One-Month Challenge

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Four months ago...

> Brew a batch of "Peck-brand" beer, or, alternatively, ferment a few bottles of "Vin de Jon". [Katherine Boyd]

And it was a lot of fun. Enough to keep me going all summer :-) I'm not kidding...I still have a gallon left...although it would be too easy to blame my absence purely on that. In reality, most of my summer was consumed by real estate: the learning about, buying, and renovation thereof. More on that in a later post.

In the meantime, Happy Birthday to Me! -- and onward with the beer challenge:

Although some may claim is is possible to brew beer in a Coffee Pot, the better brews should be done in at least a 5-gallon batch. There is a pretty good guide here, so I'll just give you the fun tidbits.

The process starts with a giant brew pot, into which we throw malt -- both dry and extracts -- and boil for a mad long amount of time (meanwhile, we sterilize all our equipment, so as to guarantee that we'll be brewing beer, not penicillin). Next, we add hops...and as the solution cools down, yeast and sugar. It all ends up in the pail, on the floor, and on you, causing second-degree burns wherever it lands.

Next, we seal the pail and toss an airlock on it to keep the nasty microbes out, while still allowing the batch to vent, so it doesn't explode all over the basement. We let it sit for a couple days, measuring its specific gravity (basically, how watery it is) on occasion. When the specific gravity stabilizes, it has used up the available sugar. It is now alcoholic, but not pressurized, and therefore not fizzy. Flat beer is yuck, so we have one more step.

We siphon the beer into (sterilized) bottles, absorbing as much as possible into the clothing we are wearing, since now there is no risk of burns as it spills. A little ends up in the bottles, into which we add sugar before capping. We let it sit for a couple weeks, timidly awaiting the day when one blows up, taking the rest of the bottles with it.

Two weeks, two days, and two tubes of neosporin later: we have beer. Nice! I brewed up a chocolaty porter, with decent results. A couple were nearly flat...probably a leak in the cap...but most were just delicious. I have more than I can handle, so stop by for a jug sometime!

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