So, How’d your first homebrew go?

18 Jan

As I have mentioned in the past, I decided to expand my knowledge and appreciation of beer by making my own. Out of my first experience the biggest lesson I learned was that doing as much reading and research will only get you so far, actually getting in there with your hands is where you learn the most. I went in to making my first batch thinking, “I’ve got it handled, it will be perfect, I read How to Brew!” Well, that’s not exactly how it went. I made a few mistakes along the way, but we’re calling them learning experiences.

The whole event started at American Home Brewing Supply in Kearny Mesa. It happens to be RIGHT by my office so I tootled on over there on my lunch break one sunny Thursday afternoon, list in hand. I emerged 30 minutes later, after some helpful instruction from the owner, with a bag full of grain, yeast, hops, and hope.

That evening I laid out all of my purchases, put on my Bowie playlist, and got busay.

Totally legal substances

This is the recipe I went with (thank you, American Home Brewing Supply!):

8 lbs. Pale Malt Extract
1/2 lb. Crystal 90L
1/4 lb. Crystal 120L
1/2 lb. Victory grain
1/2 lb. Chocolate grain
2 ozs. Black Patent
1 oz. Northern Brewer Hops (boil)
1 oz. Cluster Hops (mid boil)
1 oz. Cascade Hops (late boil)
1 oz. Fuggle Hops (finish)
Burton Ale yeast


So I made a nice little wort tea with my grains, and stirred in the sticky ass malt extract. I got some on my hand and was like Clark Griswold when he was covered in sap.

The Wort bubbling away

 After a good scrubbing, my wort got a nice ice down in my bathtub while I cleaned and sanitized the equipment I would need next. I think I might have gone a little overboard on sanitizing, everything went in there. But better safe than contaminated, right? Here’s where one of my rookie mistakes made an appearance, in my excitement to transfer my wort to the carboy I forgot to take my Original Gravity reading. Oops. Also, I didn’t pour it through a strainer, so there will be a few errant hop leaves hanging out in my beer. I’ll just tell everyone it’s a new high fiber beer. Healthy! But, those few little snafus aside, I think things went really well. Then I woke up on Saturday morning. Foam was everywhere! I guess there was some very vigorous fermentation going on Friday night. But, being the MacGyver-like chick I am, I fashioned a quick blowoff hose with siphon tubing and an older airlock; and took care of that business.

Aren't we cute?

Two hours later, I was on a plane to Fargo for Christmas. When I dragged my huge suitcase upstairs 10 days later, I was pleased to see my beer right where I had left it, slowly bubbling away into the big bowl of sanitized water. I switched out the blowoff hose with a new airlock, and a few days later my lovely assistant, Darcy, came over and helped me bottle. Bottling went pretty smoothly once I showed the siphon that it was not in fact smarter than me. With Darcy’s amazing help, we got a little assembly line going and next thing you know, I’ve got a bunch of beer hand made by me. Hurrah!

Ta DAAA! Beer by me!

The best part is coming up, I’m having a party on Friday to celebrate my latest project, and actually taste it. I hope that my guests will enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ll let you know what they say.

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