Getting Started Homebrewing Beer
I had been curious about homebrewing beer for a while. I had put off trying it because I was concerned about the prices for all the gear. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of stuff and find out that I couldn’t do it.
This January, while watching the NFC Championship with my friend Peter, he gave me one of his homebrewed beers. It was fantastic. I didn’t know that he homebrewed. He told me he had just started doing it. He told me he bought a Mr. Beer Kit at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $35.
I went there the next day and got one on clearance for $14!
I had read about how to brew on a variety of web sites. It was hard to keep all the details straight without actually having done it. The Mr. Beer kit came with an instruction book. I read it cover to cover.
The next day I followed the instructions and made my first batch. I sanitized everything, I boiled the water, the extracts and hops following the instructions. My wife and kids weren’t thrilled about the smell of hops in the kitchen, but they survived and humored me.
I put my concoction in the Mr. Beer fermenter. I accidentally almost melted it. I forgot to put some cool water in before pouring in my near boiling wort. Fortunately, I caught it in time and saved it by quickly putting in the cool water.
I put in my yeast and put it away in a cabinet above the refrigerator to let it ferment in the dark.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would work. It all seemed so complicated from what I had read. I probably thought there was a 25% chance I’d get it right.
The next day when I stood on a chair and peeked at the fermenter, I could see all kinds of crazy bubbling. It was working! The magic of yeast still amazes me.
After about a week the beer was ready to bottle. I hadn’t bought the kit with the plastic bottles and I didn’t have a capping tool or empty bottles to use. During the week I had looked around trying to figure out what I could use cheaply.
It turned out we had a 3L table wine bottle with a screw on cap in the recycling and another one almost empty in the kitchen. The Mr. Beer fermentor only holds 8L so this worked well. I sterilized and filled the two 3L wine bottles with beer, priming sugar and yeast. I bottled the remaining 2L in screw cap beer bottles and capped using the plastic screw caps in the kit.
After about another week, it was time to see if I had made beer or pond water. I opened one of the wine jugs, a perfect blast of carbonation escaped and the beer started to foam. I poured myself a big mug and took a sip. It was actually pretty good!
This batch had a orange, cidery taste that I came to realize was caused by the warm temperature where I fermented the beer. I fermented it above my refrigerator where it was probably 85 degrees Fahrenheit. I should have kept it someplace cooler.
I liked it anyway. I was amazed I had created BEER. It just seemed like magic.
I also discovered the bottled beer with the screwcaps weren’t tight enough, so the beer was flat. I also discovered that the beer in the wine bottles lost their carbonation a few hours after opening. I had some flat beer over the next week or so and thought about how I’d make the next batch better.
I was amazed that I had made beer.