Monday, March 1, 2010


For Christmas the kids pooled their money together and bought Mike a beer-making kit he had on his list.  Our kids bought their dad a kit on how to make alcohol with my blessing.  There is no end to the cost of future therapy bills.

And if that's not enough, after having already read about our eggnog, then after reading this, someone's going to think we need AA.

Sunday Mike finally got some time to make his brew.  This process takes a few hours so you would need to make sure enough time is allotted.  I'm not a beer fan in the least, though Mike still tries to get me to taste new ones he think I might like.  So, I was just the photo-journalist here.

And when Mike found out I was taking pictures to be posted on the blog he said two things:

1.  "You are a dork."
2.  "I don't want to hear from Tracy [my sister, who happens to be a microbiologist] about any unsanitary issues/fines she might see."

So, zip it, Tracy. 

Here we go.  First you need some basic supplies.  I bought these at Midwest Homebrewing Supplies.  It's also where we've purchased all his kits.  They are extremely nice and helpful to people like me: those who know NOTHING about beer.

A couple buckets (though Sunday he only used one).

A big giant pot.  This is the largest pot we have in the house and it only gets used to make beer.  That's so sad.

A kit of some kind.  Mike's wish list was for this:

But when I looked closer I saw this - and began to think there was hope for this beer yet!

The kit contains everything you need, except the yeast.  Don't forget to pick up yeast.  I would have forgotten except the nice guy helping us out told us the kit didn't include it and found what we needed.

A friend of Mike's taught him how to make beer a couple years ago.  Apparently one of the rules was, "You have to drink beer when making beer."  I was exempt from that rule because I was just the photographer.

First you take your grains and put them in a giant tea-bag.

Then you "gently crack" them open.  He didn't roll them out, just used the rolling pin to squish them some.

You take them to the big pot that is filled with some water and steep the grains for about 30 minutes.  There's a lot of waiting time when you make beer.  But, just like tea the water gets darker and darker.

When 30 minutes are up, you drain the bag and toss the contents.  All while the dog looks on and whines because she thinks she's missing out on some fantastic tasting stuff.

Maddie came in to inspect things at this point and asked if she was going to get to try it.  Don't worry, we said no.  The cigarettes were enough of a moral issue for one week.

Next you remove the pot from the burner and add the motor oil malt.

I mean seriously - look at this stuff.  It totally looks like used motor oil.

But you put the pot back on the burner and bring it to a boil again.  Apparently we weren't done, like I thought so I didn't get a picture of him adding the Hops.  That stuff smells bad.  Really.  They are little green pellets that look like rabbit droppings.  I mean, could I make this stuff sound any more appealing?  "Motor Oil and smelly green rabbit droppings".  I certainly know how to sell a hobby, don't I?

I don't know how long he steeped these Hops, but the last 30 minutes of it he added this:

I think Mike hid the kit box when Jake found out there was a giant bottle of honey in it.  Jake's former life was a bee; this kid loves honey.

During the last two minutes of this boiling time you add the Aroma Hops.  They smell bad too.

Now he began the cooling process and these ominous looking instruments came into play:

Mike admitted that there is probably a better cooling process, but this is what he's come up with that didn't require extra equipment.

First put the big pot in the sink that has been filled with cold water.

In the Ale Pail dump 10 pounds of ice.  I asked about it melting, but he said the whole mixture gets topped off with water anyway so it's fine.

Pour in the mixture from the big giant pot.

Stir that up.  The ice melts within a minute.  Keep an eye on the temperature and add water to fill the bucket.

Next get out the yeast.  Mike was nicely surprised when he opened it and said, "Wow!  You bought me the good stuff!"  I said, "Only the best for you," and wondered what the heck he was talking about.

Pour that in and stir it up really well.

Then you pull out the giant test tube and fill it with some of this wort (unfermented beer).

Then you measure the wort and record it for the alcohol potential.

I thought he was recording the alcohol level.  Then I was informed there was no alcohol yet because it hadn't had time to ferment - thus why it's call wort and not beer.  Huh.

I don't know why we have to record the potential alcohol level.  Is there a point where you say, "Drat!  Too much alcohol is possible!  Toss it!"   ???

At this point Mike tested it and offered me some saying, "It has a little bit of a sweet taste.  I mean it doesn't taste good...but it's got a little sweet taste." 

I tasted it and started gagging and yelling, "Blech!  That's awful!  It tastes like an old shoe!"  To which he replied, "Versus a new shoe?  You've eaten a lot of old shoes?"  And I told him I have a good imagination and it's exactly how I would expect an old shoe to taste.

Now you top off this awful smelling/tasting wort (a now highly appropriate name, in my opinion) with the lid and fill this little cup/cap with water.  This cap allows carbon dioxide to escape thus preventing the lid from blowing off.  The water seals off the cap so no air can get in.  Here I have to agree with my sister, science can sometimes be kinda cool.

Now this will sit for a week.  Next Sunday it gets transferred to a plastic carboy. 

And that's where I'll leave you hangin'...

1 comment:

The Pats said...

When is the bar open? We'll be back in Minnesota by April 1.