Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brew Mistress

While the fiber arts are my main passions, I am also an aspiring DIY-er in many other fields, as well.  Artisan breads and cheeses, homemade wine... I have a lot of plans, but most of them take a lot of space and/or equipment.  Living in an apartment means my space is limited, and buying so much beautiful yarn has certainly limited my funds.

Some time ago I found a beermaking kit online that interested me because it was both simple and economical.  Rather than expensive and spacious carboys and buckets and grainmills, this system uses a relatively small 2-gallon PET keg to ferment the beer, and that's about pretty much all the equipment I need.  The smaller volume is perfect for me, too, since smaller batches mean more chances to play around and create something new.

The starter kit I got (on - yay free shipping!) came with two types of ready-made beer mixes, a pale ale and a golden lager - light beers are not my personal preference, but what the heck, they're nice for summer.  I made the first batch (a simple American Blonde Ale) precisely according to the instructions, since that gave me a chance to get used to the process.  It took me maybe a half hour to have it ready to go, and then I had to wait patiently for a couple of weeks to allow it to ferment, before I got to bottle it.  After bottling, I gave it a week to carbonate, then another week and a half to condition (which allows the yeast to do some more work and improve the flavour.)  On Monday, I finally cracked the first bottle and gave it a taste.

As I expected, it's a very basic blonde ale, nothing fancy.  Being an unfiltered homebrew, it is cloudier than most macrobrews, both from the proteins and the yeast suspended in it.  If my response to the first pint is any indication, it seems a lot stronger than the 3.7% than it's purported to be, although I couldn't calculate the actual percentage of alcohol until I get a hydrometer (why do hobbies always require more equipment?)  Today I put a wedge of lemon in there and it brightened it up quite a bit.

I have big plans for my next keg - something a bit darker, a bit stronger, a bit hoppier...  I'll let you know, by the end of summer, when it's ready.

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