Today was a glorious day. It was a day filled with brewing my own damn beer, hovering over a brew pot in the kitchen and drinking and reviewing our 200th beer. As for the homebrew, I had purchased the requisite ingredients a week ago from NorthernBrewers.com and today was the day to make beer and have some fun. I find it ironic that on the day of the 200th brew review, I was in the kitchen brewing beer.
But first, some news about the site.
Readership has jumped significantly and I don’t know why. I’m not complaining, but it is puzzling to say the least. It appears that right around Sept. 15th, visits went way the hell up. Many of the visitations were for the Davalos twins, as I pointed out last week, but since then it’s been almost a steady stream of new readers. I thought it was a fluke at first, but it’s still going. A lot of visitors are checking out previously posted Humpday Honeys. Either some site has linked here generating the influx or else our Facebook presence is having some influence. Personally, I’m not complaining. I’m really quite happy about the whole thing.
Incidentally, the daily updates to our Facebook page is mainly maintained by by son, who updates it with teaser phrases that even gets me interested when I read them. September 25th was his birthday. He’s not at home right now to celebrate; he’s in Indianapolis with his brothers to view first-hand, a live UFC fight. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday, Fleetflatfoot.
And now for something completely pertinent: Homebrew.
I wanted to close the book on my old recipe of Sweet Georgia Brown English Ale which I made an eternity ago. My original intention was to create a brown ale that was a little sweet. On the first attempt at the recipe, I added a half-jar of honey right at flame-out at the end of the boil. When it was time to finally drink the concoction, there was no honey to be tasted and little bit of bitterness at the end. Not a bad brew by any means, but one that could certainly be improved upon.
I had obtained the recipe from Charlie Papazian’s book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and this time, I wanted to wing it. The first batch of SGB turned out great by others’ critiques, but for me, I needed a little more.
Today, I used most of the same old ingredients, but with a little more creative license, so to speak. Instead of adding honey, I brewed with honey malt. And, I added a pound of Turbinado sugar during the last ten minutes of the boil instead of honey. I also switched the Fuggles and Willamette hops as the boil versus the flavoring hops.
This was the first time that I wanted to make a yeast starter as well. After getting tips from the guys at the MASH homebrew club and some research online, I had it in my mind exactly what needed to be done.
With the arrival of the ingredients from NorthernBrewers on Thursday, the Wyeast smack-pack was still cold because of the refrigerator packet that they ship with yeasts. Into the fridge it went. The time schedule would be: while I was at work on Friday night, my wife would bring it out into room temp at 6 pm and, after it warmed up, smack the pack and break up the nutrient packet that was embedded inside. By the time I got home at 11:30, the pack should be swelled and ready to go. Then I would boil up a little dried malt extract and water and then add the yeast. I had an old beer growler ready for the contents.
I called her from work at a little after nine.
“How’d the smack-pack go?”
“I had trouble finding the little packet inside. But I found it after a while and smacked it. I checked again and it was still there. I smacked and smacked until I finally laid it flat on the counter and beat the shit out of it. I left it for you.”
When I got home from work it was about 11:35 and my wife was asleep. In the kitchen, I grabbed a beer and poured it and as I was taking my first few sips, I noticed that the smack-pack was as flaccid as I was at that very moment. Undaunted, I proceeded to boil up some dry malt extract and water. When it finally cooled down, I cut open the yeast pack and added the contents to the miniwort.
I felt the empty yeast pack. Hmm. I cut the entire top and found a completely intact nutrient pack. How did this internal container survive a beating the likes of which our kids would remember for a lifetime? (Rhet…) I cut open the nutrient pack and added it to the overall concoction. Aluminum foil over the top, a vigorous swirl, and off to bed.
Saturday morning revealed that the yeast was doing its job. More swirls and shakes during the day. A nice thick foam had filled the top of the liquid and after 14 hours or so, we were ready to go. It smelled great. Ready or not, it was time.
While the yeast ate away at the malts in the growler, I was at the stove, steeping grains and prepping other ingredients in a big pot. Water and grains were boiling on the stove. The liquid looked like a dark concentrate of some alien dark beer. The house smelled of wort. Glorious! The event was rather boring for my wife but an adventure for me, as I stood there, checking the timer, monitoring the temp and smelling the smells.
By 7:45, Saturday night, it was a wrap. Wife added the yeast (that she beat the shit out of) to the fermenter. The lid was sealed, the airlock was in place. And now we wait. And clean up. What a pain.
I have three weeks to decide whether to buy the CO2 tank and plumbing hoses and keg this beer or to go through the hassle of an hours-long process of prepping and sanitizing and bottling and waiting another three weeks. We’ll see. I know how I’m leaning. A modification to the beer fridge may be in order
It would be nice to take another motorcycle ride before the snow flies. I have a new Scorpion helmet, an old-school, heavy leather jacket and a gut burn to get out one more time. I might just go out, all by myself, fill up the tank and ride it til it’s damn near empty before I have to add the StaBil and dream about about riding again, while the winter climate flexes its muscles in the faces and on the lives of the humans who populate this third planet.
Don’t forget that we have free SPT stickers Just send an email requesting one, and I’ll send a sticker, postage paid by me. Thanks.
And thanks a lot for stopping by.