Welcome... to the first chapter in the great adventure of Homebrewing. In looking into the whole homebrewing thing over the past few weeks/months, I've found that a LOT of people have bought the kits... The Wingman, Dizzy's Aunts, former roommates, their friends, coworkers, etc. but out of the, let's say, a dozen people... only one or two have actually taken out the kit & tried to use it once... and maybe a quarter of those have used it more than three times... and apparently it seems that just about anybody who makes it to a dozen batches either works for a homebrewing kit company or has a microbrew in the hipster part of a town near you. Well... ladies & gentlemen... Dizzy & I have officially started... and here are the results from Day One!!!
First off though, I'd like to give you a brief history of Beer. No... not the whole "How Beer Saved The World" thing from the History Channel where cavemen accidentally discovered it by leaving their food in the rain, then it led to math, writing, civilization, poetry, pyramids, medicine, time travel & teleportation or whatever... but basically... a History of Beer in the World of $teve...
My first experience with beer was at the age of three (hold off on those calls to Child Protective Services just yet, besides, I'm sure there's a statute of limitations). The weird thing is that I remember this honestly... but when I was a wee lad of three, I was watching TV with my dad, sitting on his lap or by his side... and I noticed this shiny can that he was drinking from... so I sounded it out. "C-oo-rs... Coors!" "Yup, good job..." and he took a sip with foam glistening off his moustache. "I wanna try."
Now, this is the scene on the "Brady Bunch" or a PSA where a father would've sat me on his knee & told me the dangers of alcohol on my mind, body & soul (for religious types) but... my dad was pretty smart... and he knew that I was pretty smart, even at three... and I would've turned his argument against him as I had seen done in the past (it was his own damn fault being around during the day to raise his child to teach him valuable traits like that). So what did he do? He gave me a little bit of a look, checked the kitchen to make sure that my mom wasn't nearby while she was running some water, "Sure, have a sip." WHAT? REALLY? AWESOME!!! Shiny can of daddy's juice... so I took a sip, let it settle on my tongue for a moment... and then did a total spit take-half purge of that golden ale from Golden, Colorado all over my father's face & t-shirt. Had he been wearing his Aviator sunglasses, it probably wouldn't have been that bad. "UGH!!! YUCKY!!!" What was the result? I honestly didn't touch a beer for the next 15 years. No need to thank me on the parenting tip... just pay it forward.
My next experience with beer came when I was 18 years old (again, I think there's a statute of limitations where if you didn't catch me back when I was doing it, you can't do it now). All through high school, I didn't touch the stuff... or any booze for that matter. Oddly enough, I was also an honor student, amazing athlete & a virgin working for minimum wage just to get enough gas money to drive to school. Now though, I was going to college... and I had to build up a bit of immunity to alcohol so that I could get chicks drunk & trick them into having sex with me. Let's face it, the sweet, talented, intelligent, ginormous guy with an above average crank angle wasn't working... and my balls were cobalt by this time.
My friends drank profusely... they had older brothers who provided... and let's face it, getting booze as a teenager is pretty easy, especially in cow country Utah. Nowadays it may be dominated by meth... but back then it was a different kind of hell... Natural Light, Old Milwaukee, Keystone, MGD and if you wanted to splurge that extra buck, Pabst Blue Ribbon. I couldn't stand that sh*t when I finally gave into peer pressure... and then one day, a few months later, I essentially drank a bottle of tequila, a half bottle of Apple Pucker and chased it with a pack of Budweiser... and apparently this all happened in a little over an hour's time. This is what my friends tell me as... I was obviously an inexperienced drinker... and apparently they were horrible friends when it came to things like "You probably shouldn't drink shot of tequila out of a highball glass" and little tips like that. I damn near died of alcohol poisoning, it was labor day weekend, four days of trying to not die... and then I tried out for walk-ons at the University of Utah. "Whew... who smells like f**king tequila?" That was me... best part was... I was on the practice squad. Imagine if I had actually eaten a meal the four days leading up to it. Anyway, Jose Cuervo was not my friend after that day... nor anything that reminded me of him.
Basically after that, I took a break from drinking... and then there was a slow progression back into the good graces with alcohol. I traveled the world, many trips to Vegas, learned more about the process, found out about things beyond the world of Utah where drinking is a sin, even if it's only watered-down carbonated piss that they allowed into the state before the 2002 Winter Olympics. Then for the past few years, after living in places like Denver (microbrews EVERYWHERE), Truckee (only thing to do is drink... and Fifty Fifty Brewery was a stone's throw away) and here in San Francisco (international city & Wine Country adjacent) I've learned quite a bit... and it's intrigued me to no end. So now... I thought I'd try taking some of the things into my own hands... and see what I can do with it. So there you go... the backstory... the epilogue if you will... and now...
Chapter One - Irish Red Ale (September 7th, 2013)
I purchase a deluxe starter kit from Northern Brewing & a few books about Homebrewing (basically the first three that pop up on Amazon) a week or so back... and they arrived. With the kit came a starter brew pack of Irish Red Ale... and as a promotion, we also got a free batch of Pumpkin Ale that will be discussed in Chapter Two I'm sure. After making sure that we had all of the parts (no funnel in this pack but they've been notified & we're resourceful) and watched the instructional DVD... and I'm about five chapters into one of the books already... we started by cooking up the wort...
In about two weeks, we'll have another update on this adventure... but for now, SCIENCE!!! The yeast is transforming the sugars to produce alcohol and all the other things are being transfigured so that their flavors come out. That's obviously a REALLY simple explanation... but the results are what count.
The fermentation process will take about two weeks... then for this batch, we do a second fermentation for another two weeks or so... and then we can bottle the brew... and it'll be another two weeks while it finalized. That's right, six weeks for a batch of roughly five gallons... or about four dozen 12-ounce bottles worth of Irish Red Ale. Perhaps that's why most people think it's a good idea & don't even really start with homebrewing? Don't worry though, once one stage of the process is down, we'll have the next batch taking it's place... so eventually it'll really be more like 2-3 weeks between batches... so not only will I be thoroughly satiated with booze that I could drink... but friends & family, and even spectators of football at my home... and perhaps an eventual Bacon Day.
Details will be forthcoming once the roommate situation is stabilized & I make sure that I'm not poisoning anybody (especially myself) with skunky beer... but yeah, look forward to it. Oh... and by the way, FOOTBALL!!! See you next time here on Homebrewing Empire!!!