Saturday, August 7, 2004

The first batch

Batch #1, August 7, 2004, a Pilsner-like beer

Malt extract:
6 2/3 pounds Briess Pilsner light

1 oz Spalt, fresh
1 oz Saaz, pellets

Wyeast 1007, German Ale yeast

Cooking instructions:
The minute timer starts when the water comes to a boil.
* Bring water to boil
* 0:00 Add malt extract
* 0:10 Add Spalt hops
* 0:50 Add Saaz hops and 1 tsp Irish moss
* 1:00 Remove from heat

I had some trouble with the malt extract, it stuck on the bottom as the pan was apparently too hot. I'm using one of those big canning pots, the blue enamel ones with the white speckles. Next time I'll turn off the heat before adding the malt and see if that helps.

Bottled on August 21, 2004, with 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming.

This was an excellent first batch, a very good beer, but nothing like the German pilsner I was hoping for. I had some trouble keeping the temperature down during fermentation, so I set the whole thing in the bath tub and filled the tub with cold water. Our tap water comes from a well and is 59 degrees F, which did a good job of keeping the fermenting beer at about 65 degrees F.

Linda says I should name this "Packer Backer" beer, since it will be ready right at the start of football season. In fact, we went to Phoenix and watch the Packers play (and lose to) the Cardinals while this batch was fermenting.

Sunday, August 1, 2004


I picked up homebrewing again as a hobby in the summer of 2004. It's a lot of fun, the beer is really good, and the cost savings are significant. I don't know why I didn't start this a long time ago -- well, I do...

My first homebrew attempt was a fiasco. Linda bought me a kit for Christmas, must have been in 1981. It came with most of the equipment, bottle capper, airlock, etc, and the ingredients. I had to supply the fermenter (a 5 gallon plastic bucket) and the bottles. I picked up some long neck Budweiser bottles from a local distributor, and got a plastic bucket from McDonalds. Apparently, having a food-grade bucket is essential so as to not get unwanted chemicals in the beer, and McDonalds was throwing them out, so I got one for free. I followed the instructions carefully, waited and waited, bottled the beer, waited some more, then was finally ready to sample one. It was a gorgeous looking beer, nice head, deep golden amber color. But nasty! It tasted like dill pickles, which is what was originally in the bucket that I got from McDonalds.

Twenty-three years later (and 10 moves, including across the country and to Europe), I found some of the equipment from that kit in the attic -- a big strainer, the airlock, a hydrometer, a bottle capper, and some instructions -- and thought I'd give it another try. I got a brand new bucket this time, and bought the ingredients at a local homebrew shop (Larry's in Kent, WA, excellent store, with very helpful people.) Plus there is a ton of information on the internet about how to brew and what you need.

A batch makes 5 gallons, or just over 2 cases (about 52 or 53 12oz bottles), and generally costs $20 - $24, depending on the recipe. That's roughly 50 cents per bottle, or about $3 per six-pack, or less than half the price of a decent beer at the supermarket. And it's really good beer, better than most of what I used to buy at the store.

This blog is intended to track my brewing adventures, recipes, and mis-steps. I had another website with the first 35 or so recipes, so I'll be copying those here, and entering more stuff.