Our latest and greatest adventure: home brewing. We had purchased a book a while back in hopes of actually getting started, however, we found ourselves limited by time and not wanting to get in way over our head. A visit from my friend Bruce, though, changed our mind on the whole concept. With his encouragement, he and I paid a visit to the Lebanon Health Food Store (LHFS) where he informed me of the equipment which would be necessary to get our feet wet. A day later, and we had read the first "beginner's chapter" of our brewing book and were off to LHFS to get our supplies!
While what we did is still considered brewing, it was by no means complicated. The simplest way to start is by brewing with only malt extracts. This means that all of the grains have been malted, mashed and evaporated with the hop extracts mixed in (for the case of hopped extracts). In terms of brewing, this greatly reduces the amount of time and effort necessary for a successful brew; perfect for newbies.
The very first thing is to sanitize EVERYTHING that could possibly come into contact with the beer. This is accomplished using StarSan, an acid based, food safe, rinse free solution. Mix with water and soak whatever needs to get sanitized. After a quick air dry the tools are ready to go!
Actually brewing was quite simple: we mixed the malt extracts (hopped and unhopped) in a large stock pot with 1.5 gallons of water and boiled the mixture for 45 minutes. The wort (the hot mix of grain and hops) is then added to 3 (in our case 3.5) gallons of cold tap water in a Better Bottle and left to cool down to ~75 degrees F. If you've ever taken a course on Thermodynamics or even basic chemistry you know cooling 5 gallons of a water mixture takes FOREVER.
Finally, though, the wort reached the desired temperature and we were able to measure the original gravity (a measure of the wort density to that of water) and pitch the yeast (pitch is a fancy brewing term for add).
Above we see the wort in a state where the yeast has started to work it's magic and is beginning to produce the first bit of CO2. Below, we have the wort with the yeast several hours later. The yeast has really started to pick up the pace and is creating a vast amount of CO2 as it produces the alcohol for the beer.
Oh, so you're wondering some of the specifics of the beer? Well, right now we don't have a lot of information to give, as the wort is currently fermenting. We can provide some simple details:
Name: Night Barn
Style: Nut Brown Ale
Original gravity: 1.046