Brew time again!
I started this blog back when I was actually still brewing beer. That’s why the title of my site. I was trying to include my passion for brewing, as well as any of my other “crafty” things I like to do. As I’ve stated in the past though, there are so many good breweries around now, and so much to try, that I just stopped brewing. Well, that, and I really dislike racking my beer from my primary fermentation vessel to another for bottling. You have to be so careful not to let too much air get to the brew, and everything has to be carefully washed and constantly sanitized.
A couple of weeks ago my youngest daughter decided that she wanted to try brewing. She is a very good cook, and is really good with numbers and figuring things out. She’s looking for other hobbies to do that she would enjoy. She has a great taste for the specialty beers, so she wanted to give brewing a try. This was great news for my husband! For me, eh. I love doing things with my girls, and granddaughters, but I was not looking forward to the bottling process. That said, we both told her we would love to help out.
Out came all of our equipment from the garage. We had to see what we still have, what’s trashed and needs to be replaced, and what new things they have out there to make life easier. I found what I consider the most important part, my brewing journal! I looked back through all of my notes, and found that we actually started brewing in July of 2008. Almost 10 years ago! But our last brew was in 2012 (which I didn’t bottle, so we ended up tossing it), and our last bottled brew was in 2011. So it’s been a while. But it all comes back with just a little bit of reading and going through our items.
For this brew my daughter bought a simple Hefeweizen kit. She didn’t want to deal with too many hops, or the different grains for this first batch. She had the kit shipped directly to us, and we had to open the box to put the yeast right in the fridge. My husband took out the catalog and started pointing out all of the new all-grain systems they now have, and some new fermentation systems. That last one interested me a bit. We thought about it, my husband talked about it a lot, and then we decided to visit the closest brewery supply store.
They were sold out of a lot, but they did have one last model of a FastFermenter. The FastFermenter is conical shaped and has a collection bulb at the bottom. When the first fermentation is complete, you close the valve, take off the bulb, empty it (or save the yeast to use again), then – and this is the good part – you put your bottling sugar in the same vessel and bottle from that!!! OMG, no more racking from a glass carboy high on a counter to a sanitized bucket on a towels and sanitized ground. That sold me right there. My husband had been looking into this earlier (of course), so he agreed and we bought their last one. We cleaned it up, had to redo some of the fittings with more tape, but we got it set up. And a few days later my daughter came over and we brewed her first batch of beer!
We’re still doing extract brewing at this point, but that may change in the near future. But for now, we transferred the wort to the FastFermenter, pitched our yeast, and now the beer is sitting in our makeshift cooler. Our cooler fits a regular 5 gallon carboy, but as you can see from the picture below, this is a bit taller. For our next batch I’ll probably buy the insulated jacket that goes around this vessel. That will also allow us to put it up on the wall (which my husband already installed the wall mount for it).
I’m hopeful this beer turns out good, but I’m not going to be too hard on myself (or my daughter and husband) if it’s not quite what we want since it’s been so long, and we’re using new equipment. But I’ll post our progress here, good or bad! And hopefully I’ll have a lot more brews in the future. If I do my own recipe, I’ll share that as well. Since this one was a kit, and really basic, I won’t post the particulars of this one.
Happy brewing everyone!