Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not my usual, but nice

Beer brewing is an interesting hobby.  There is a lot of chemistry as well as some baking and cooking skill, which I suppose is also chemistry.  Back on March 5th I brewed what the recipe told me was an ESB.  Now, certainly I am not faulting Austin Home Brew.  In the hands of a more skilled brewer, this may be the best ESB ever.  In my hands, it is not at all unpleasant but I wouldn't characterize it as
an ESB at all.

Yesterday, Matt and I cracked open the first two bottles. Uncapping made the perfect "Pfft" noise that is musical to a brewer's ears.  At least with that noise, you know you probably don't have a dud. We poured it into glasses.  The color was a lovely orange gold.  It it pretty clear, but might clear more over time. It smelled like beer, but not like I expected though I couldn't place  the aroma.  So, finally, we tried that first taste.  It tasted Belgian.  Not like a really amazing brewed-by-monks Belgian beer, but like a pretty good attempt by an American brewery at a Belgian style beer. It wasn't the least bit unpleasant, but not at all what I was expecting.  As I continued to sip at the beer, some of the more ESB qualities began to shine through.  Perhaps the flavor profile will change over the next few days or weeks as well as it continues to condition in the bottles. I have also not yet cracked open the Party Pig so that might be a different experience than the bottles as well.

I am not unhappy about this beer, but I do wonder what I did in the process to cause this to happen.  We have a modified brown beer in the carboy as we speak so I'll be curious how that one turns out as well. That is kind of the fun part about beer.  After you do all the work, you have to wait a while to see what really happens. 

I also got a couple of books for my birthday.  Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels and Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher.  I have already started devouring the Ray Daniels' book and I have already learned a few things that will help with our next batch - specifically about calculating the original gravity. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Girls a-Brewin'!

Matt has been out of town.  Actually, out of the country.  He is in Toronto with his brother this weekend.  But I wanted to brew the next batch of beer, so I set out to do just that.  I invited our friends Andy and Emily over for some assistance and company.  The process went smoothly and the beer is fermenting away as we speak so I would consider it a success so far. 

Since Emily was helping me out with the brewing this week I got to pondering the role of women in home brewing.  I'm familiar with the history of brewing and that it had long been a woman's role in the household, but then the 20th century came and it became the domain of the college-age man.  There is a female presence in the professional brewing industry, but still don't hear a lot about women home brewers.  When googling the subject, you find some articles as old as 1994 and messages in forums wondering if there are any women out there, but receiving only a few responses.  It seems that beer hadn't been an interest for women until the craft beer boom in recent years, so it seems to me that brewing would be a hobby more women would want to get involved in. 

So, this weekend, with Emily helping me with my third batch of beer ever (and second brown) I wanted to celebrate Girl Power in brewing.  I really enjoy this process and I am getting more comfortable with my skills. I'm ready to move on to designing my own recipes. Maybe I can lead the way to a girls home brewing movement.  Who's with me? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beerthday Weekend

This past weekend, Matt and I had a Beerthday party.  Since our Birthdays are only a couple of days apart, it is easy to combine the celebration. We sent out the invites to a few friends to attend our Beerthday party at local brewery 5 Seasons. We had a great time and even got some beer related gifts (which weren't required, but our friends are awesome that way).  I enjoyed three of their beers. First, I had the Brave Sir Robin Brown, a slightly hopped roasty brown beer.  The I had their Red, which I don't see on their website but I found it very crisp and tasty.  Lastly, I tried their Stout, which also is missing from the website. I think everyone had a great time, which you can see in the photo because both Emily and Bill think it "rocks!"  Afterward we came back to our apartment and hung out, drank more beer and listened to Matt play guitar. 

On Sunday, we bottled our second batch of beer ever.  This one was the ESB we brewed a month ago.  The process went smoothly.  We even used my birthday present from Matt this year, the Party Pig.  He bought it on the recommendation from some friends who also home brew and the first use so far seems pretty cool.  It is kegging without all the hassle of kegging.  We also used the bottles that And and Emily gave us at our Beerthday Party.  The beer is conditioning in the closet as we speak and we should be able to enjoy it in about three weeks. 

The taste test of the beer was seemingly successful.  I liked the golden color of the ESB, the hops seems to be well balanced.  Even without being carbonated, I thought it was pretty good.

I have also been pleased with the clarity of our beers so far without going through a secondary fermentation process (also known as a clarification). It might just be beginners luck or the fact that we like to use a filter when pouring the beer in the carboy and again when we put it in the bottling bucket.

I have another brown recipe ready to go.  This time, I bought a "kit" from Austin Homebrew but added some additional malts to modify it a little.  I expect to be brewing that in a few weeks and we'll see how it goes.  Expect more updates from Beer and Now soon.