Friday, March 11, 2011

Brief History of Women Brewers

A friend of mine shared this article with me today. I love it! I feel like I am a part of a very ancient and sacred tradition - and I suppose I am.

Other tablets from Mesopotamia, ranging over a period of hundreds of years, suggest that most brewers were women, and that they undertook their occupation on both domestic and ritual scales.
I also like the fact that the article points out the role of beer in ancient Greek culture. Apparently, Wine was considered the drink of men while Beer was more feminine.

What I am most excited about is the resurgence of Women in Beer today. The article points out several breweries that have women in prominent positions.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beer Brew II: ESB

After the most successful outcome of my first brewing attempt, I wanted to dive right into the second batch of beer.  This time I wanted to brew another favorite style - an ESB or Extra Special Bitter (or Extra Strong Bitter depending on who you ask).

I started by purchasing a recipe from a great website called Austin Homebrew Supply. Like the pre-made kit I bought at the local homebrew store, this included all that I would need to brew this beer. The difference was in the presentation.  Austin Homebrew puts together recipes and when you select them the website gives you options with different ways to put that particular recipe together.  It was a great option for my second brew.  (And my third since I already bought the ingredients but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Like my first brewing day, we decided it would be fun to invite a friend.  Andrew, who has brewed himself, came and spent the day with us.  We each enjoyed a Bare Kitty Brown as well as the brand new Wheaton Wheat that my Beer Yoda Bill brewed on the day we went to learn the art of home brewing.  As a side note, his beer was excellent as well. I began my second brewing with the typical process of cleaning and sanitizing and then I just followed the recipe.  This kit included a bag of grains for steeping, which the other kit did not include.  It was as easy as making tea. Once that was done per instruction, it was time to add the malt extracts and bring everything to a boil.  It boiled for 60 minutes with a bittering Nugget hops added at the beginning and then an aroma Kent Golding hops added in the last 5 minutes of the boil.  After this process was complete it was time to pour it into the carboy, take the original gravity reading and add the yeast. I don't think I still have quite the hang of the gravity readings down.  I recently broke my first hydrometer so Matt went and bought me a new one that included a tube with stand. 

Here is the beer boiling process.  

Here are Andrew and Matt helping pour the wort into the carboy.

Even Piglet joined in on the fun.

Here is Matt considering the Hydrometer reading.  It was 1.041 this time, which was lower than the recipe called for.  We figure that has to do with the amount of water we may have added.  I'm not terribly worried about it.  We still have no idea what the alcohol content is of the Brown and it hasn't affected the taste at all.  I suppose this is a skill I will need to perfect over time, but for now I'll just keep brewing. 

And the tasting of the wort, with the kitty timer looking on with judgment. It tasted like bread, which is precisely what it should taste like. 

Now the airlock on the carboy is bloop blooping away happily.  The house smells pleasantly like hops and in about two to four weeks we can bottle this batch and see what we have.  

Matt asked me yesterday if there was anything I found specifically difficult in the brewing process.  I don't, actually. I have always been good at following recipe directions. The cleaning process isn't too bad either, even though it isn't my favorite part.  

I have another kit from Austin Homebrew Supply in my pantry ready to be brewed. It is another brown - a recipe from their selections with a slight modification (extra dark malt to add to the recipe).  It will be my second brown and I am interested in understanding the differences. Once I get that one under my belt I want to get a couple books to help me design my own recipes. I just want to understand the basics that go into beer styles and from there I can make my own modifications.  I am excited about that.