Brewing Over an Open Fire

Brewing Update:

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle's bonfire.

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle’s bonfire.

As promised in my What Home Brewing Is Not post I will tell the story of when we had to brew over an open fire.

It was our first brew that we had ever attempted. The day was July 4th 2014 and we decided to brew for America. A week earlier we went to the local brewing supply store and bought: a 6-gallon brewing pot, a 6-gallon food grade fermenting bucket, the CO2 bleeder, no rinse sanitizer, a large spoon, thermometer, and the kit of ingredients needed to make the batch.

12, noon hit, we cracked open beers, cheered for God’s America, and got ready to brew. The water began to boil with the bag of grains and we took it off the heat to steep for thirty minutes. After the steep we brought it up to nearly a boil and then the power went out in the house. We had an electric stove. It was a perfect day outside of Cincinnati on the 4th. The sun was shining, there was a little breeze, birds were chirping, everything was perfect outside; but sure enough the power was out inside the house.

We were scrambling around the kitchen trying to figure out what to do. We were committed. It was time for the one-hour boil or we would have to throw out the whole batch and start over. This was our first one, our first attempt, our first shot. We had talked about brewing for years and we were not going to give up now as our forefathers did not give up on that heroic day.

He looked at me and said, “Smoker.” A few weeks earlier my father built a hog smoker made of concrete blocks and metal roofing for my sister’s high school graduation party. The fire was lit in a matter of minutes and the brewing pot was on the spit outside.

The batch started to boil again and we breathed an uneasy sigh of relief. The hour went by and we cooled it to 68 degrees, placed the beer into the fermenting keg, poured the yeast, and waited.

Four weeks later it tasted great. It was a brown ale style, which I am not keen on, but for what it was I enjoyed it. I found that it had a burnt, smoky taste and it was a hit at our summer parties. Our pot still has the burn marks from the fire and every time we pull the pot for another boil I think of the first time.

Factoid- The Classic Misconception: Ale or Lager?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/beersci-what-difference-between-lager-and-ale

Diagram of Ales vs. Lagers

After about ten minutes in the craft-brewing scene I’m sure that you have heard the terms ale and lager. Unfortunately, they are all too often used interchangeably. I will put this misconception to rest with the help of Popular Science Magazine. The difference is as fundamental as both use different types of yeast: ales have top feeding, warm activated yeast; while lagers use bottom feeing, cold activated yeast.

Ale yeast usually ferments more quickly than lagers and they are often sweeter, fuller-bodied, and fruiter in taste. Classic ales are: IPA’s (my favorite), Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts, Wheats, and Browns.

Lagers are the most widely consumed and available style of beer in the world. They ferment slower than ales and are known for a “crisp” taste. Classic lagers are: Bocks, Pilsners, and Marzens.

You are now smarter. Read the article. It’s neat.

 

Community News- Pacific Flavor Coming to the Midwest

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/10/13/hawaiian-craft-brewer-chooses-cincinnati-to-make.html

Kona Brewing

Kona Brewing Company will be releasing three beers in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. They will be having tastings at Jungle Jims in Eastgate, Ohio on 10/31 and 11/02. They plan on serving their Kua Bay IPA, Lavaman Red, and Black Lava Lager to be sampled at the tastings. I doubt I can make it, but I am excited for the Kua Bay IPA to go on sale.

 

 

 

Review- Coors Brewery Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager

Batch 19 and Glass

Batch 19 and Glass

This week’s flavor comes from Coors Brewery and their Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager. I had never heard of the beer until over the weekend while I was talking to one of my girlfriend’s uncles at a bon fire (see picture of her above in front of the flames). I should have avoided the beer pallet of a man with a Miller Lite in his hand. “Situational awareness,” says my dad. Her uncle is a nice guy, but this is not a good beer.

I grew up with one rule about beer passed down from my father and his father before him going back to the beginning of time, “If you pour a beer into a glass and can see through it don’t drink it” (I have found a few exceptions to this rule, but do not tell them). I knew that I had made a mistake as soon as I could see my fingers on the other side of the glass through the beer.

I will try not to be cruel, but I did not enjoy this beer. It tasted like anything else from the Coors brewery. There was nothing special about the beer to mention. The six pack cost $7.99 at Walmart and the remaining beers will be used as cooking beers. Do not drink this beer.

 

Wish list:

Next week I will review a beer that I know I like and can give you a good review (probably an IPA).

I will also do SEO and other maintenance to the site in order to increase traffic to the site.

 

PROST!

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion:

 

  • Tell a story of when someone recommended a beer to you, you tried it, and you wondered how in the world he or she could like that beer. Remember to hit comment at the top.

Drinking and Politics

Update 10/23/14

10/23/14

Brewing Update:

We only brew preassembled kits that we get at a local brewing supply store outside of Cincinnati. I will refer to the beers by the names that the store uses for them.

We have not brewed anything new recently. Right now we are drinking on Wrath of the Tsar, which is an Imperial Stout. We did not take a specific gravity, but we are told by the storeowners that it is close to 9% ABV. I believe them. I can feel them hit after just two or three. This is not a get drunk beer, but one to sit and enjoy slowly. It will punch you from behind if you are not careful.

We just bottled the Area 51, which is an IPA. You will find that I am an IPA guy and I am very excited about this beer. We had it in the fermenting bucket for two weeks and dry hopped it one week. It has currently been in the bottles for almost a week by the time this post gets out. We will let it carbonate for one more week and then drink it. I foresee me drinking it more than him, because I am a hophead. I love the stuff, the stronger the IPA the better.

Factoid:

I am an information junkie. I think I have some weird disorder where I get entertainment from learning things. This week’s factoid comes from Ed Crews at Colonial Williamsburg on Drinking in Colonial America. Colonial candidates for political office attracted voters with alcohol. They would distribute pints of beer and hard cider as they gave their political speeches. Imagine how many more people would show up to the ballot box if there was a pint waiting for them. I, as a full-blooded American, do not require alcohol to get me to the ballot box, but I would love for alcohol to get me out.

If you are a candidate during this midterm-election period do what your ancestors did and you will have “one up” on the competition. I’ll vote for you.

You can find the link to the Crews article here. It’s a long read, but very worth it.

Community News:

This week’s news is two fold. First, the American Homebrewers Association is holding its National Homebrewers Conference June 11-13, 2015 in San Diego, California.

Secondly, they are also calling for submissions for presenters to speak at the conference. If you would like to present at the 2015 American Homebrewers Conference you can find the link to the site here.

Review:

For this week’s review I would like to call attention to Rivertown Brewing Company’s Dunkel Beer.Rivertown Dunkle I had another beer lined up, but when I got off of work tonight I tried this great beer and had to change the review.

It’s a Munich style dark lager with mild roasted flavor mixed with caramel. The color is that of a dark, classic dunkel you would expect from a Munich style and it has a smooth finish.

All that aside, I enjoyed drinking this beer. It was around $9 for a six pack. I recommend this beer for those you like smooth, dark lagers. Drink this beer.

Wish List:

I would like to see a brew happen here in the valley by the next post on the 30th so I can have a more interesting Brewing Update for you.

Another item for the wish list would be to have the Instagram set up so you can see all the pictures I take of us brewing and drinking the beers around here.

Thanks for reading this week. Don’t forget to follow the blog, like, share, and comment on the discussion question below. Feel free to email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com with questions or suggestions. I am always open to new things.

Prost!

Discussion Question- Remember to hit the “Comment” button at the top and leave your answer.

  • “Would you rather pay $12 for a six-pack or $6 for a twelve-pack? Why?”

What Home Brewing Is Not

What Home Brewing Is NotMLAAHB_logo

If you have not made yourself familiar with the About page please make your way over there to find all the information of what to expect from myself and this site along with learning a bit about me. However, for my first post I will digress away from what will be the normal formatting to bring up something that has been on my mind. I wish to discuss What Home Brewing Is Not.

 

My list for What Home Brewing Isn’t:

  1. A cheaper way to get beer:
  • By the time that you factor in the cost to buy the brewing equipment, even the beginning/lowest grade equipment, you are still looking at a cost near or better than $100. Then there are upgrades. There is the cost of water and the rising cost of electricity (or gas) to heat the water to make the wort. You have to buy bottles and caps or kegs. You have the buy special sanitizer for all your equipment. Then the ingredients can cost a pretty penny. Last but not least, time. Everyone has heard the phrase, “Time is money.” It takes time to make beer and that costs you money. It could take a few hours to brew a single batch. Then the batch has to be transferred to the fermenting keg, carboy, or other large and sealable container so the yeast can do their work. Home brewing is not cheap alternative to buying a case of cold ones from the local Stab-and-Grab down the street.
  1. A way to get drunk quicker since there is more alcohol in craft beer:
  • This is a straw man argument that I run into sometimes. True, there is (usually) more alcohol in home brewed beers. True, they do taste better and go down quicker than the more common beers. However, the types of people that are involved with brewing their own beer or indulging in craft beer are not the kind of people that drink with the sole purpose to get drunk. Craft beer and home brewing are about more than just getting 16oz. of liquid with a certain alcohol by volume; it’s about the experience. Someone who has the patience to wait weeks or months for their own batch to be ready to drink is not the same type of person who will throw drinks back to get tanked on Thursday night before their kid’s little league soccer game. We do it for the experience of making something with our hands. We do it to try new things and get a sweat going while we do it. We do it for the reward that we can enjoy a cold one with the satisfaction that we made it. It’s American to make beer. It’s the true entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great.
  1. Only people with a high level of skill can home brew
  • False, there are many preassembled kits out there that have all the ingredients that you need to get started with step-by-step instructions to get it done. If you can read at the level of a third-grader then you can brew beer. Currently, my father and I only use these preassembled kits. I hope to make our own recipes soon, but for now even we are playing it safe.
  1. Only people with a lot of free time can home brew
  • False, the actual brewing part itself does not take that long. I think the longest brew we did here in the valley took three hours, but that was because we had to do it over an open fire outside where we had little control over the heat (story time in another post, it’s a good one). Most brews that we have done take an hour and a half to two hours for a five-gallon batch. Make it a Sunday afternoon tradition between the football games.
  • However, home brewing does take a lot of patience. Once the beer is brewed you have to let it do its own thing. It is best to put the beer in the fermenter and forget about it until bottling time (unless it requires dry hopping or other additives during the fermenting). After it’s bottled then there is another week or two for it carbonate. Patience, patience, patience.
  1. Home brewers are snobby people who think they know everything about beer
  • Within any community of people you are going to have a few bad apples. But I do not think that a minority should dictate the identity of the majority (and that goes far beyond just the home brewing community). I know a bunch of great home brewers. People from all walks of life, big and small, old and young, men and women, blue collar and white collar. Home brewing does not attract people who have the attitude of, “Allow me to attach my monocle whilst we discuss fermentation, my good man” (my attempt at a snobbish tone). Every home brewer I have met was very humble and could not wait to learn more about his or her hobby.
  1. It’s dangerous
  • Anything you do in life carries some risk. Driving to work everyday is more dangerous than home brewing. Human error is always a factor in everything we do. It’s what makes up people. The human experience is fun. We are going to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. The risk of an over boil, fire, CO2 exposure, bottle/keg explosions, and others are always there. If you pay attention to what you are doing and use common sense you are going to avoid a vast majority of dangerous issues.
  • If you experience any issues ask people what you did wrong. This site is for a community to share knowledge, laughs, beer, and to make memories.

That’s my list of What Home Brewing Is Not. This week’s discussion question: What do you think home brewing is or is not? Post your answers. Hit the “leave a comment” button at the top of the page.