Another thing I have been doing lately is trying my hand at brewing beer. A few months ago a friend and fellow beer lover brought up the idea of making our own beer. That sounded like a fantastic idea to me. He had found a set of instructions for a basic ale on the how-to site instructables. We bought the ingredients at The Lil’ Ole Winemaker Shoppe here in Nashville. I had bought a MR. BEER kit quite a few years back, so we used the brew keg fermenter from that for our fermenting container.
The basic process is pretty simple. You steep the ingredients in boiling water for awhile, let it cool, pour it into a fermenting container, add yeast, and let it sit in a cool dark place for a week or so. We used the tub in his guest bathroom, just in case of any accidents.
The next step is to prime the beer. Priming is adding a little additional sugar to the beer so that the remaining yeast will feed on it an produce CO2 that will carbonate the beer. We did this by adding a small amount of regular cane sugar to each bottle before we added the beer.
The final step is bottling the beer. We used pry-off bottles that we had asked our friends to save. We rinsed them and then ran them through the dishwasher on an antibacterial cycle. Keeping things clean and contaminant free is important throughout the entire process. We filled the bottles from the spout on the MR.BEER keg and capped them using a hand bottlecapper.
After that, we waited another week or so, and the beer was finished. We ended up with about 25 bottle from a 2.5 gallon batch. Much to our surprise, it turned out delicious! We have started another batch, this time using amber malt extract instead of the light malt extract called for in the recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Update – May 24, 2009 – We debuted our second batch at a party Friday night! It was a hit. It turned out similar to Newcastle. It was also mentioned that it had hints of cotton candy flavor, but in a good way.