Brewing up Memories…

My neighbors Uncle Rod got a beer brewing kit for Christmas and I got a couple refill kits from Santa too! I wanted to try a couple other recipes like nut brown ale and a batch of hard cider. Uncle Rod had the kit batch for pale India Ale that I made last year and it’s a good one. Very tolerable and good tasting. It took me a year to go through 22 bottles! (I am not a big drinker for sure! Haha… and I shared quite of few of them with friends…) So we decided to get together and get a couple batches started and have a brewing party!

We three brewmasters are here taking in the measurements. Jr., Rod and I are making sure that the keg is filled up with the proper water level.

Making home brew is not that hard and I really recommend the Mr. Beer kits for starting out. They are good solid kits, with nice variations from standard brews to fancy lagers and ales. And very reasonably priced. They have a lot of specials too, like free shipping and other sales. A basic kit is less than $10 and makes about 22 to 24 bottles of beer. The deluxe kits run about $15 to $20 for the same number of bottles. Any premium small brewery beer in a store will easily set you back $5 to $8 a six pack, so I think the kits are very economical. And the best part, you make it all yourself! Very rewarding and of course, a lesson in patience! As the longer you let it all brew, the better the beer!

The first step in brewing is to clean and sterilize your container, pot and stirring spoon. You should use stainless steel for your brewing, it is easier to get nice and clean. Do not use a non-stick surface as those can make your brew funky, and can be harder to get super clean. The Mr. Beer kits come with a non-rinse cleaner that helps to get rid of any wild yeast as well as clean your tools and vessels.

Once you are clean and ready to start, most of the kits have you heat up about 4 cups of water and then add your hops and malt cans from the kit. Stir until dissolved and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off the heat and get ready to mix in with a keg half full of cool water.

And just like canning, it’s really important to try and keep your tools all nice and clean. Don’t lay the spoon on the counter or use an unsterilized tool to say scrap out the thick malt, forgetting to sterilize it. You just want to make sure that you keep your brew from getting skunked, or just adding too much wild yeast that would make the recipe change or alter some. If you just go slowly and adopt a nice simple routine for it all, you will end up with nice, consistent brews! And that’s what you want.

Jr. is scaring Uncle Rod with his high regard for cleanliness! I love these friends of ours! Everyone has a good sense of humor and we are all into homesteading and learning about good old skills from the past. Uncle Rod makes some mighty fine home brewed wine and he promised to show me how to make some when we get together in a month to bottle our beers! I think I want to make either a strawberry or peach wine! Both are my favorites and I think that would be really neat to learn!

Once your wort cools a bit… you just add it to the brewing keg and then top off with the proper amount of cool water. Stirring to make the wort mix nicely with the water. The malt and hops mixture is call the wort. I love that name… it just sounds fun to say.

Once you have it all mixed up, you add the yeast pack. Give it 5 minutes to hydrate and then you mix it up real good and cap off the keg. Remove to a nice cool and dark area for at LEAST 7 days, better for 14 and awesome at 21! I’ve read that for the first step, going much over a month doesn’t make it that much better, so I figure 21 days is good enough to hatch a chick and good enough to brew up a beer!

In 21 days, we’ll get back together and decant off the beer and bottle it. We’ll add a wee bit of sugar, about three quarters of a teaspoon in each bottle and cap it up. Then, we’ll tuck it away for another month and let it carbonate. The yeasted wort will use that sugar under pressure to gas up the beer! It’s a fairly simple process and has been done for thousands of years. For this batch of nut brown ale and the hard cider, I am definitely going to design up a great Windhaven brewery label series! And we will give them some awesome Windhaven names… I think the cider I want to call Pony Kick Cider and I’m still thinking, but the brown ale needs a good sheep name… maybe named after Molly, our little brown ewe… Sweet Molly Ale! haha… that’s half the fun, coming up with the names. I have another kit that is a rich red lager… I think that will have to be named after the roos of Windhaven! Copper Roo Lager… hmmm…. named for our first born chick, our young rooster Copper! He’s a red and gray boy, Bucka Roo’s first born. Sounds good to me… Pony Kick, Sweet Molly and Copper Roo Lager!!
It was sure fun getting together to try these things out. Fun with friends and kids too! Aw, most of our kids are nearly adults, if not already adults… and if they learn to craft and brew their own beer someday, they will know its a contentment thing, a lost skill and something to savor and enjoy, not abuse! I can’t wait to showcase some of our brews at our sheep shearing party come spring!!! I’m thinking BBQ chicken and pork ribs from our own stock… homemade breads and jams, fresh pound cakes, rich with our hen’s eggs and strawberries from the local fields! It will be a celebration of a year at the homestead! And we’ll toast to the new season with a round of home brewed ales! How cool will that be???

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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.

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