The One Where I Learn How to Brew Beer

I brewed my own beer this summer.

It wasn’t great.

When we lived in Tallahassee, we were good friends with Leslie and Keith.  Keith is an experienced homebrewer, with quite a lot of expertise.  So much so that he even brewed a beer for us to celebrate our wedding.  I was pregnant at the time, but I think Dave was fairly certain that I would cut him if he drank all of the homebrew before I could have any.  When it was time, it was delicious.  Just a really great beer.

When we were in Tallahassee, we tried to get into home brewing, but it was hard.  I was in grad school and Nico was young, and we were coaching.  So, it didn’t really happen.  Eventually, I got rid of all the home brew stuff.

But since I am trying to knock out the things I can off my list, I figured it was a good time to try again.  So, I bought a new kit.  And the stuff.  And the materials.  And gave it a go.

Truth be told, it wasn’t great.

The thing is, that I like crisp, light beers.  My favorites include Old Style.  Technically, I like pilseners, which are kind of a special class of lager (I think).  This beer I made was, while light, kinda of tangy, which is a weird taste for a beer.  I want beer that I can slug after mowing the lawn or playing soccer.  This wasn’t refreshing like that.  It is drinkable.  But I’m not sure I would share it with  a lot of people.

But it was a good learning process.  I learned how to use a hydrometer, which is a tool for measuring the gravity of liquids.


I actually walked through all the steps of making the beer, and did it completely by myself, which was pretty cool.  It was a bit of a shit show:

  1.  I scalded the wort.  I didn’t realize it was possible to do this.  Essentially, I was using malted extract and poured the big can of syrupy thick stuff in the water and didn’t realize that it was so thick it would settle and scald.  I ended up having to strain black burned bits out of the beer.
  2. Sanitizing and cleaning bottles is a beat down.  I bought some bottles from the brew store, but also recycled a bunch, which involved soaking and peeling the labels off.  Something I didn’t realize, is that among the pry-lid bottles, they are not the same size.
  3. I broke several bottles.  I thought  I wasn’t using the bottle capper right, but it turns out that there were several different sized bottles.  So, I was putting the muscle on this bottles and they were just shredding in my hands.  It was kind of annoying.
  4. Brewing beer is a messy endeavor.  It really should be done outside- most kitchens are not well set up for it.
  5. Our place isn’t big enough.

The unfortunate thing about home brewing,  is that I feel like you do a lot of work and can’t even be guaranteed a good beer. Which is annoying.  So, when I plan to be out by the brew place, I plan to take a bottle of my beer and ask them why it tasted the way it did.

If it is a matter of the type of extract I used, that is an easy fix.  I think I might try actually brewing with the hops next time.  Take my game to the next level.