I have started a new hobby this year. Seems like it may stick as I just finished my third batch. It is all grain brewing - making homebrew from malt yeast and hops. As in all of my favorite hobbies, brewing requires a significant amount of specialized equipment, terminology, ingredients and knowledge, so it fulfills my need to spend hours of time researching equipment, ideas and recipes. There is a widely dispersed group of suppliers, aficionados and online sites to peruse, books and bulletin boards to read.
Most people who homebrew use a product called an extract which is malt that has already been condensed down to a concentrated product ready to boil with hops and ferment with yeast. The alternative is to take malted barley and mix with hot water and create your own extract. Kind of like making a cake from scratch as opposed to making one from a box kit. Of course, I elected to go with scratch!
To make a batch of homebrew, to go from malt to fermenting wort (one of those terms I told you about), takes about 5 hours. Half a workday. Then, your wort has to ferment for 2 weeks before being ready to bottle. And once it is bottled, it takes anywhere from 2 - 4 weeks to "bottle condition", which is basically aging and carbonation. Then you finally have beer, of some unknown quality and character.
Yesterday was the day to bottle batch # 3 which was an English Special Bitter. I got Hunter to help me with this step. Basically, you add a little sugar to create the carbonation, transfer the fermented wort to the bottles aseptically, and cap the bottles. You can see Hunter and I doing this in the following photos.
So now, just a few more weeks and I will be able to see how it all turns out. Until then, I have another batch or two of malt that needs to be started!
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