When I made beer seeds last week, I mentioned something about brewing beer.
Yup, it’s true: We’ve got a little mini brewery bubbling away in our basement. I bought Tito a beer-brewing kit in 1999, and since the first couple of poorly engineered attempts back then (ask him about the time the gals living downstairs knocked on his door to ask why there was beer dripping down their walls), each batch has gotten progressively better. These days, his beer making skills are downright impressive.
Months ago, I promised to let him post his own beer recipe. This is probably the first of many. No guarantees on the quality or descriptions of the flavor, as it’s still fermenting in our basement, but I’d venture to say it’ll be comparable to the high-quality microbrews one finds in the Seattle area. It usually is.
If you’ve never brewed beer before and want to get started, print the PDF below and take it in to your friendly neighborhood beer brewing supply store – they’ll help you get outfitted, teach you the difference between wort and the wort on your finger, and explain why flavor and aroma hops are added at different times during the brewing process.
For inspiration, Tito recommends Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard (no direct relation), Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, or Pike’s Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale.
Eurotrash Ale (PDF)
Recipe 301 of 365
If Europe is the birthplace of beer, then America is the over-priced prep school where beer learned to roll its own and get away with a few tricks. Here’s a beer with (mostly) Euro ingredients and (minus the polo shirt) American style.
TIME: 2 hours brewing, 1 week fermenting, 1 hour bottling, 3 weeks conditioning
MAKES: 5 gallons
1 six-pack commercial beer (for inspiration)
1 lb. Two-row English Barley grains, crushed
6 lbs. English Wheat malt extract
2 oz. German Hallertau hops (3.9% acidity)
2 oz. American Willamette hops (4.5 % acidity)
1 packet Wyeast “Thames” starter yeast
First, open the inspiration and make sure it meets your standards. Next, start a large pot of water on the stove at medium heat. Although this makes 5 gallons (the standard homebrew batch size), you can make as little as 2 gallons of wort (quick definition: water undergoing improvement) and dilute to 5 gallons later. Steep the two-row barley (yes, it is grown in field with two rows) in the pot as the water warms. You can make life easier by encasing the grains in cheesecloth, like a big tea bag.
Steep the grains for at least 30 minutes, adjusting the heat to keep the temperature of the wort around 150 F. Then, remove the grains (see, the tea bag was a good idea) and bring the wort to a low boil (212 F, unless brewing at altitude). For extra credit, “sparge” the grains to get more color and depth of flavor in your beer.
More inspiration. Once the wort has reached a gentle boil, stir in the wheat malt extract. Maintain a gentle boil for 60 minutes, during which the carbohydrates in the wheat and barley will breakdown into simple sugars ideal for fermentation. Add the Hallertau hops at the beginning of the 60-minute boil to add a bitter high-note flavor to the beer. Add the Willamete hops for the final 15 minutes to sharpen the aroma and after-taste of the beer. Hop timing can be adjusted to preference (earlier hops affect flavor, later hops affect aroma).
Inspiration running low? Thought so. There are six for a reason. After the 60-minute boil, immediately cool the wort to 75 F by placing the pot in an ice bath and by adding cold water (until 5 gallons total). Pop the starter yeast package and wait until it swells (ensuring a healthy yeast culture), then “pitch” the yeast into the wort and cap with an airlock. The one-way airlock will allow gas to escape during fermentation, while preventing contamination of the yeast culture.
Allow the fermentation to continue for about a week (or until your fancy hydrometer says the specific gravity has changed sufficiently… again, about a week), then add 5 oz. of dissolved sugar and siphon into bottles for conditioning. Wait three weeks, throw a big party, then repeat.
Brewer’s note: Brewing is ancient and simple. And easy. Just make sure you clean your equipment well, so the yeast can live in peace, and don’t listen to the guy at the homebrew store trying to sell you $300 worth of equipment. Oh, and there are good ingredients online at Seven Bridges.
This recipe is brought to you by Fahm House Brewing, a subsidiary of Tito Beverages, Inc. It might be subject to a copyright clause, but in-house legal counsel is drunk and not answering calls today. Typical.