My Brewing History

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Something in me always made me curious about brewing like it was in my blood, but just never got around to investigating it further.

My brother-in-law got married in summer 2008 and as one of his groomsmen he gave us each a Mr. Beer Kit. I was pretty jazzed: "Canadian Draght", whatever that means.

So I screwed on the little spigot after the festivities of his wedding, leak, leak, then I got it right. Poured the little can of extract syrup and thought I was hot stuff spooning in some table sugar. OK now ice bath, uh huh, get it below 80F (pfft yeah what the hell for?) and then pitch my little packet of ancient yeast. Cool! Turned out OK at a guesstimated 2.3%ABV.

Then I went to Brew Hut and got a Cooper's Pilsener and a bock I think, but know I'm going to throw in a little more syrup and fill that dang simulated wood grain plastic barrel another quart.

Then I went to Beer at Home and wanted to be official and got your typical setup. Racking cane? Airlock? Geez this is getting complicated! I did one of their intermediate partial mash kits. Cool! Hey gotta squeeze my tea bag of grain to get all that sugar out. At this point I felt like Tim Hanks in "Castaway" with my 1oz static bag of hops, "Me make beer with my own hops, ah, ha ha ha ha ha!"

Then about 12 batches ago I just said forget it. Stop being scared of the mystique of all grain. So I got my Lowe's 5 gallon cooler jacked up the 4" too long bazooka screen from all the turning, and made my first mash without.... EXTRACT! Yes! On top of that I had timed the carmelizing of chunks of fresh pumpkin and included it in the cooler and it turned out pretty well. To boot I primed it with brown sugar (not quite enough).

I then got into harvesting yeast, larger mashtun, made a watermelon Wit, Abbey Ale with golden raisin, brewed my first 2 lagers (Baltic Cherry Porter and Oktoberfest). Dryhopping with all kinds of ingredients is a blast. I did an Anchor Steam for a friend's graduation party and it was spot on, but my favorite was my Imperial Irish Red that I need to make again soon. I've brewed with nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel, grains of paradise, honey, molasses, and most recently treacle. I just bought a copy of BeerSmith and after learning my water pH is 8.2 (yeah really!), that I now swear by 5.2 stabilizer and gypsum.

My first contest was at this years state fair in one of the most competitive categories, American IPA, my first IPA. I'm a little down that they all loved how it looked, but said it tastes vegetal, ugghh!

Then mostly recently my Oktoberfest is overcarbonated, but not quite geyser like. When I bring some to the 9/10 meeting pour it in a glass, but let it sit for about 10-15 min or the bubbles will numb your palate. After that, the caramel comes out nicely. While you wait I'll tell you about why I almost pitched the whole batch and how I rescued it from near demise.

Also my Abbey with golden raisin is 2 cases worth of geysers and that was almost a month long secondary, so yes you can sample my fau pauxes, but know it's not my greatest work.

The silver lining is the Barleywine that I now have to wait forever the enjoy.

I have a hop spider whose only flaw is the screen bag.

On the horizon I plan to go to 10 gallon batches, almost have my DIY stirplate made, and am ready to brew a small pilot batch of my Smores (porter) creation. On my bucket list is to do a decoction mash, likely a November Bock or March Pilsener. Yes I know highly modified grains usually don't need that, but I still want to try it.
I still need to get into kegging as I'm friggin tired of cleaning bottle labels off and sanitizing them all.

Glad to me hear as the new pup and look forward to learning from you all. Next Sat, I'll probably be inspecting everyone's setups and taking notes on your techniques to make sure I'm not doing anything the hard way.


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