Hello ladies, how are you? Fantastic. Does your man look like me? No. Can he make beer like me? Yes. If your guy can make instant oatmeal, he can make you a beer with more flavor than chocolate. In fact, he can make you a beer with chocolate in it. Or, if you like, you can do it yourself and not break the bank.
If you are tired of the same-old same-old beer, you know what I mean: beer whose only taste is “fizzy.” Then you are ready for craft beer. And, one of the best things about craft beer is you can make great tasting handcrafted beer yourself. And you will gather friends to help you drink your beer.
Here are some reasons to brew your own beer:
You can be creative. If you want chocolate and habañero chiles in your beer, you can make your beer with chocolate and habañero chiles. You can make light or dark…or pink beer, if that lights your candle.
You will know exactly what is in your beer because you made it. Nothing you want left out is in and nothing you want in is left out.
It is simple to do. We humans have been making beer for as long as we have been growing grains. When you brew, you connect with a tradition that is thousands of years old. That’s downright ennobling, ain’t it?
It’s pretty cheap to make. No expensive high-tech equipment is needed. You need a pot to boil in and a container (such as a food-grade bucket with airtight lid and airlock) to ferment in.
Beer is honest. Beer doesn’t lie to you (unless you drink too many—then it lies like a cheap rug). If your beer has a problem, it tells you (it never says, “If you don’t know what the problem is then I’m not going to tell you either!”). Homebrewed beer gives you honest feedback as to whether you did it correctly.
When you homebrew, you will learn the secret handshake that all homebrewers around the world know that gets them free beer at all places that serve good beer. [Okay, I made that one up. But, I have told a brewpub’s waitstaff that I’m a homebrewer and have been invited back to see the brewing equipment and have been given samples to try.]
Good people drink good beer. If you are interested in trying, there is help available for brewing. There is a club dedicated to brewing good beer here in Lake County that meets at 6pm on the third Monday of each month at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville. They love talking about beer and how to make it and how to make it better. They don’t talk politics, religion, gossip, or current events; it is all about the beer.
What does it take to get started brewing beer? That’s for next time. For now, “Relax,” as the Godfather of homebrewing, Charlie Papazian advises, “don’t worry, have a homebrew” (or a store-bought craft beer if there’s no homebrew around).
Or, at least, demonstrating how to make beer without tastings of already-made home-brewed beer.
Two weekends ago my friend (and prez of the Lake County Homebrewers) Paul and I manned a booth for our homebrewing club at the Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival in Lakeport, CA. It was the first time in at least five years that the booth for the Lake County Homebrewers’ group did not provide tastings of home-brewed beers. We decided to not pour our beers due to an opinion given to us by local officials of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (CABC) that pouring any of our homebrew at public events violates State law (at least as the local CABC interprets their regulations–regulations transform squishy language found in legislation to more concrete, hence more quantifiable language, then officials charged with enforcing the regulations interpret what the regulation’s language actually means). So, our group decided, we just could not risk losing our equipment to a CABC raid of our homes. Some of our group are going pro and will be opening nano-breweries soon and cannot risk pissing off the people reviewing their liquor licenses.
Consequently, Paul and I demonstrated the steps necessary to make an all-grain batch of India Pale Ale called Hoppiness is an IPA. Its (10 gallon) recipe is available here as a PDF.
Technically, we did not have beer until we added yeast. We split the 10-gallons of wort into two 5-gallon fermenters and took our half home where we added White Labs WP005 British Ale Yeast to the cooled wort.
I bottled my portion today (two weeks later). The starting original gravity was 1.061. The final gravity was 1.014 SG. That calculates to an attenuation of 76.5% and an ABV of 6.3% (almost a session beer by today’s IPA standards). It has ample piney bitterness and not citrusy.
The Lake County Homebrewers’ demonstrating how to make your own beer. Note the mash tun, boil kettle, and propane burner on the left side of the photo.
A hopsack for keeping the hop residue from the wort and thus giving more yield than having to leave the trub at the bottom of the boil kettle.
A remote electronic thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the water and the mash.
In the past we have poured samples of our homebrew at this event. This year, sadly, we will not be pouring samples. While the California Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) may issue a special daily license to a group conducting a picnic, social, or similar gathering, the local ABC officials interpret this as applying only to commercially made beer and wine.
Live in Lake County, Calif and make or want to learn how to make your own beer? Join us.
Our next scheduled Lake County Homebrew Club (visit our Facebook page here) meeting is set for Monday May 21, 2012 at 6 PM at at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville.
Among other things, we will talk about the Big Brew we had on May 5, the upcoming Lake County Winemakers Fest, taste and evaluate each others beers, and we will be tasting spices, fruits, and whatever we might want to try to steep in beers using French presses.
Bring a glass (wineglasses work well) for tasting, and (if you are a homebrewer) bring some of your homebrew to share.
For more information, contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
The next meeting of the Lake County Homebrew Club is scheduled for Monday March 26, 2012 at 6 PM at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville. Don’t forget to bring ideas for a club project, a glass and, if possible, some homebrew to share.