I always said my dream job would be a to be a brewmaster. Except I had never made beer.
Making beer at home is something I have been interested in for a long time. A while back, I watched a documentary called The American Brew: The Rich and Surprising History of Beer. It was fascinating, hitting all the highlights of American beer companies, the burgeoning craft beer industry, and even the popularity of homebrewing. For the segment on homebrewing, the documentary featured Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, founders of The Brooklyn Brew Shop. The Brooklyn Brew Shop evolved out of the idea that there just wasn’t a one-stop-shop for folks who wanted to get into homebrewing that offered good quality ingredients and equipment.
I remember the first few times I tried canning. I was nervous. There seemed to be so much that could go wrong. But now I’m totally comfortable doing it, and don’t even need to consult the directions every time. Making the beer was a lot like those first few times I canned: making sure I followed the directions to a “T”. I was nervous. But now I’m hooked on homebrewing. One sip of beer that I made is all it took.
These kits seriously have everything you would need. Thermometer? Check. Tubing? Check. Sanitizer? Check. You seriously don’t need to buy anything in addition to the kit. The directions for all the beers are on the website. Just download them when you buy your beer kit. You actually will need something to keep your finished beer in. You can use resealable beer bottles like the kind Grolsch comes in. They might be a little bit hard to find. Grolsch beer is still sold out there. My dad found a whole bucket of used Grolsch bottles an at estate sale for like $3, so I just borrowed some from him. You’ll need six bottles.
I had a general idea how beer was made, but after making this match, I understand why things are done the way they are. The science behind it makes sense to me now, which is fascinating and makes me appreciate good beer even more.
Once you strain off the grain, you have what’s called wort. This is when things got interesting. You have to boil the wort, adding hops at intervals while you boil it. Did you know this is the step when beer gets its flavor? I opened the packages of hops and took a nice deep inhale. Wow. If you like the taste of hops, you’ll love the smell. Absolutely amazing.
The last step on this day is to put it in the carboy and pitch the yeast. Now the hard part comes… Waiting.
I couldn’t help but to check it every day when I got home from work. The first two days, it bubbled out of the tube like crazy. This is a good sign, it means it’s fermenting! Leave it alone for about two weeks.
Bottling was kinda a messy process, but didn’t take long at all. Now more waiting while the beer bottle conditions.
Two weeks later, “Ah!” This beer was so tasty. I chose Everyday IPA, and it really is a nice balanced IPA that appeals to even non-IPA drinkers, I think.
Now that I have a kit, all I need are the ingredients to make another batch. You can buy those in a single package from The Brooklyn Brew Shop. They have seasonal brews that they rotate throughout the year. You can even sign up for a Brew Club membership, and they’ll send you a kit every quarter. This is very tempting. I just can’t decide what kind I want next.
There are tons of videos on The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s website guiding you through every step from day one until you are drinking your beer. They truly want everyone out there to give it a try and get a good batch. Homebrewing is becoming so popular, I think as more people are getting back into our kitchens, and becoming aware of where the food (and drinks) we enjoy come from and are made of. This is definitely something that anyone who appreciates good beer needs to try.
So, I know the reason you suffered through all my pictures and ramblings. The giveaway, right?
Maybe you, like I, have dreamed of a career as a brewmaster. Maybe you just like beer. Either way, if you ever needed a push to get you into it, or you just really want to learn about beer making, I’m talking to you, here.
Erica and Stephen, the brains behind The Brooklyn Brew Shop, have graciously provided an autographed copy of their book, Make Some Beer: Small Batch Recipes from Brooklyn to Bamberg for one lucky reader. Even if you aren’t quite ready to brew your own beer, this book is fascinating. Did you know that Erica and Stephen got The Brooklyn Brew Shop off the ground by quitting their day jobs, packing up a suitcase and travelling to all the great beer cities and regions in Europe for a few weeks? I want that life. Le sigh.
The book is full of recipes from some of the greatest breweries in Europe and the stories that go along with the beers. The book is really incredible. I’m kinda sad I can’t keep it.
But that’s a good thing for you, because one of you will get it. All you need to do to win is to leave me a comment below telling me your favorite type of beer. You might be like me, and have trouble narrowing it down. That’s okay. Simply “not Busch Light” is an acceptable answer. Want an extra entry? Follow The Brooklyn Brew Shop on twitter, and then leave another comment telling me that you do. You can get one more entry for liking The Brooklyn Brew Shop on Facebook and leaving me a separate comment telling me that you did. Finally, you can get a fourth entry by tweeting a link to this post and leaving a comment with the url of your tweet. That’s four entries total. The contest is open until Wednesday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m. The winning comment will be randomly selected and the author notified by email. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. So get to commenting and liking and all that. Good luck, folks!
*This giveaway was sponsored by The Brooklyn Brew Shop, who has provided the book. The opinions and content are, as always, exclusively mine.