Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Rubber Duckie Brewery
Naturally, when we moved my brewing hobby out of the kitchen into its own space in the basement, complete with a fabulous new state-of-the art system from More Beer, the brewery needed a name. Guess how long it took to come up with one?
It's a ten-gallon capacity Ranco-controlled brewery, with automatic recirculation so I can maintain temps within two degrees. And those glorious pumps have eliminated all that lifting. Five gallons of beer weighs a lot!
The hood (can't see it in the picture) is ten times the hood we currently have in the kitchen. Talking about priorities! That will all change with our new house. And the brewery will be close to the kitchen. Yeah!
Making beer is a fascinating process. I started with the cake mix approach, pouring a dry malt extract into a soup pot on the kitchen stove, bringing it to a boil and adding pelleted hops per a particular schedule depending upon the bittering andflavoring profile I was after. (i.e according to a recipe)
For better flavor--not so boxed tasting as a in the cake mix comparison--I started steeping my grain and doing partial mashes, adding the steeped grains to the boil kettle.
Then I went whole grain. I bought Gott coolers retrofitted with spigots. I turned out some great beers with this setup. But was making a mess of the kitchen and having to lug equipment and beer up and down stairs and outside.
Brewing beer is magic. Here's a simplified play-by-play:
Crush some whole grain (malted barley mostly) and steep it in a pot of water at temperature x. This is called "mashing" and smells incredibly wonderful. We used to make bran mashes for our horses, so this reminds me of those cold evenings when the horses would slurp the steamy stuff.
Drain the resultant sweet liquor into the brew pot. Bring it to a boil. Add hops at different times. (The scent of hops is so wonderful I'm tempted to market hop perfume!) Essentailly the early ones add bitterness and the latter ones flowery notes, a citrusy tang, depending upon hope variety. At the end of the boil (one hour usually) cool the wort through a chiller into the frementing vessel. Add yeast.
The next morning the thing will be bubbling up a storm. When it has finished fermenting (a gadget called a "hydrometer" assures no bottles will explode) you bottle or keg the beer. Give it a little time to condition, then a few days to chill, and enjoy!
I've been super busy in the last two years so haven't entered many competitions, but I did win a best of show and always enter the Queen of Beer--and manage to always get a ribbon. Go girls!