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Home Brew Update

Bottling the Bavarian Weizen

I spent the better part of Saturday cleansing, sanitzing and dry heat sterilizing in preparation to bottling a sweet Bavarian wheat beer that has quietly fermented over the past two weeks. Now that it is bottled, it will age for three weeks before serving. Only then will I know if all my efforts to create this beer was successful.  Of course, I’ve appealed to all the brewing gods for a drinkable batch of beer.

It is one thing to enjoy craft beer and another to create craft beer.  Surprisingly, I found Donald Rumsfeld accurately summed up the daunting task of home brewing with his famous quote:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

I’m certain Donald did not have home brewing on his mind when he coined this quote. Still, I’ve yet to find a more suitable quote that captures my experience with home brewing.

Craft beer brewing is part art, science and a touch of alchemy.  There are many factors that need attention while creating beer and there are at least a thousand ways you can screw up a batch of beer;  from poor quality wort ingredients, dormant yeast to gaps in cleaning and sanitizing.  Basically, I’m crossing my fingers that everything worked as it should.  I did taste the beer when measuring the final specific gravity before bottling. The beer tasted smooth with a hint of sweetness. I’m hoping that is a good sign.

Another nugget of knowledge:  The amount of careful work and time required to create home brewed craft beer has made me carefully reconsider whom I will share this gift of hops.  Always remember to drink responsibly and to share beer responsibly.  Essentially, if you annoy me – no beer for you!

Batch #1: Bavarian Weizen

Fermentation started: 7/7/2013

Starting Gravity: 1.050

Final Gravity: 1.012

Bottle Date: 7/20/2013

Open Date: 8/10/2013

ABV: 4.9%

Malts: Alexander Liquid Malt extract, Wheat dry malt extract

Hops: Tettnang hops (bittering), Saaz (flavor)

Servomyces yeast nutrient

Yeast: White Labs ‘Hefeweizen’ yeast

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3 responses to “Home Brew Update

  1. says:

    You want to try an experiment? Rebrew the same recipe, but choose a different yeast. You will be surprised at how much that one small change can affect the flavor.

    The amount of careful work and time required to create home brewed craft beer has made me carefully reconsider whom I will share this gift of hops.

    I’ve found that people who help me brew, bottle and-most importantly-clean up are worthy recipients. YMMV.

    Years ago, I was a member of an online brewing club. We’d formulate a recipe, brew it and then swap beers with each other. We’d gather online to taste and share notes. It’s a little harder to ship beer (after 9/11) these days, but it’s still technically possible through UPS. I think. In any event, it might be something to consider if any of your friends have the same hobby.

    • Tania

      The brew store where I picked up the beer brewing kit offers classes and I fully plan to sign up for one.

      Next Sunday is the grand reveal! Hopefully, I didn’t screw this batch up too bad :)

      • says:

        Brewing classes can be good, but be wary of what I call the pretentious brewers. They turn up their noses at anyone who doesn’t make all grain recipes. All grain recipes give you more control over the process (malt extract syrups oxidize slowly over time and this will affect the final product), but you can make fine, award winning beers using extracts and adjuncts only. You will also find that brewing an all grain batch can be an all day affair, while an extract brewing session will use up only a few hours, including time spent cleaning up. I’ve brewed all grain batches, but I don’t have the time anymore with three small children in the house.

        If you really like craft beer, I highly recommend the Great American Beer Festival, which is held annually in Denver, Colorado. 3000+ beers at last count and you’ll have the opportunity to speak to lots of professional brewers about their craft. About 90% of all pros started out as homebrewers and they really like talking shop.

        The tickets aren’t cheap (around $50/session), but you can get in for free if you volunteer; that’s how I get in. Of course, there are more potential volunteers than slots available, so you either have to have volunteered before or get someone else to refer you. You can also register for next year, which gets your name into the pool.

        In any event, I look forward to hearing about how your beer turns out. And kudos on your choice of a new hobby.

        “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”
        –Dave Barry

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