Wednesday, October 27, 2010

First Batch Brewing

So, I bought the kit on Saturday...and didn't touch it. We had other plans for the night, and I didn't know how long it was going to take so I agreed to leave the brewing until Sunday.
I can't believe I slept, I was so dang excited.

SUNDAY! What I like to refer to as BREW DAY!

So, Sunday afternoon gets here and I'm all ready to brew... I think. I'm like a kid at Christmas, I can't concentrate and yet can't wait to start.

I read the instructions. Couldn't concentrate on the instructions with the TV on (nothing new for me), so I read the instructions in the bedroom. With the instructions read, I made my way to the kitchen and... read the instructions again. I thought I knew what to do, but with my excitement I was ready to start step three before step one! My friend enters the kitchen on cue and takes the instructions from me and says he will read them to me one at a time so I can concentrate on each step as it came up.... You have NO idea how important and helpful this was.

Step One... Assembly... This is simply taking the spigot for the Mr Beer kit and placing the gasket on it, then inserting into the whole at the bottom of the front of the keg looking fermenter, and then screwing the nut on from the inside.

Step two... Sanitize... Mr Beer includes something called One Step, which is a dry crystal powder substance that dissolves in water. The idea is to put your utensils (Spoon, Can opener, Scissors) into the fermenter, pour the One Step into the fermenter and add water, then close the lid. Once the lid is closed, gently swish the solution around in the fermenter and roll the fermenter so that the sanitizing solution comes in contact with all parts of the fermenter as well as anything else that will come in contact with your beer ingredients.
After sloshing the solution around to my own satisfaction, I let it sit for ten minutes. Yes, I set a timer. I'm a little OCD about instructions, so when the instructions said to let the solution sit for ten minutes, I set the timer and waited EXACTLY ten minutes.
After the timer had gone off, I then emptied the solution, through the spigot, into the pot I was going to be mixing my ingredients in, as well as a small amount of solution on to a dinner plate so I would have a sanitized surface for my utensils to sit on. Again, the instructions said to let this sit in the pot for ten minutes, and I set the timer and waited...... the wait was almost painful, I just wanted to brew! But, I knew if the instructions said this was an important step (and from what I've read, it's the MOST important step), then it was worth the wait.
Ten minutes passed... I emptied the pot.

Step three...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Good day eh

Okay so, a little about why I'm blogging....

Up until labour day weekend 2010 I was a laid off warehouse worker, slowly losing my mind to boredom and lack of activity, the only things keeping me sane were my wife, my part time job at a certain domed stadium in Toronto and a day of work a week at the same place I was 'laid off' from. I wasn't even turning the ps3 on anymore because it wasn't entertaining me, so you know it was getting bad.

Then, the weekend before the labour day weekend, I went to a Home Outfitters with my wife to look for something she wanted (probably something scented) and spotted something called Mr Beer.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I picked up the box, turned it around, read every word on every side of the box... I could make my own beer in my own house!!! I couldn't believe it. Why was this the first I had heard of this? How long had this been available without my knowledge? How was I going to convince my wife I needed to do this?

For those of you who don't know me.... I'm not a lush or a guy that enjoys drinking just to get hammered. As a matter of fact I've never enjoyed any of the mass produced beer that's available in my Beer store or LCBO. I've even been called a 'beer snob' because I've refused beer based on the fact it was 'buck a beer' beer or some other mass produced garbage.

I enjoy a GOOD beer. It has to have a good aroma, it has to have taste, it has to be something that can actually improve as it gets a little warmer. I also choose my beer based on the weather and/or season. There is such a thing as a summer beer, a fall beer, a winter beer, and a spring beer. As much as others may scoff at my seasonal beer thinking, I don't care, like I said... I enjoy beer, I don't drink for the sake of drinking or to get drunk. If I did that I'd drink the tasteless, pasteurized, mass produced crap that everyone else drinks.

So... I left Home Outfitters without a home brew kit that weekend, even after trying to convince my wife that WE should buy it, because it was beer, and it was almost half price (the kit was in the clearance section).

The thought of it possessed my thoughts for the next week. I went to the Mr Beer website. I researched this whole hobby of home brewing until my brain was getting tired from information overload. I even contacted Mr Beer to ask if they shipped to Canada since there are over a hundred recipes that can be tried and tested and tweaked, but you need the ingredients from Mr Beer. Turns out they don't ship to Canada but they did direct me towards and for my Mr Beer restocking.

Then labour day weekend arrived.

My best friend was visiting for the weekend, my wife had picked up her new-to-her car on the friday, and it was looking like it was just going to be an enjoyable weekend of hanging out and enjoying each others company. I had even put the thought of home brewing out of my head... almost.

Then, on the Sunday, my wife suggested we hit the mall (I forget why), and not having any plans and being up for anything the three of us hopped in the car and drove on over. Upon arrival we passed the Home Outfitters, and my eyes went wide as my brain brought forth all the info I had researched about home brewing and the memory of the box in my hands.

 I insisted we hit the store.

I tried to describe to my friend this incredible invention they had in the store that let you brew your own beer at home. By the way my friend is as much of a 'beer snob' as I am.

My wife only laughed and agreed on going to the store.

I knew where it was, or I thought I did. Turns out they had moved it to a different section of the store, and it took me a good twenty minutes of searching before I located it. I picked it up, trying to show it to my wife and my best friend, trying to convey just how amazing this idea of home brewing was.... having known me for quite some time they were both amused by my almost child like enthusiasm and nodded their heads like people do when they're trying not to laugh while trying to be interested.

The two of them both suggested I purchase the kit. If I was that excited about something then I should try it. My problem was cash, like I said at this point I was laid off for 8 months and had all of 30 bucks in my pocket.... the kit was 29.99, plus tax. On top of that I noticed a 'refill pack' beside the brewing kit, it contained supplies to make ANOTHER three batches of beer! So with the kit, which had all the tools and ingredients for one batch, plus the refill which would make 3 more batches, there was the potential to make 4 batches of home brew! Each batch made 2 gallons of beer! *In my research I found out 2 gallons is the equivalent of about 20 regular sized beer bottles.* So there was the potential for 80 beer! All made by my hands, in my house! And the refill was 19.99, so for 50 bucks, plus tax, you could have more than three 2-4's of beer, which would run you around 120 dollars at the beer store...minimum.

My wife had had enough.... she insisted on my purchasing both the kit and the refills, and handed me the extra cash I needed. Apparently she figured having a hobby would keep me from losing my mind all together.

So.... there I was... brand spanking new Mr Beer kit, and all the enthusiasm of Dr Frankenstein. I could barely contain myself! This was like being a kid at Christmas, only better! This was BEER!

Next.... my first brewing experience....