Bottling our first homemade Brew

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We are finally bottling our first homemade brew!! And yes I know I failed to keep you updated  (but don’t worry I’ll backtrack with other brews in the future). We last left off with having all the ingredients bought to start our first brew (to see that post click here!).

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Let me walk you through a sum-up of the process so far. About a month ago, Luke got out his big brewing pot, combined the many ingredients, boiling them for several hours on the stove. After letting it cool down in ice in the sink, the brewed concoction, called a wort at this point, was then poured through a funneled filter into a big plastic bucket.

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This bucket of wort sat for more than a week while the yeast turned the wort into beer bubbling as it transformed. After this, the mix was transferred into the glass carboy again using the funneled filter, this process is called racking. It sat once again for a week or so before the bottling process.

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Ok, now that we are caught up, let’s talk about  bottling. We dragged our collected pile of bottles upstairs to be washed.

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To wash and sanitize the bottles, we started an assembly line. Luke poured some of the sanitizing mix into the sink and rinsed off the bottles using a bottle brush, scrubbing out the insides. Then I placed the bottles upside down on the top of the sulphiter and push down on the device which squirts sanitized water up into the bottom of the bottle and back down the sides.

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After four pumps of the sanitation, I  placed the cleaned bottles back in the 6-pack containers upside down to dry.

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Next Luke brought the brew from our spare room in the glass carboy placing it on the kitchen table. He attached a long siphon to the top and sitting on the floor allowed the brew to fill the tube and down into the bottles. I placed the full bottled bottles on the kitchen counter and placed empty ones in front of Luke to fill.

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Once the bottles were full, we added a one carbonation drop to each which dissolves as you plop it in, making a fizzing noise. After this, Luke got out the bottle caps we bought from the brewing store and the bottle capper. I held the bottle while he place the cap  and clamped it on the top of the beer bottles.

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All along the brewing process Luke tasted tested his work feeling a little unhappy with how it was going and thinking it was always missing something. But last night Luke unbottled one of these first brews and after some fridge time and carbonation Luke decided it was not half bad. It is not very strong in aroma or hops plus it is probably only about a 3% alcohol level, unlike most beers which are 5% but for a first attempt-not half bad.

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Our first bottle of homemade brew!!

Luke decided to stick some percolated coffee grounds in a bag into the bottom of the rest of the brew we left in the car boy to add some aroma to the rest of the brew before bottling it.  We will see how that turns out. Considering Luke didn’t use any written recipe I’d say our first brew was a success!

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Any thoughts on what to make next?

Got any ideas on what to name our first brew?

The home-brewing has begun

As I explained last month, one of the first things people think about when they hear I’m allergic to barley is that I cannot drink beer. But my husband Luke has chosen to turn this into a fun challenge. He is finally starting a hobby he has been wanting to do for awhile: home brewing his own beer (as mentioned in wait barley free means not beer right?). As I promised I would keep you posted and I’m excited to say the home-brewing process has begun!

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After reading up on the chemical process and visiting the home-brewing store several times to ask questions, Luke decided he was ready to begin.

So this past weekend I counted up how much of Luke b-day money was left and with that number in mind we went to the home-brewing store. The first step was picking up the one-time purchase supplies which included: glass carboy, primary fermenter, bottling bucket and spigot, no-rinse cleanser, triple scale hydrometer, siphon hose and shut off clamp, liquid crystal thermometer, 20 quart brew pot, drilled carboy bung, carboy brush, lid with grommet, airlock , auto-siphon, bottle filler, twin level capper, bottle brush, brew paddle, lab thermometer, 10 star sanitizer, and 10″test jar.

That is a long list! For all of  this, Luke decided it was cheapest if he bought a kit. And the only reason I know all that was included is because it’s printed on the box.With this kit we can make 5 gallons which amounts to about 53-21 oz. glasses of beer. If this experiment works, we won’t be buying beer for a long time, and have plenty to share 🙂

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Then it was time to pick out which ingredients to include in the beer. Luke knew what he needed: yeast, hops, a grain, and syrup but of those: what flavor? what variety? how much?

Home-brewing has become a big hobby especially among the gluten-free community. So supplies such as sorghum (which replaces the barley as the sugar /syrup component) are not difficult to find. There is a large variety of recipes online and in beer making magazines. The number of which are gluten-free is limited but available. These recipes use replace barley and wheat with corn or rice.

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But the market for barley-free recipes and supplies is even smaller. See what makes our chemical concoction possibilities different is that I can have wheat, rye, or any other grain that is not a malt aka barley. What we have found though is that most wheat beer recipes are actually 50/50 wheat and barley. So Luke doesn’t have a specific recipe to work off of.  As with any food/drink making there is a science to it, but also a lot of guess work.

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So after checking out the options and asking me what I thought we ended up with: a larger yeast, cascade and UK challenger hops, midnight wheat, and sorghum syrup. This is our first try and we have no idea how it will go. With excitement (and a little hesitation) Luke gave me the look of “here we go” and we took everything to the register.

This weekend we will start putting these ingredients to work. I don’t know as much about the process as Luke, but as his designated “beer-making helper” I’m sure I’ll learn. And as before I’ll fill you in on how it goes.

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Any of you trying a new challenging hobby?

Do you like to experiment with new recipes?

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      

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 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)

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Inside the Portland Public House
Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

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On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

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So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

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The taproom
The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour
The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

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We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?
And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.