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?

Vacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

As I said on my Wednesday post (see Vacation Highlights Part 1) Monday, Thursday, and Friday of last week’s vacation we took time to explore Oregon on our own.

Outdoor Day

Monday May 6th we drove to the science museum in Portland only to find an empty  parking lot and a sign reading: “Museum closed on Mondays”. So recalculating our day, we took a scenic drive to Multnomah falls.  On the drive I had flash backs to my last visit: on my way to meet Luke’s parents for the first time. Fortunately this time absent from all nervousness we decided to hike to the top. A little uncertain how far we would go (considering neither of us were dressed for a hike) we made it to the top along with the early summer tourists. Here’s some proof:

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After our hike we drove into Hood River arriving just in time for the last daily tour for the Full Sail Brewery .

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Receiving free beer glasses at the end of our tour we headed to the taproom where Luke enjoyed some beer samples (myself a rootbeer) as we watched a few weekday windsurfers on the river.

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Then I drove us to get something we dearly miss living on the East Coast, my home state comfort food: authentic Mexican. And boy were we happy to get some great grub!

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Walking off our delicious dinner, we stopped in a hobby store and picked up a new board game (which I wondered how we were going to get it into our carry-on baggage). We finally ended the day with a long scenic drive back to Luke’s parent’s home.

Portland Day

Thursday May 9th double checking the museum’s hours, we headed to the Portland Science Museum OMSI. After getting tickets we bought some coffee,  tried out a few brain teasers (which I realized I was not caffeinated enough to solve), then headed to the OMNIMAX theatre. Now I have been to IMAX theaters before but none like this. Your theatre chair naturally swings back so you can comfortably stare at a screen which wraps around the dome ceiling!!  We watched a film called Deep Sea narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet with music by Danny Elfman (this was no boring Jr. high science video).

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Afterwards we played connect four with robotic arms ( I won!) and other fun hands-on mechanics until it was time for our submarine tour. There were only four of us on the tour of this sub used to film scenes from Hunt for Red October. Luke’s grandfather served on sub for more than 14 years-this was my first glimpse of what those years might have been like.

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We then explored the permanent interactive exhibits-this place was so hands on I don’t know how anyone could consider it boring! When the closing announcement came we hungrily found our way to the car.

Fortunately we knew just what we wanted for dinner: Deschutes Brewery’s Public House. They have a great gluten-friendly menu and micro-brewed gluten-free beer. I went with what I knew to be good: their gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich. Made with four types of cheese they  lather the bread in a garlic parmesan butter before grilling it (talk about melt in your mouth amazing!)

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After our delicious meal, we walked the warm streets of Portland to Mcmenamin’s Mission Theatre. This movie theatre is not your standard bubble gum stained multi-move multi screened venue.  We walked in and up a few carpeted stairs into the one screened pub and theatre house. We sat in balcony on cushioned chairs ready to watch Silver Lining Playbook. As we laughed along the bar tender brought up ordered burgers and drinks for the movie watchers. Greatly satisfied with our choice of entertainment we walked back to our car watching restaurants close and uptown bars fill with couples and friends for late night drinks.

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Friday Friend Day

Friday morning May 10th we visited with Luke’s grandmother, catching up on life, sharing our vacation, and listening to the retelling of old stories. After our visit we got some Dutch Bros. Kickers and drove to Salem to meet up with Tom and Fawnia.

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Tom’s (Luke’s best friend since High School and the best man in our wedding) hobby is beer making. So the boys took over the kitchen so Luke could learn from his best friend what he was getting himself into with this new hobby.

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Meanwhile Fawnia and I caught up and buy groceries for our BBQ dinner. Sitting outdoors enjoying the summer sun, we had BBQed pork ribs and homemade pasta salad along with sampleings of Tom’s hard cider and home-brewed beers. Once the last morsels of the sweet tangy ribs were devoured we started a fire and sat down to a game of Ticket to Ride.

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As the sun set the board got hard to read by only fire light so we moved on to smore’s making. Then Tom brought out another of his creations: homemade wine made with tons and tons of fresh blueberries. After our sugar fix of chocolate, gooey marshmallows, and blueberry wine was over it was time to clean things up and say goodnight.

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Next day we played a strategic game to pack up original belongings as well as new clothes, games, and books into carry on luggage. We drove to Luke’s grandmother’s house to return the truck she had graciously let us borrow for the week and to have a last homemade dinner with family before being driven to the airport.

As you can see, we had a full and adventurous vacation. We loved every moment with our family and friends in the northwest. Although we are back to our routine  we are looking forward to a wonderful summer full of new changes, challenges, and even more celebrations.

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?