THE NEW KID :: Adventures in Disaster – or – My First Home Brew

by admin on April 2, 2012

By Trevor White

Preferred Listening: Clutch — From Beale Street to Oblivion


I tried my hand at home brewing about 2 months ago and, as it turned out, my hand was doing something else at the time. I had purchased the kit needed to make a Belgian Dubble from the Grape and Grainary in Akron OH with the full intention of brewing the shit out of that beer. I actually said that as I left the store. So, after nearly 5 hours of uphill fighting and 2 months of waiting, I think I have achieved a deeper understanding of the British High Command in regard to Operation Market Garden during WWII. To paraphrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Suffice to say, I failed…hard. However, I’m not going to let this minor setback keep me from checking off one of the things on my bucket list.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, “But Trevor, you’ve already wasted 5 gallons of perfectly good water and several pounds of the ingredients needed to brew beer. Aren’t you too ashamed of your previous wasteful endeavor to try again?” Well, that’s just mean. I mean, why would you even say something like that? Yeah, I know it all ended up going to waste but not everybody can be successful the first time round. If Edison had stopped the first time he failed to make the light bulb we’d all be sitting in the dark right now. However, I know where I made my mistakes the last time and I’m confident, call it 60%, that this time nobody is going to get hurt…severely.

After my initial foray into home brewing I’ve learned several valuable lessons:

Always have the proper tools.

1) Instructions are not meant as suggestions—follow those sum bitches to the letter.

2) Spend some serious time before you even begin prepping to make sure you have the necessary space for both the actual brewing and the subsequent storage of your beer. This should be self-explanatory.

3) Spend a couple days measuring the temperature in both of the places you plan on brewing and storing your beer. Take several readings a day in several places. This is to make sure you can control the temperature to within a couple degrees throughout the brewing and fermentation process.

4) Do a couple of dry runs. This will help you find the best places to set all of your ingredients and your tools. I can tell you there’s nothing worse than realizing that one of the things you need has been either misplaced or you never had it to begin with.

5) Start with an easy beer, like an IPA. The great thing about an IPA is that even if you screw up a little bit, the IPA’s natural bitterness will hide most small flaws.

That should cover the basics. Remember, just because brewing beer has been condensed into a science doesn’t mean that it still isn’t very much an art. And like any other art form, practice makes perfect. So, like voting, brew early and brew often.

So, it turns out I lied.

Apparently my Belgian Dubble didn’t turn out so bad. It’s not the greatest beer I’ve ever tasted but it’s certainly drinkable. Does this new revelation make any of the suggestions I’ve listed above any less meaningful? Absolutely not! In fact, I think they’re even more important than they were before, ESPECIALLY when a person can brew a batch of beer  that he or she, personally, thinks falls short of the mark, yet other people enjoy it. Also, don’t expect to taste the greatest beer ever devised by man on your first attempt. That was my mistake. I had such high expectations that no matter what the end result was, I was going to be disappointed.

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