Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brewing Beer with Matt

Last Friday I learned to brew beer for the first time with my friend, Matt Shotick.  He is knowledgable and passionate about beer, so it was fun learning how to brew from him.  It is a long process (a lot waiting for water to boil) but the wait is full of incredible smells and the always satisfying feeling of knowing you took the time and effort to create something delicious.  Sure, you could purchase a beer rather than make your own, but drinking one you brewed yourself will always be so much more special.

I am always excited to learn how to make foods and beverages from scratch.  I do not want to be detached from the process of making food.  I'd rather bake a fresh loaf of bread than purchase a loaf full of strange ingredients, baked 3-7 days ago, wrapped in plastic.  Being self-reliant is incredibly empowering and it is always fun to learn how food and beverages are created.

Matt made a Saison beer with lavender and pepper.  

There were 3 different types of hops added to the brew.  They each have different scents and flavors.

He started by boiling water then pouring the boiled water over crushed grain and filtering the grain from the liquid.  The grain is in the orange tub and Shotick is pouring the boiling water over it.  There was a mesh bottom in the tub so the grain didn't go into the pot on the ground.  This was how the malt extract was made.  You can purchase the malt extract and skip this process but it is more expensive.

He then brought the malt extract to a boil for an hour.  You add the types of hops and spices in at different times depending on how much of the flavor you want to have in the beer.  So we started with a specific bag of hops (I can not remember which one).  About 20 minutes later he added another type of hops and the pepper and 5 minutes before the hour of boiling was up he added the last bag of hops and the lavender.  The lavender was added at the end so the beer wouldn't taste much of lavender but the scent of lavender would be there. 

After the brew boiled for an hour we needed to chill it down quickly and add the yeast.  Matt placed the immersion chiller (the copper spiral) into the brew which quickly cooled the brew down. If the temperature was too high it would kill the yeast.  But if we let the brew cool down without the immersion chiller it would take many hours to cool and bacteria would most likely find its way into the brew.  The brew was chilled down in 20 minutes with the immersion chiller.

After the yeast was added we filtered the brew of any chunky remnants.  The brew was then sealed up and left to ferment, I believe for about two weeks.  At some point Matt will add more hops (this is called dry hopping) to the brew and let that sit.  Then the beer will be bottled which I hope to be a part of.

And this is Theo, the scruffy pup of Matt and Kimber.  Theo is amazing and a crucial member of the brewing process.

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