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Adventures in Homebrewing Part 1
I think a lot of craft beer drinkers out there routinely have the thought, "I should be homebrewing." It's something that Heather and I have wanted to do for a long time. It's kind of a scary proposition though. You buy a lot of equipment, put in a lot of effort, wait for quite a while, and if you screw up and the results aren't drinkable, then what?

Several years ago we received one of those Mr. Beer kits everyone has seen at one point or another. We dove into that imagining that it would be a ton easier than actual homebrewing. We were freaked out a bit by all the sterilization that was necessary but in the end our first home brewed beer was complete. We called it West Canal Ginger Cheat. It was the pale ale ingredients that the kit came with and we added some ginger to the mix.

To our surprise, the end result actually tasted kind of like beer! We even allowed some of our friends and family to try it! We weren't, however, able to finish off the full two gallons that the kit made, though we still have a couple bottles left. Should we try them? I bet they are seriously funky.

Fast forward a bit to Christmas 2011... We received a Northern Brewer recipe kit for a Belgian tripel style as a gift. We were so excited! Now this was an ingredients only kit, so we needed to come up with all the equipment necessary. We shopped around a bit at Beers of the World in Rochester but ended up being quite overwhelmed. Would we be buying the correct stuff? Do we have a place in our house that is the proper temperature? The basement isn't very sanitary... can we store it down there?

All of these questions pushed us to inaction and the ingredient kit sat on the shelf waiting for us. Well, this past January I received a pretty great birthday gift from my mom. She hooked me up with a homebrew equipment kit. She mail ordered it, but curiously enough it ended up being one of the ones we looked at at Beers of the World a year prior. Finally, we got that third and final shove and we were ready to make some beer.

While we now had most everything we needed to start brewing, we did grab a 22 quart pot from Wal-Mart and went back to Beers of the World's homebrewing section to pick up some new yeast. We assumed that what came with our ingredient kit could have been dead so we wanted to cover our bases. Thankfully, they carried the exact same brand of yeast that the kit came with so we were ready to go. After much debate, we also grabbed a bottle of organic elderberry concentrate from Wegmans. We thought it could be a unique addition to a Belgian tripel.

It was at this point that we realized the Mr. Beer kit wasn't actually as much of a cheat as we suspected. Our recipe kit was what is known as an extract kit. It came with similar jugs of syrupy sludge as the Mr. Beer kit. Unlike the Mr. Beer kit though, it added some dry grains, hop pellets, and candi sugar to the mix.

With everything in hand, we were ready to dedicate a nice winter Sunday to making some beer. You can view part 2 of our homebrewing series here.
By Mike on March 3, 2013 at 5:43pm EST Topic(s): beer homebrewing

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