My first guest blog post!

Wow! My first guest blog post got published today for E.C. Kraus’ blog. E.C. Kraus is a home wine and beer making supply company who you can purchase equipment and supplies online through.

My post entitled, How to Brew a Hefeweizen: Tips from a Beginning Homebrewer, goes over my steps and best tips for brewing a Hefeweizen from a malt extract kit without destroying your kitchen.

Click here to check out the article!!

Please tweet, email, pin or like the article on their site. I’m hoping to do more guest blog posts for them and having the extra social media stats for my articles will help me out greatly!

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TWIB – Homebrews, Hefeweizens and Time Travel

This Week in Beer (TWIB) is a feature where I’ll highlight some craft beers I had during this past week mixed with some related (and unrelated) thoughts. Yes, it’s a play on the name of the show This Week in Baseball which I grew up on and loved.

This week in beer was a homebrew and entertainment filled one. Had a friend’s homebrew, tried my newest homebrew for the first time and went to the ballpark.

Boeser Brau’s American Pilsner Homebrew

Even though I’m a homebrewer (yes, a new homebrewer but regardless) I haven’t had many other people’s homebrews outside of my own. He put mine to shame! I absolutely loved everything about this beer. From the golden, yellow color to the crisp Pilsner taste, keep up the great work, Scott!

21st Amendment Bitter American

There’s a new movie theater by me called the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema where they serve you dinner, beer, popcorn, etc. at your seat (pretty cool, right?). So my wife and I went to check it out on Friday and saw Gatsby. We got their carnivore pizza which I’ll rate a 9 out of 10, their chips with queso dip which I’ll give a 6 out of 10 and their popcorn — usual awesome theater popcorn. I also ordered a 21st Amendment Bitter American. I’ve had this before and it’s one of my go-to beers. It’s light, flavorful, low in alcohol at 4.4% and has some badass artwork like all the 21st Amendment cans. The theater itself serves many local beers — Starr Hill, Lost Rhino, Williamsburg Alewerks, DC Brau and more. It also has a bar inside called Glass Half Full Taproom. We poked out heads in and it looks cozy. Full bar with beer reasonably priced.

One more thing! This is in the new One Loudoun development and it looks like a Bar Louie going in soon. I’ve been to the one downtown and I can’t wait for one to be here.

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Homebrewed a winner

Aside

Stout on desk

My first homebrew – a success

Wow! Can’t believe it. I tried my homebrew last night and, well, it wasn’t a complete train-wreck like I thought it would be. I actually really, truly enjoyed the beer. Time to share it with my family and friends and get their opinions. More to come on this later this week as well as an announcement for April!

Exploding growlers, fried circuits, and other homebrewing hilarities

Let’s face it, as guys the kitchen isn’t our usual domain. So while homebrewing, especially for us newbies, we have to be extra careful and mindful of boilovers and whatnot so we don’t ruin the kitchen or worse. Regardless of how much time we take something’s going to go wrong.

During my first homebrew I didn’t know to heat up the malt extract. What happened next was 15 minutes of me shaking this bottle of molasses-looking syrup while standing on a stool (since I’m maybe 5’3″) over this pot of near boiling wort. Lots of sweat and four-letter words were flowing by the end of this. Lesson learned.

I’m hoping mine and some other people’s mistakes will help you to prevent making them yourself. I pestered probably half of the folks I follow on @shortonbeer and got some great stories out of them. Here’s the best of the best. Check out these gentlemen’s blogs and follow them on Twitter if you aren’t already. Feel free to leave your funny homebrewing stories below as well!

David Ackley, LocalBeerBlog.com

A few summers ago, still fairly early in my homebrewing days, I decided to use a growler to bottle my homebrew. For those non-homebrewers out there, when you bottle homebrew, you mix in a small amount of sugar to “prime” your beer. This gives the yeast just a little more food so that they’ll produce a little more CO2 to carbonate your brew. But this also creates a little CO2 pressure inside the bottle. As it turns out, most half-gallon growlers aren’t made to withstand that kind of pressure. So I came home a several days later to find pieces of a growlers and a few pints of beer on the floor of the closet.

I wish I could say lesson learned, but I tried it again a few months later. It was fine until after a family cookout, when I left the growler in a cooler that ran out of ice. As it got warmer, those dormant yeast woke up, and BOOM! Bye-bye beer. Long story short — don’t bottle in growlers!

Billy Broas, BillyBrew.com

I was brewing an Amber ale and the brew day was going smoothly up until I was cooling the wort. I was using an immersion chiller with a garden hose running to it. While walking past my brew stand I tripped on the hose and cup of coffee that was in my hand went flying into the kettle. I fished out the cup but the brew was now infused with 12 oz of Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast blend. It turned into a great Amber with just a bit of coffee flavor, which I’m not sure I actually tasted or merely imagined.

Mike Reinitz, Reinitzgebot.com

The one thing that comes to mind is when I was building my kegerator.  I used a brand new upright freezer that I got for free.  The door has this small digital display unit in the upper left hand corner where you can adjust the coldness (1 to 7).  I was confident that there were not any freezer coils in the door (just insulation), so I started drilling holes for the shanks.  When I pulled the drill bit out after drilling the last hole, I realized I had drilled dead on through a set of wires that went through the door to the digital display.  Then, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to plug the freezer in to make sure it still worked.  As soon as I plugged it in, there were sparks where the broken wires were, so I quickly unplugged it again.  After much cursing (I just ruined a brand new freezer!), I took a deep breath, poured myself a beer, and went back to work.  I ended up dismantling the door completely, removing the insulation, and splicing the wires I had tore apart.  After reassembling the door, I plugged the freezer back in.  There were no sparks this time, but the freezer wouldn’t turn on.  Apparently the sparks last time had fried the circuit board in the display unit, rendering the freezer useless (it completes the circuit).  Luckily, I was able to order a new board/display unit module from the manufacturer–after waiting a few days for it to arrive, I installed it.  Lo and behold, my kegerator was alive!  It’s been running strong for 3 years now.  It was a frustrating day for sure, but I always get a sense of satisfaction when I draw a pint knowing what I went through to have cold beer on tap!

Peter Estaniel, BetterBeerBlog.com

The very first homebrew I attempted I ended up dumping. Turns out I read the thermometer incorrectly that day and pitched my yeast at 170°F instead of 70°F. I wondered why my wort chilled so quickly when everything I had been reading up until that point said it would take a while.

Needless to day, I never made that mistake again. Other mistakes? Plenty. Just not that one.

Jon Jefferson, 10thDayBrewing.blogspot.com

I had one batch that during the mash my manifold came apart.  While sparging the flow completely stopped.  I ended up having to lauter that entire batch through a strainer.

The first time I used the lautering set up I have now, the hose popped off my holding cooler and I ended up with hot water flooding in my kitchen.  Luckily only about a half gallon.

It seems a good amount of my surprises happen when I am lautering.

There was another time I was lautering and the hose jumped out of my kettle.  Ended up with about a half gallon of wort all over my garage floor.

It’s Bottling Time

It’s been about 16 days since homebrewing my first batch of beer and it’s time to once again play of the role of amateur, unprepared homebrewer. It’s BOTTLING TIME.

Simple enough, right? Wash the bottles, move the beer from fermenter to bottling bucket then bottle. Yeah, sure. I got this…

I threw in the kit’s DVD (which I already despised… bottling  didn’t help me like this DVD any extra) and watched the 5 minute section on bottling.

Sanitize and Priming Sugar

Bottles in dishwaster

Washing bottles – no detergent!

First step – sanitize. I think I’m getting this step down. I ran the bottles through the dishwater (no detergent) with the hot dry setting. Once this was done I used my sanitizer on all the equipment — bottling bucket, tubes, spigot, siphon, caps and hydrometer.

Sanitizing equipment

Sanitized bottling equipment

From here, as requested by my wife, I moved from the kitchen to the garage. Glad I did — more on this later. While this was going on I boiled three cups of water and diluted the priming sugar.

It’s been over two weeks since brewing the beer and I haven’t taken a peak since I put the lid on the fermenter. Very excited I opened it up and got a big whiff of hoppiness.

Hydrometer Reading

Next was to take the hydrometer reading to get the alcohol percentage. Being flustered while brewing the first batch I elected to not get the original gravity reading (I regret this but it’s not the end of the world). Therefore I won’t truly know the approximate ABV. I put the sample in the test tube and spun and dropped the hydrometer in. After it settled I got a reading of 1.02 for my final gravity. Yay, I did something right! Next I added the diluted priming sugar to the bottling bucket.

Transfer from Fermenter to Bottling Bucket

Now to transfer the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. Cool, where’s my thief? The guy in the video had a thief. The video claims to tell you everything you need to brew your first batch of beer and the kit claims to give you everything you need. Well if having a thief isn’t necessary, WHY USE ONE TO SHOW ME HOW TO SIPHON THE BEER?? Continue reading