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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brewing swiftly on

in: La Perouse NSW, Australia
Happy Christmas, Merry New Year and all that. Flippin' life gets in the way of blogging it really does.

I recently came to the realisation that I have been making beer at home on and off for about half my  life, or about the last 16 years, with general success (I've only ever thrown away 2 batches in all that time). I had been making my  beer either from kits or from malt extract and some fiddling around with hops.  Despite what preconceptions might be of homebrew the kits can make damn fine beer if treated well and I was quite happy with this until The Realisation. With The Realisation came the thought "maybe I can do this a bit better and improve things".

I am a tinkerer and have been ever since my first Lego set and, as anyone who knows a tinkerer will tell you, this thought is normally the kiss of death for anything and can have consequences ranging in severity from a an afternoon of deafening  profanities to a trip to Accident and Emergency. With this in mind, I did a fair bit of research and some exploratory work, I talked to other people about it, I did some experiments, bought some equipment and ingredients. There was a whole day of deafening profanities. A few weeks went by as the beer fermented. There was an afternoon of moderate cursing followed by cautious optimism when I bottled the beer. A few weeks went by until I deemed it time to open one.


Halleluliah gawdallbloodymighty, it was good. It was so good that it made me wonder what I'd been doing all these years mucking around with kits and extract. Em and I finished off this summer wheat-beer in record time and I made a proper English Bitter - the kind it can be a little difficult to find in Oz - that was even better than the first batch.On the surface of it this may seem to be good news but it comes with some big drawbacks.

The first is that just before starting my experiment I had, in anticipation of only moderate success, brewed up about 60 liters of beer I knew would be good so that I would have something to drink no matter what. 60 liters, that's more than 100 pints of beer I now know is not as good as good as it could be. I need those bottles empty to put good beer in, but I'm now  not so keen on drinking it all. DAMMIT!!

The second drawback is that I'm now utterly hooked. As anyone who knows a tinkerer will tell you a tinkerer finding a hobby can have consequences ranging in severity from afternoons at country fairs filled with very boring conversations about obscure technical nonsense, through garages full of car parts, all the way to a fully functioning steam engine in the back yard. I am a geek by nature, I will have to know all about brewing, all about its' history and I'll have to get all the kit and get it working to absolute perfection. This is inevitable, it will happen and there is little anyone can do about it.

In the short term this means I need another fridge, not to put finished beer in but to put fermenters in to control the temperature, so I'll need a thermostat too. Then bottling won't be enough on it's own some of those styles are really meant to be kegged, so I'm going to need a kegging setup with a tap font, drip tray and its own cooling system. Having invested in this much kit I'll need to make sure the beer does it justice so I'll have to build a full Heat Exchanging Recirculating Mash system and get a plate chiller. Clearly all this in't going to fit in a 2 bedroom apartment so I either need a lockup somewhere or a new house....

You see my problem.

Thankfully my hobby mostly keeps me out of trouble, produces something tasty, desirable and that quickly disposes of itself. I may have to work on a way of [legally] - making money out of it so that it pays its' own way...

There will be pictures to go with this post as soon as I get them off the camera