Homebrewing is not for the faint of heart. I present to you a tragic love story of a girl, her beer and loss. You've been warned.
My husband, the brains behind the brew, has been working and scheming on a milk stout recipe for weeks. We grew grain in our back yard last summer, harvested it and prepped it for brewing. This was going to be one special beer — I mean, home grown grain? Who even does that?
Finally all of the calculations were checked and double-checked. We were ready to brew.
Wednesday, January 18
Inventory of ingredients complete, home-grown grain malted, roasted, and prepped. Oats smoked, purchased grain carefully measured and bagged. Gallons of purified water purchased. Adjuncts combined. Smelled like an oatmeal cookie. I almost ate it right out of the bag.
Equipment assembled, checked for faults. The garage is now a brewery. Don't worry, I threatened the children with a bonfire made of their toys if they touched anything. All is well.
Thursday, January 19
Yeast is multiplying. Going to bed early, tomorrow’s gonna be a late night!
Friday, January 20: BREW DAY
4:00pm- Arrive home, clean and sanitize kettle, tubes, tools, fermenter, entire kitchen, dog and children. This is gonna be so fun — I love brewing! HANG ON. How did I get stuck being dish wench?
5:00pm- Start warming mash water, hit 168 degrees. Mix grain with water to reach a perfect 153 degree mash temperature. Let sit for 1 hour. So far so good. Kids are occupied, friends have arrived to witness the magic of brewing. We are ROCKSTARS.
5:15pm- Realize we forgot to buy ice! Run to store for ice. Dammit.
6:00pm- Lautering. Now we have wort and spent grain. I love this part — isn’t the grain pretty?
6:15pm- Sparging. Yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the good stuff.
6:45pm- Light the burner. Come on… BOIL!
7:00pm- Start boil timer. Mmmmm. That smells amazing. Come smell this. No, not that -- the beer, dummy.
7:15pm- First hop addition. Beautiful hops.
7:45pm- 2nd hop addition. Yep, little more.
8:00pm- Adjunct additions. OMG, we are geniuses! This is going to be the most amazing beer on planet Earth.
8:15pm- Flame out. WTH?!?! The hydrometer’s broken. Ok, we’ll use the refractometer. Hey Google, how do you calibrate a refractometer? Distilled water? Nope, don’t have any. Hey Google, how do I make distilled water? Ok, we’re good now! Hey, taste this wort! Sweet nectar of the gods! No really, it's INCREDIBLE.
8:20pm- Begin chilling process. So glad we got the ice! We've really got it together this time.
8:45pm- Walk away from pot to sanitize carboy and prep fermentation space. Wait 'til my beer nerd friends taste this. We should really enter that home-brew contest with this one.
8:50pm- Disaster. Vinyl tubing popped off of chiller, filled 11 gallon boil kettle with 5 gallons of hose water. Nectar of the gods is ruined. It was only five minutes... I... it....
8:46pm- Wailing and gnashing of teeth. WHY GOD WHY?!?
9:05pm- Dump ruined beer, clean up while cursing self under breath.
9:08pm- Crack open a Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. Yep, 18% ought to take the edge off. *weeps silently*
10:00pm- Pass out drunk.