Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BEER! Part 0 - The Preamble.

I've been considering this post for a long time. Beer is a fundamental component of my existence: I love the stuff! As you may have guessed by now, I also like cooking, eating, being merry, and all that. So, when I discovered I could make beer, and that it was legal to boot, I was in heaven! But my waffling began (Belgians make GREAT beer and waffles, by the way -- remember this now) when I figured that there must be a million or so YouTube beer brewing videos and countless other tweets, bleats, and squeaks on the topic. However, the other day I got a couple of Facebook messages from old friends with questions about beer etc. that told me: "Joe! Yes, you! People need your help! They want to brew, but haven't found enough info and cool insights elsewhere! Get thee unto thine blog and 'splain them what to do!" I've learned that you can't ignore suggestions like that, so here we are.

My first foray into brewing happened at York University. My buddy Matt and I saw the obvious financial benefits of homebrewing and embarked on our money saving and brain cell wasting crusade (the problem was we never had enough empties at bottling time, so had to down them all before the next batch -- fun for a while, but as always, there was a price to be paid [this is EXTRA interesting because Price is Matt's last name! -- but please don't put two and two together and steal his identity or anything.]).

ANYWAY! Before you embark on this project you need to meet Charlie Papazian. He's the beer guru/god who got the whole movement going back in the 70s or 80s or some such era. His book The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing has been my bible since back in the days of Matt (i.e. 1995 or so). Get a copy (or one of the infintie reprints) now.

Papazian outlines the process (which I will detail here), some history, and most importantly has all the recipes you'll ever need (unless you go uber-nerd and decide to devote your life to brewing, which is great mind you, but there's other stuff too, so don't get too carried away.... Just sayin'.)

I had intended this post to be a trilogy describing the three main processes: the wort, secondary fermentation, and bottling. This post started as the The Wort post, but it quickly became clear that you'd be way too bored by now if you actually wanted to get going: thus we now have a 4 volume trilogy beginning with The Preamble.

As luck (dumb luck, by the way and just so you know) would have it, I have enough batches of beer on the go to pull-off this photoshoot/blog post in one weekend (The Powers that Be! willing, of course). So we'll go through the basic recipe (The Wort), the mingling of flavours (Secondary "fermentation"), and the last stage (Bottling). Following this is "The Long Wait" and I am still of two or three minds on what to say about that. We may end up with a five-part trilogy in the end (The Powers that Be! willing, of course [getting tired of that yet? Just you wait! You have NO idea how annoying I can be!]).

In the meantime, wishing you all all the best, and depending how my Saturday goes we'll see what we've got by then. Wish me luck! I'll be wishing you luck too!

Postscript: am I qualified to do this? Well, first I love beer. Second, I've brewed lots and am still alive and still like it (knock on wood). And third, but not least, according to my very dear grandmother there are Scottish brewers in my family tree. There may also be Vikings (explaining my bon vivant leanings and why I had such a grand time in Copenhagen and Stockholm -- but that's another story...). And, I have since learned there is a Russian in there too -- and they know a thing or too about brewing, believe me. So, to answer my own question, you better believe it Sweetie Pie! :D

1 comment:

  1. I'm finally getting a chance to read this after being on vacation. Loving it.