Brew Day!

My husband has made beer for several years now.  I had always been content to watch from the living room while Rich and his brew friends came over and did various mad scientist experiments with grain, water, yeast and hops.  Sure, it made a mess of the kitchen, but anyone who has seen me cook an elaborate meal understands that it’s nothing our “mess hall” is not accustomed to.  Besides, I was always quite appreciative of the results.

A month or so ago, a little thought crept up into my brain.  Why shouldn’t I brew beer?  I like drinking it.  I enjoy cooking.  Am I, the feminist, unconsciously keeping myself from a very enjoyable experience because I think brewing is for boys?

I think back on the last time I entered into a new hobby because of feminism.  When Rich was still the new boyfriend and we were in college, I had decided it would be a great idea for me to go deer hunting with him, solely because “girls can kill stuff too”.  It wasn’t at all that I wanted to shoot a deer.  In fact, I’m sure I would have cried buckets if a bullet from my gun would have made it into any animal.   Luckily, my buying a deer tag and donning the orange vest only resulted in me falling asleep on my eventual-hubby’s arm and creating quite an impressive puddle of drool on it.  “What’s that wet stuff?”  he said when he woke up to my careful wiping of the offending mess.  Dispite all of this (and so, so much more) he still decided he wanted to marry me.  To this day I really don’t understand why, but I am grateful.

Beer brewing, it turns out, is not about trying to prove my worth as a member of the female sex.  It actually was a lot of fun.  Yes, I did choose to start from a packaged malt extract, which is sort of the equivalent of making a cake from the box.  But you have to start somewhere.  Besides, my homemade cakes turn out hard as a rock every time.  And no one wants to drink rock hard beer.

So here’s a photo essay of my first beer attempt.  I’ve filled in a few photos from places elsewhere in the web when things got too crazy to take pics ourselves.  Ben, one of Rich’s brew friends, came over to make a mead, and Rich made an all-grain, extra-hoppy IPA (Imperial Pale Ale).  I brewed a brown ale – in which I’ll finish with a bit of hazelnut and vanilla extract in a couple of weeks to mimic this delightful quaff.  And I did it all without drooling a bit.


Step one: to the local homebrew store!

Connor and Siena grind Rich’s grains at the store, while Ben helps.  Most families take their kids to the farm to churn butter.  We brew.

More grinding.

Now, back home.  First, let’s make a brew tea!  (Steeping the grain)

Let’s add the malt extract.  (“cake batter”.)


Connor is set up with his own brewing stuff, while Siena takes her nap.

Connor the Mad Scientist.

Adding the finishing hops.

Chilling the wort.  (I have no idea who this person is – I’ve shamefully stolen the photo from someone else.)  The cold water that passes through the copper tubing cools the boiling liquid at an amazing speed.

Next we strain the wort into the carboy to get rid of any chunks of hops, children’s toys, or whatever else has found its way into the beer.  (Another stolen pic.)

Finally we get to taste the beer.  It doesn’t have alcohol yet but it still tastes quite good – though pretty sweet.

Let’s pitch the yeast.  This, again, is not my home.  (Our kitchen tile is much worse.)

Lastly, the beer ferments.  (Another stolen pic – our yeasties do their thing in the bottom of the pantry.)

Then we wait a couple of weeks until the yeast eats all the sugar, and we get to drink their excrement!  Delicious.


4 Responses to “Brew Day!”

  1. 1 Rachel September 19, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Hi Kristina! It’s fun to see I have a “name buddy” out there. And even though you’ve never officially made the move, you’re already further along than I am by attempting to drive in this insanity!

    It will be interesting to have a child out here. I’ve already noticed a bunch of differences. Some are good, some I’m not so sure of! But we’ll see.

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I’ll be keeping an eye on yours as well!


  2. 3 whit September 19, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    I’ve often wondered why I’ve never brewed my own beer. I love the stuff. I guess I don’t have the patience.

  3. 4 Dan Leone September 20, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    My dad and I have been making wine together since I was a child. I can honestly say those are some of my best memories in my life. I am happy to see you guys turning this into a family and friends event.

    Have fun, Kristina!


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