Monday, December 22, 2008

Homebrew... Minnesota Style

So, last summer for my birthday Nathan got me a propane burner and a wort chiller. I was in heaven... what would normally take me 3 hours at least (due to a very inefficient electric stove) indoors was easily cut down to 2 or less. I would sit in my lawn chair, homebrew in hand, just listening to the birds and soaking up a little sun while I watched my wort bubble away. Fall came, and I even did a batch on a crisp November afternoon. Fingers got a little chilly, but it was fun to watch the leaves fall and enjoy the last gasp of autumn. Fast forward to late December. Temps in the minus teens (and that's WITHOUT wind chill), air so cold that it sucks the air right from your lungs. Saturday night at a neighborhood holiday party I realize that if I'm going to have beer ready for my homebrew club's March competition, I'd better get my act together and get something thrown together fast. The next few weekend were totally out due to Christmas plans, so I in my barley-induced mania decided that Sunday was going to be it. I had a Patersbier and English Pale Ale planned out and damn it... they were going to get brewed. My neighbor Bryan has wanted to find out what this brewing thing was all about for some time now, and also happened to have an extra burner and pot so we comitted to a 1 pm brew date. A few things I learned yesterday:

1. What seems like a good idea when one is tipsy may NOT be such a good idea the next day. Yes, I'm surprised too that it took me this long to learn that lesson.

2. If you're going to brew after a major snowfall, clear the snow before setting out your brewing supplies. Needle in a haystack, hydrometer in a snowbank... it's all the same thing.

3. I need new brewing boots.

4. Snow is not nearly as good a cooling mechanism as one might think. I forgot that it's mostly made of air and does a better job of insulating the hot wort than of chilling it.

5. Subzero temps aparently aren't very good for thermometers. I really should start buying those suckers by the dozen. *sigh*

All kidding aside, it was a fun brew session and it was also great to "pay it forward" and teach someone new to brew. I think he's a convert.

I'll keep you posted on the brews; have never done either type of beer so I'm excited to see the results. I'm particularly excited to see how the Patersbier turns out. It's a simple concoction of pilsen malt, hops, a little carapils grain, and some trappist yeast but it's supposed to come out with a really delicate and complex flavor profile. We'll see... both batches are bubbling away under their towels in the guest room. Stay tuned, in 6 weeks or so I'll have a review or two.


LisaZ said...

What a great story! I hope those beers turn out extra good, after all that sacrificing for them.

Mike said...

For some reason, I don't feel as bad complaining about brewing in +26 degree weather!