Home Brewing Adventures: Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about home brewing, but I didn’t give you the whole story.  When I ended that blog, the beer was sitting happy in it’s dark, cool, fermenting place.  Today, I’ll tell you what happens when it’s time to bottle.  One of our favorite things about bottling day is cracking open the lid to the fermenting bucket, inhaling the smell of two weeks worth of pent-up brewed goodness.

There’s not much to the process, it seems like sterilizing the equipment takes more time than anything else, but once that gets out of the way, everything else takes about an hour.  To sterilze the equipment we use an iodine-based solution, diluting it with water in the bucket we use and soak the siphon, hydrometer, and bottle filler in it.  The easiest way to sterilize bottles is in the dishwasher.  Send it through a pots and pans cycle without soap, and set on a hot dry.  Skipping to the good part, here’s what you do.

Siphoning the beer into the bottling barrel is just part of the fun.

Pour 2 cups of water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add 3/4 cups priming sugar, stir until dissolved, turn off heat and let cool. Pour this mixture into your bottling bucket.

Adding this extra sugar wakes up the dormant yeast in the brew, and sealing them together in a bottle produces carbonation.

Siphon beer from it’s fermenting bucket into the bottling bucket.  Attach bottle filler to your siphon.  Fill sterilized bottles and cap.  Leave in a cool dark place for at least two weeks.

Transferring the beer from the original bucket to the bottling bucket helps in clearing out the trub, the dead yeast and loose grains that may have gotten into the fermenting bucket, leaving less silt in the bottom of each bottle.

After two weeks it is ready to drink, though aging it for longer makes a smoother.  You’re more likely to enjoy the last bottles you drink than the first, but that doesn’t make the first bottles bad.

This particular batch filled two cases of bottles, as predicted, and after my husband did the math, it’s expected to be about 7.1% alcohol.  Making our own beer is a lot of time and a fair degree of effort, but so completely worth it.  Not only do we get the flavor we want, and it’s tax free, it’s so cost effective.  Most times it comes out to about a dollar a bottle to brew.

The other thing that comes from brewing that I really love is making bread.  Each brew day I save about a cup or so of spent grains, and with it I make some pretty tasty artisan bread.  When I found this recipe, I was surprised by how little grains actually went into the bread – only half a cup.  In this recipe, a little goes a long way, there isn’t a lack of flavor to the bread, though.

Fresh out of the oven – perfect!

Brew Grain Bread

  • 3½ Cup flour
  • ½Cup spent grain
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Bread yeast
  • 1¼ Cup lukewarm water

Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Make a well, then pour in the water, mix well. Let rise 2-3 hours, until the dough has leveled on top.

Form dough into a loaf and score top place on a baking sheet.  Let loaf rise while the oven preheats to 425 degrees.  Pour 1 C on a separate baking sheet and place on the rack at the lowest setting.  Bake the dough on the middle setting rack for 30-45 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped.  The water in the baking sheet below your baking bread will steam while your bread bakes, creating that wonderful thick while keeping the inside of the bread soft and tender.

 Tip of the week:  When slicing fresh bread, flip the loaf over and slice from the soft side.  It keeps the bread from crushing under your knife.