New Brewing Prep
I intend to post weekly, and this has been revised at least five times. I hope it is still a coherent post.
I have been figuring out what I need and what I want to do relative to actually brewing beer, and with the help of various posts on various forums, I think I figured out that I am going to start with a starter set that includes a fermenting bucket, bottling bucket, glass carboy, and I think all the tools to make things work. I had settled on it a few days before Labor Day and while browsing the Reddit homebrewing forum late on Monday night I saw a post that indicated most things at that particular webstore were 10% off, so I ‘pulled the trigger’. Happy birthday to me a few weeks early :-). For whatever reason, the “in stock” item didn’t ship until 9/4 late in the evening. It took so long for them to ship the in-stock item that I thought maybe they know that my birthday is around two weeks away and they’re shooting for that to be delivery day. Truthfully, for a first experience it isn’t good (which is why I’m going into great depth to NOT give away who they are, although if they screw up twice the gloves are coming off). I will probably give them another chance, as it’s my first experience and whatnot, but I might be apprehensive of ordering something that I need in a week and probably reserve their second chance for something that I can order two or three weeks out.
There is one shining spot of it – UPS has been getting the 43 pound set from the middle of the country to Ohio at a record speed – within 16 hours (which includes an overnight), they made it from the origin to Toledo, Ohio. They’re trying like Hell (and will most likely be successful) at getting it to me on Monday. Conveniently right after the weekend. Of course it could have been here Friday if it was shipped a day sooner.
In addition to the supplies, I stopped by a local retailer (I don’t want to call them a homebrew shop, since they’re a large eclectic grocery store that happens to have some homebrewing supplies as well as one of the best beer stocks in the region). I quickly located and purchased the LME, DME, yeast, and hops. However, I was a bit disappointed in the hops selection. I was able to find Soriache Ace (bittering) and Cascade (aromatic) hops, but there was a lot of Cascade and some other varieties of almost all aromatic hops – very few bittering hops. Their refrigerator was mostly bare. I’m going to check them again and see if it was just that they had a lot of purchases prior to Labor Day. I also want to check another local homebrew shop or two.
In the meantime, I’ve been saving and washing a lot of bottles. I’ve been on the lookout for “Grolsch Style” bottles, but haven’t found any Grolsch lately (and the last place I bought it at appears to no longer carry it, although they do have the bottle in the picture below). I think I’d prefer those to having to cap bottles, but I know I’m probably going to be using normal bottles for the first batch. And the second. Probably the third too. Most likely even the fourth.
I did wash and remove the painted labels from four Stone bottles. Using the hint provided on Home Brew Talk, I soaked the bottles in Star San (prepared according to the label on the back) for around 22 hours. I was able to wipe all the paint off the Stone IPA bottles with a damp rag. Same with everything that wasn’t blue on their Self Righteous IPA. And the same with everything that wasn’t gold on their Ruination (there is, unfortunately, a lot of gold on those bottles). However, I decided I’d try something abrasive (which happened to be a bar of Lava soap since I was at my utility sink) and it started taking gold off a Ruination bottle, so I took a dish scrubbing pad to those bottles and that took the remaining paint off.
I’m up to around 30 bottles currently, and I probably won’t be bottling my first batch until early October, so I’m probably going to have enough by the time bottle day rolls around. And I’m already dreaming of a keg system and one of those conical fermentors that I’ll probably never actually get in real life.
I’ve already decided my first brew will be the Cincinnati Pale Ale as included on John Palmer’s Website. First off, I live in Cincinnati (a wonderful place to live if you like beer, thanks to Rhinegeist, MadTree, Moerlein, and other breweries), and I like Pale Ales. I will use extracts (mostly because this is my first and I want to make it easy on myself), but I likely will not be using a kit for ingredients because I want control over what I get. I think at some point in the future I will go all-grain, but walk before run.
One thing I think I will be doing prior to brew day is figuring out every little detail for brew day from where things will sit and what will be where when it is used. I figure it might be a smart thing to make sure I don’t get into a position where I have to carry a 30-pound+ vat of boiling wort halfway across the house to dump it into the fermentor… or have to hunt for the fermentor.