Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventure in the Kitchen: the Bluebird Brewery

I really do enjoy a good beer after a fun day on the slopes, bike ride, hike, or just about any other activity.  When I travel, I like to taste local microbrews - another way to experience local culture.  This spring I decided to try my hand at making beer.  I had help from my friend Mitch, who had made beer before, and he also had the equipment for the project.  The process took about 5 weeks from brewing to a finished beer ready to drink.

We ordered the ingredients on line from DIY Brewing Supply and used their recipe to make the American Brown Ale.  It is recommended for beginners, and we used the extract kit to save a few steps in the brewing process.

Beer Supplies

We sterilized all our buckets, bottles and utensils prior to starting our brew.  Keeping the beer free from contamination (bacteria, mold etc.) is critical for a good quality beer.  We started brewing on Sunday, April 15th, following the directions that came with the kit. 

We boiled 2 gallons of water, added the ingredients in the amounts and timing per the instructions while the brew boiled on the stove.  The smell of the grains and hops were nice as we added them into the pot.  We filled the sink with ice and placed the hot pot of concentrated brew into the ice to cool it.  We then added the concentrated brew to the 3 gallons of cool water we had boiled and refrigerated the day before.  When the temperature of the concentrated brew was around room temp we added the yeast.  Covered the white bucket and waited as the fermentation process began. 

On the 4th day we transferred the brew into another sanitized white bucket.  We used a siphon careful not to disturb or transfer the residue on the bottom of the initial bucket into the new bucket.  Our crude way of filtering the beer.  We again covered the bucket and waited as the beer fermented. 

On the 6th day we added corn sugar, siphoned the beer into a bucket special spigot for bottling,  again using a siphon, careful not to disturb the residue on the bottom of the bucket.  We then bottled and capped the beer.

The Bottling Process

Capping the Beer

We came up with a name for our beer, and I made the labels for our new brew and brewery.  I printed the labels at Staples using their laser printer, since I thought it was less likely the ink would run then with my inkjet printer.  We dipped the backs of the backs of the labels in milk, instead of using glue, to stick the labels to the bottles.

Blue Bird Brewery
Tough Mudder American Brown Ale

We tasted the beer at one week intervals, until it had the right carbonation. It took about 3 weeks before it was ready.  The beer is some of the best beer I ever tasted.  Smooth and refreshing.  The only problem is we only have 2 cases of it, well after this weekend 1 1/2 cases, and it is going fast.

Mmmm Good!