54 bottles of beer on the wall

by Shawnda on May 13, 2011

in Home Brewing & Wine Making

Beer bottle caps

If you’ve been around long enough, you know that we make wine. Our port is a huge hit among our friends and family. It’s a beautiful ruby with dark chocolate and deep berry notes. It’s dessert in a glass. After 3 or 4 attempts, we’ve nailed the Riesling to a soft, buttery, peachy wine that’s a little too easy to drink :) But the shiraz might actually be my favorite. It’s what we call “pizza wine” because it goes with everything, from fancy steak night to thrown-together-in-6-minutes pizza. It’s a medium red with a nice, peppery/spicy finish.

And now I sound like I know a lot more about wine than I really do. I can make it. And I know what I like. And that’s pretty much it :)

Rinsing the grains

The move from wine to beer was a pretty easy one. It’s not very difficult to make either. You just need a few pieces of specialized equipment and some know-how. (What did people do before Google?) For beer, we start by steeping a bag of grains, boiling it (it = the wort) with a few other ingredients (malt extracts, hops, and a few other things depending on the style), pitch the yeast when the wort cools. And then you magically end up with 9 six packs of beer (nine!) that are ready to drink in about 2 months. It’s usually a two-person job (bottle washing, sterilization, transferring/bottling, etc) so it’s nice to have another thing that The Foodie Groom and I can do together that we both enjoy.

Hops

Those are hops. They give beer its flavor and aroma. They also make your kitchen stink while they’re boiling away. Before the hops go in, your kitchen will smell like GrapeNuts. It drove me crazy the first time we brewed – I couldn’t place the smell!

In the last year, we’ve brewed an agave wheat beer that was The Foodie Groom’s favorite and a Belgian white (think Blue Moon) that was my favorite, all the way down to the very last bottle.

Our current brew is a Texas-style bock (think Shiner) that we jokingly refer to as “Shawnda Bock” because I handled nearly all of it myself. And when I say “we,” I mean me. House rules: you bottle it alone, you get to name it :)

Shawnda Bock

Bottling 9 six packs by yourself is a bit daunting, trying to manage the filler tube, the bottles, the bottle capper, and the 15-month old who wants to get her chubby little hands on the filler tube, bottles, and the bottle capper. It’s easier as a two-person job but it can be done in a pinch.

I’ve already informed the Foodie Groom that I want to keg the next brew. I wonder if he ever thought he’d marry a girl who’d ask for a kegerator for her birthday?

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