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?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) May 13, 2011 at 6:03 am

I’m not a fan of wine (damn me and my fickle taste buds…) but I am a big lover of craft beers and homebrews. I’m really excied that your trying this out!!! It looks like fun!

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2 Melissa May 13, 2011 at 6:30 am

How fun! My husband and I had a Shiner themed week this past week. Beer braised chicken, Shiner WW bread and Shiner Jalapeno Creamed Corn! Never thought of tackling home brewing…I may be a little intimidated to do so!

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3 Angie (Telly's Tasty Tidbits) May 13, 2011 at 7:21 am

I have to agree about kegging! We honestly think that’ll we’ll start kegging with our next batch too! Of the one’s we’ve made my favorite so far has been an Amber Ale. We tried an Oktoberfest (that my husband called Robtoberfest) that was not good at all. Bummer too because we LOVE Oktoberfest beers!

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4 Angie May 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

Would love to hear what recipes you use for your wines.

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5 foodiebride May 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm

@Angie – We purchase pressed grapes (the juice minus the skins, aka “must,”- we don’t have the space for equipment to start with whole grapes) through a beer & wine supply store along with yeast and a handful of other things necessary to make and clear the wine. I’ve always wanted to do a fruit wine, which would have more of a traditional recipe than a…. well, an almost commercial procedure. Maybe this year :)

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6 Becky May 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Love this post! My hubby and I have started brewing our own beer too – it’s definitely easier with two sets of hands! We haven’t tried wine-making yet, but that might be next on our list. : )

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7 Tina May 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

The hubs just kegged his Belgian Dubel this afternoon! Only took him 15 minutes (including sanitation)… you will LOVE the kegging system! Plus you only have to wait 2 days for carbonation (score!) :) Ya’ll make your own port too?! I need to get on that one!

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8 foodiebride May 18, 2011 at 7:48 am

@Tina – no comment in the history of my blog has made me happier than this one :) 2 days?! I had no idea! I thought I was just getting out of the tedious bottling process. We will be pulling the trigger on the keg much sooner than later!

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9 Josie May 16, 2011 at 6:50 am

I love that you guys homebrew. Joey is itching to get into it, but is waiting to pass the CPA first. I’m filing this post away for when the time comes though :-)
PS I also REALLY love that you make your own wine.

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10 Anne @ Baking Me May 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Great post! My husband and I just started the process of brewing beer for the first time last week. I would love to try making wine sometime, maybe once we get the beer down we’ll give it a try :)

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11 Stephanie May 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Fellow beer brewers! My husband and I recently got into brewing our own beer, and it’s been an adventure for sure! We bought a cheap turkey frier and use it to boil everything out in the garage or on the back porch so our house doesn’t smell like boiling hops for three days. We’re also looking into getting a kegerator…let me know if you find a good one!

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12 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) May 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I just sent this link to my boyfriend who is going to brew for his first time in 2 weeks. I’m so excited! Great post. :)

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13 Brianna May 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

Just came across this post of yours – really great! My family is into home-brewing as well. My brother was the first one to get into it and then all of us joined in after a while. It’s definitely something fun to do together (and drink together) :) We use a giant outside burner (intended for deep frying) for boiling, not so much for the smell (I actually like it; is that weird?) but so that we don’t have to transfer a very full, hot pot from inside to outside. Looking forward to hearing more about what you brew up!

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14 violarulz/ducksandbooks May 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

some good friends of mine brew and they built themselves a kegerator for christmas last year, very similar to this setup: http://www.mikebeer.net/chestfreezer.htm Until your munchkin is taller, it’s almost kid proof too! You can skip the 2 days to carbonate by gently rolling your keg on the ground, also a fun party activity :) because who owns a kegorator and doesn’t have friends over to share the bounty with?!

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15 Michelle September 20, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Where did you get your equipment?

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16 foodiebride September 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm

We get most of our homebrew stuff from DeFalco’s in Houston.

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17 April February 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

What a woman! My husband has a kegerator and we love it! We buy kegs of micro brew from one of FIVE local brewarys and the husband is currently making his first batch of homebrew! We can’t wait! Cheers to good beer!!

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