Monday, December 10, 2007

Beer: Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew!

I've been toying with getting into homebrewing for months. On Saturday, I finally decided to take the plunge and bought an equipment kit. I went to Great Fermentations, which, according to everybody I talked to, is definitely the place for rookie homebrewers in Indy. They've got three levels of introductory kits that differ in the quality of the fermenter and accessories. I'm pretty sure I'm going to love this and will be in it for the long-haul, so I went with the best kit they had. Some of the accessories are higher quality than the other kits but the main difference is that it comes with two glass carboys, one 6.5 gallon as the primary fermenter and one 5 gallon as the secondary fermenter. I don't think I'll need the secondary fermenter for my first couple batches, but I figure I'll be glad I have it in the long-run.

The kit also included a copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian that I was going to buy separately anyway. It's an excellent beginners guide and is considered by many to be the bible of homebrewing.

Being that I live in an apartment, finding space for the carboy was a little tricky. I don't want a mess all over a bed, TV, or clothes in a closet if I screw something up and end up with a sticky beer explosion. Luckily we've got two bathrooms, one with a tub and one with a shower stall. The shower stall has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and is now my new brewery!

My first beer is from an ingredients kit called "California Style Imperial Pale." The people in the store said that's another name for double IPA, though it's described online as, "Our take on the popular Arrogant Bastard Ale." If mine comes out half as good as Arrogant Bastard, I'll be pretty pleased. I'll be making up the wort tonight and I'll keep you guys posted on my progress. I'm excited and a little nervous about screwing it up, but I keep reminding myself of Charlie Papazian's credo:

"Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew!"

Wish me luck!


rodney said...

We're looking at picking up Homebrewing sometime this Winter. Just so I know what to expect when I go into Great Fermentations, around what price points were each of the kits offered at? I assume you would recommend going with the best one?

CorrND said...

The prices they have in-store are basically the same as they have online. The only difference is that the in-store prices add the cost of one ingredients kit (from a large selection). No biggie, since that's probably where you want to start anyway.

I got the impression from people I've talked to that if you think you're going to brew more than a handful of batches, you're better off ponying up in the beginning. You'd probably end up with that equipment anyway.

Matt said...

What size of bottles are you planning on bottling in? I am going with the 22's instead of the 12's. It just a pain in the ass to sanitize and fill and cap all those bottles.

Or you can just go with the kegging route and make it real easy.

Luke A. Burke said...


I also used the Papazian book to guide me through my first batch and it turned out great. Fresh beer just tastes better so even if you completely hose it up I think you'll still enjoy it. Besides, what's better, a pizza you make or one you get at the restaurant?

I suggest getting a bottle washer if you haven't already bought one. It makes it easier to rinse after consuming and of course speed if of the essence so you can get to your next beer.

CorrND said...

matt -- For now, I'm just saving what I drink, which is mostly 12s and just a handful of 22s (including a Double Bastard that I popped last night to celebrate the first brewing. Mmmmm.). I'm likely to have to buy some more to have enough at bottling time and I'll probably also go with 22s.

piepton -- Thanks man! How did your second batch go? I forget, was it a pumpkin ale? Are you on your third or fourth batch by now?