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That dumb hobby

I bottled my sixth batch of homebrew beer tonight...as hobbies go, homebrewing isn't really as much fun as I imagined it would be. Everything I made from kits tasted kind of the same, so I ordered some non-kit ingredients and started tinkering. First I substituted a yeast I'd purchased for the kit-yeast, figuring the kit-yeasts were lending some weird and distinctive flavor to everything I made. Then I substituted some malt for a kit that came with this sugary stuff that's really not very good.

The batch I bottled tonight took the actual plunge. No kit, all ingredients I bought separately and plugged in to a recipe program to determine how much of whatever to put in. (It's still considered newbie level because I used malt instead of grains...but I still hopped it myself.)

I take a little taste before I bottle (it's raw and flat, but you're supposed to determine it does taste remotely like beer before you continue.) It did taste remotely like beer. It was a lot paler than I thought it would be. I guess we'll see what I've got in a few weeks.

Honestly, homebrewing seems like 95% sterilizing things, 4% watching things boil and 1% fun at this point. I think the thing I liked most is reading about ingredients.



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
Yes it is all in the sterilization and watching. I never did it myself, I made hard cider and infused vodkas. The cider was a process that I care not to repeat. I just remember having the job of washing the apples. Tubfuls and I mean about 10 tubfuls of apples. And then I had the job of pressing them - pain in the arse. But it was yummy.
Mar. 7th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
I also made a batch of cider (from concentrate) and it's okay. Tastes like fizzy apple juice. That's nothing like the real cider you made though.
Mar. 7th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
I always liked watching the bubbling. And I liked the bottling and capping. Actually. I liked it all except for the fact that I'm more into caffeine than alcohol, and home brew gives me the runs...


Maybe you can try making homemade soap next. That's fun, and you get faster gratification. And inexpensive Christmas gifts for the neighbor/co-worker set.

I haven't order Starving Years quite yet, busy time at work, but you can be sure I'll be on it soon. Excited. :)
Mar. 7th, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
I'm quite the proficient soapmaker (except that time we used a galvanized pot for the lye and ended up putting it out on the sidewalk and calling the fire department...but that was totally not my fault.)

I don't usually do it until it's warm enough that my oils aren't solid at room temp and I can go outside and make my lye. But now my olive oil is rancid and I'll need to find a cheap source.

People used to buy soap from me back in my biggest soap heyday. How weird.

Homebrew seems to give me the headaches....
Mar. 7th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
You know, I think you told me that about soap-making before. In fact, it struck me then that I've rarely met someone else as into just *doing* stuff with hands as you. I really get off on making things--and more than that--stretching to make new thing. Knitting doesn't do it for me, but learning new stuff does... if that makes sense.

I think that came up once when we were discussing ceramics. Which, I don't have a degree in the arts, but sold ceramics (mostly wheel) for a while, and I kind of miss it, and yeah, sold soap for a short time (but never beer, hah!). And have made breads and done carpentry and canning, and I spent a couple summers convinced I could be a backyard farmer and grow all my own veggies if I just... (uh... no.) :P

And don't even count that period where I was convinced I wanted to build my own adobe house in NM. :D

I love stuff like that. Dreaming at the very least, but doing when I can.
Mar. 7th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
OH! That's right! We talked about it when you saw the slide of my coil-built raku heads, I think, in the back of my story Sympathy. That was a long time ago!

I've also tinkered with canning, made bread a lot before I cut back on carbs...made fresh cheese...I dunno, I think some of us just get off on making stuff for the joy of seeing if we can.

I'm thinking about taking up tatting again. I taught myself 20 years ago and was never great at it, and in fact have no need for tatted edgings. But these urges don't need to make logical sense, do they?
Mar. 7th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Yep. That was the discussion. I'm amazed you remember! (Of course I do, I was in awe that I was chatting ceramics with JCP!!).

CHEESE! I have not done that. Want to. Oh yes. That MUST be next. Even though -- oh lord, cheese is already my fat/salt downfall, do I really want to enter that den of iniquity?

Mar. 7th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
Now I'm looking up tatting patterns online, and it occurs to me that I've always wanted to hook rugs with found wool strips...and that I now know a really good place to get cheap used clothes to make those strips from. A hooked rug seems more useful than a tatted whatchamacallit.

I had a friend who was watching a neighbor's goats and he made the cheese thing out to be no big deal whatsoever, like take the milk and add some vinegar. You can make fresh cheese like that pretty simply.

I've had good luck making buttermilk, but then I tried another brand and it didn't work. I think some companies over-process the life out of their dairy.
Mar. 8th, 2012 12:07 am (UTC)
That sounds cool. I haven't done much with fabric at all. I've seen that making mozarella is pretty simple that way. And yes, I gather that's an issue with cheese-making--finding good milk.

Heh. One of the funner things I did was dig up clay from my back yard (while digging a new bed for raspberries, heh, settle out the silts, and try to throw what was left. Then I scattered wood ashes over the little jars I made and fired them. They are sitting on the mantle now. They look good, I think, but they're heavy and thick, because our backyard clay really isn't much good for throwing (no strength). But it's fun to look at them and know their provenance intimately. :)
Mar. 8th, 2012 09:27 am (UTC)
Years ago, my brother had a whole pile of bottles of home brew in his spare room. He'd just been in to check them all, and no sooner had he left the room than the lot of them exploded. Glass and beer everywhere. He has no idea what prompted them to do that, but he's glad he wasn't in the room when it happened.
Mar. 8th, 2012 10:41 am (UTC)
They call those "beer bombs." I bottle in plastic so I don't need to worry about that :D
Mar. 8th, 2012 12:25 pm (UTC)
I prefer baking--it's simpler, and no sterilizing. I recently perfected the recipe for something I call fruit loaf (not fruitcake!). I translated the ingredients from metric to imperial, and then I had to adjust them, but after several tries it came out perfect.

I do mean pickled beets. Canning is something that appeals to me too, as I used to do it as a child with relatives.
Mar. 8th, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC)
Maybe trying more new recipes is a more constructive way for me to go. My friend also has a canning setup and has invited me to can with her...not that there's anything do can this time of year. Though we're both intrigued by meat canning.
Mar. 8th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
"1% fun at this point"

LOL I need way more fun in my hobbies than that, but I salute you for going from scratch. Hope it turns out. My parents made beer once and wine a couple of times and then figured it was just easier to buy it at the store.
Mar. 8th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
It's one of those hobbies where you figure you might as well use that damn equipment you bought.
Amanda Corlies
Mar. 9th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
The fun is most definitely on the flip side when the drinking begins. I just hate the waiting. We make wine every year on our farm from the Concord vines that have been growing here since before I was born. We use part of the crop for jelly, and part of it for wine. The wine making is ridiculous! You add one thing and wait for weeks, add another thing, wait for weeks more. Gah! But, I sure do enjoy the drinking part. :D
Mar. 9th, 2012 08:26 am (UTC)
How many acres are on your farm?

One year there was going to be a really early frost, and a customer I knew from the library invited me to come out to her farm and pick whatever I wanted since it would be lost to the frost if I didn't. She had grapes--your story reminds me of that. They were nothing like store bought. Lots of character.
Josephine Myles
Mar. 21st, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
The husband makes homebrew on occasion, and he gets the best flavoured stuff when he boils up the malted grains - the darker the better. If you can get chocolate malts over in the states, you can make good, strong flavoured beer - British style!
Mar. 21st, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
My latest recipe - the one I made myself - is making me think it might be worth my time.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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