Saturday, October 27, 2012

Something's Brewing

I've been up to something in the kitchen.  Yes, folks, I'm learning how to brew beer.  Recently, the Otago University Brewers Association formed and I was there to help them spend the grant money on things like pots, fermenters and bottle cappers.  We purchased most of our items at Dunedin's Malt House, but Tiff was an awesome brewing buddy and she went out of her way to pick elderflowers (flowers of the elderberry) for our pale ale. 


We met up at 4pm to buy the malts, hops and yeast.  After all the steeping, brewing, and sparging was done we had a nice wort to pour into the fermenters.  So, by 10pm-ish we had gone from this:

To this: 

All the action took place in a kitchen on campus.  Boy, did the Clubs and Societies building smell GREAT from steeping the malts!  I believe our pots are 24 liters each... that's going to be a fair amount of awesomeness (the girls' Elderflower English Pale Ale and the boys' Saku Porter) to split between the 5 of us who bought in on the first brew ($20/person).

As luck would have it, I was able to take advantage of an Emerson's brewery tour the very next day and THE owner, Richard Emerson, was the tour guide!

I asked him about sharing his pilsner recipe; he just smiled and said they use a very special kind of yeast.  You can't blame a girl for trying!  At least I know one of the ingredients. 

Richard Emerson was a great tour guide - he just oozes contagious passion for beer.  At the end of the tour we sampled: Pilsner, Bookbinder, Brewer's Reserve, London Porter and Dunkel (the banana flavor was unexpectedly tasty!).

I certainly appreciated the tour more now that I've started brewing myself.  I had all sorts of questions about how various things affected the taste of the beer, but you know what?  Asking an established brewer how "bad" it is to add yeast before the wort cools to the desired temperature is like asking an established surgeon related advise on frog dissection in a high school biology class.  I need to just enjoy the process of discovery for myself. M'mm, and what a fun process it will be!

Folks interested in brewing should check out The Beer Less Traveled blog (the writer is from my part of New York and is over here in New Zealand, too!) and The Beer Less Traveled Facebook page (lots of pictures!).  Cheers!

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