I’ve been a home brewer for coming up on three years. In the effort to make more updates on this blog, I’m going to occasionally offer some updates on my home brewing exploits. I’ll try to keep everything categorized and tagged for those of you avoiding—or looking for—specific topics!
My start with home brewing was via a Mr. Beer kit in Christmas 2011. I used their ingredients alone for a batch or two, then started tinkering with their recipes, and now I use other ingredients and use only their fermentation kegs. A “standard” home brewing rig makes 5-gallon batches, but I prefer the 2-gallon Mr. Beer kegs as it lets me experiment with more varieties.
The standard recipes I’ve done for about a year now include a pound of grain (mashed and lautered) and a large can of liquid malt extract, with obvious additions of water, hops, and other ingredients. I’ve worked mostly on a small portable electric burner. This has caused a lot of boil-over problems since electric burners do not respond quickly. My last grain batch was done on my outdoor grill’s side burner, which I think is something I’ll be doing more of in the future.
I’m planning a switch away from grain for the winter, opting instead for a combination of liquid and dry malt extracts, mainly for ease of indoor brewing. The long-term plan is to expand my equipment, though I’m unsure of whether I’ll move to 5-gallon batches, or look for a smaller fermenter (or still stick to the Mr. Beer kegs).
The next planned brew for Tipsy Kitty is a hard apple cider, which is a bit of a repeat from last year. We frequent a local orchard, usually at least once a year. They sell a delicious cider, several gallons of which we returned with on our last trip there. I’m planning to boil that up on Sunday with a few additions, and should have hard cider in time for Thanksgiving!
The cider is so easy, it almost feels like cheating. That said, the final product is a bit of a mystery, and will probably change from year to year. While their cider is surprisingly consistent, slight changes in tartness can have a big effect on flavor, as can whatever I choose to add to it!
Following the cider (hopefully next weekend, if I can find the time), I’ll be trying my first Winter Brown. It’s a basic American Brown Ale recipe (just extracts, so I can brew indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate), with the addition of several spices. You see a lot of this sort of thing in the winter, right after the pumpkin ales leave the shelves, usually referred to as Winter Ale, Christmas Ale, or Spiced Ale.
I’m a big fan of the darker brews, so this is the third or fourth brown ale I’ve brewed. I’d originally planned this to be a straight-up nut brown ale, but figured I’d give the seasonal brew thing a shot. Next year, perhaps I’ll even try a pumpkin ale?
So that’s the latest news from Tipsy Kitty Brewing Company. I also have an IPA in the works, which is a redone recipe from my last IPA attempt. That first try was probably the closest I’ve come to a complete failure. There’s a strong diacetyl flavor, the hops were not strong enough, and the color was too dark. In the end, I renamed the brew “Accidental Amber,” and I’m mostly using them for cooking (where the buttery diacetyl is much more desirable), though it is (barely) drinkable.
While losing a batch of beer after all the work is quite disappointing, it’s only by making mistakes that I learn what works and what doesn’t!