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Old 01-10-2010, 10:33 AM  
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Good stuff, Nestor.

When we lived in the south I brewed my own beer. It took a few tries, but in the end it was better than anything I could buy at the local beverage store. The problem down there was the beer was stored in heat.

After that, I worked in Europe for eleven years and learned what good, fresh beer should taste like.

Now back in the US and living in the Boston area of Sam Adams, several micro breweries and many brew pubs, I haven't felt the need to make my own anymore. Your messages have me interested in "the hobby" again. Thanks a lot

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Old 01-10-2010, 11:57 AM  
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Thanks, Con65.

I'm always kinda self conscious telling people that my homemade beer tasted better than store bought because I always suspect they're gonna be thinking to themselves "Yeah, sure, whatever." But, it's not until you taste homemade beer that you see that it does taste better than store bought. I always believed it was because of the natural carbonation process, but your point that it's fresher than store bought is valid too.

I re-read Oldog/Newtrick's original post asking me if I thought it was "worth it" to get into home brewing, and I guess the answer depends entirely on whether that kind of hobby appeals to you or not. If making your own beer appeals to you, then I'd say it's a hobby well worth pursuing, especially if you have friends that drink beer and there are social functions you go to in which you could bring a supply of beer, such as a lodge, bingo or mason's meetings. I know when I made beer, I would always bring 12 one liter soft drink bottles to the Christmas parties I was invited to in an empty box from a liquor store and leave the beer outside in the cold for people to take as they wanted to, and most times it was all gone by the end of the night. That's cuz when you can make 10 gallons of the stuff for $30, it's so cheap you don't mind giving it away. (It's about the same price as windshield washer fluid for crying out loud.)

But, I'd be concerned about recommending the hobby to anyone who smokes or gambles or otherwise engages in self-destructive behaviour. Such people, me thinks, tend to become easily addicted to things, and for them to start making their own beer might not be such a good idea. But, I'm not a psychologist. I just think that people who make their own alcohol have a better chance of becoming alcoholics than those that drink less often.

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Old 01-10-2010, 05:48 PM  
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My curiosity in home brewing is from a DIY viewpoint. I'm more curious about the effort required vs taste value of the finished product. ie. is this something I have to baby sit 19 1/2 hrs a day and it tastes like well you know...I really am not looking at this from a cost savings but taking pride in doing something myself. Hey, thats why we are all here.

Son-in-law and my best friend seem interested in trying this, heck we could always sell it for windshield washer fluid if it doesn't turn out.
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:05 PM  
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Homebrewing is not a time intensive hobby. It takes one evening (about 3 hours) to start a 10 gallon batch. A week to 10 days later it takes another hour to siphon the beer from the primary fermentor into the secondary fermentors, fit the air locks and clean out the primary fermentor. And, about 10 days to 2 weeks later, it takes from 1 to 4 hours to bottle, depending on whether you're working alone or have help. (The biggest hunk of that time is spent sterilizing the bottles with sodium metabisulphite and then rinsing them out with clean water. Filling the bottles with beer and screwing the caps on goes quickly. If you have your son and a friend to help, then one person can sterilize, one can rinse and the third can bottle and cap. With 3 people, you can bottle ten gallons in an hour or so.

The rest of the time, the hobby involves no more than looking through a clear plastic bag (on the primary fermentor) or watching an air lock for a minute or two to see how often it bubbles. This is done just to ensure that fermentation is proceeding normally.

You can reduce the time spend sterilizing by using bigger bottles, but because you can stir up the dregs on the bottom of the bottle by pouring from the bottle more than once, it's best to use a bottle that approximates the amount of beer you'd typically want to consume at one time, and get a glass, mug or stein that size so that you pour from that bottle only once. The more you tip the bottle back and forth (ie: pour from it) the more you stir up the dregs on the bottom.) A sensible alternative would be to use large 2 liter soft drink bottles. When you want to drink some beer, just pour the beer into an empty 2 liter bottle to separate the beer from the dregs, and then pour from the second bottle as little or much as you want and store the rest for next time. That way, there's no dregs in that second bottle to stir up by pouring from it repeatedly.

Quality won't be an issue. If you can read the English instructions on the label, and follow them, you'll be making good beer... certainly good enough quality to bottle and offer to friends and relatives when they come over. When my dad was still alive, he used to come over and buy beer off me for $1 per liter size bottle. It cost me much less than that to make, but he said that if he didn't give me something for it, he wouldn't feel comfortable asking me for it.

What I actually found the most pleasure in was telling the people who were interested in my beer making all about beer, wine and spirits in general. It was great to take a box of beer down to a Christmas party cuz I'd know the subject of beer and wine would invariably arise, and I'd love to talk about the subject and tell people interesting stories and facts about beer, wine and spirits. Just the subject matter itself was a social lubricant. For example, did you know that the difference between wine, brandy and cognac was that if you distill wine, you get brandy and if you distill brandy you get cognac. It's true. The monestaries of Europe were the institutions of higher learning during the dark ages (from about 300 to 900 AD), and at that time distillation of alcohol was considered high technology. So, many monestaries would have their own vineyards, produce wine and distill it into brandy and then cognac. Even to this day the Benedictine Order of monks derives a royalty from every bottle of Benedictine cognac sold. Also, now you know why a bottle of brandy costs twice as much as a bottle of wine, and a bottle of cognac costs more still. You have to boil away 4 bottles of wine to distill the alcohol into a single bottle of cognac.

But I digress...

I'd say try making some beer and see what you think. I think you will be happy with both the taste and quality of the end product.

PS: If you want to make a really interesting drink, you can use your beer making equipment to make "mead" instead. Mead predates beer and is probably as old or even older than wine. Mead was made all over the world, everywhere that was warm enough to have flowers and bees . Evidence of people dissolving honey in water and adding different fruits, spices and herbs, and then fermenting that liquid to make "mead" date back to 7,000 BC. In fact, in the Ukrainian language, the word for honey is pronounced "meed". In Europe, mead was made in Britain before the Romans introduced beer to the island. Offering people a drink that dates back nearly 10,000 years, from before Cristianity, from even before the pyramids, is certainly a good conversation starter at a Christmas party.

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