Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beginning Home Brewing

Last year, when it used to rain, wild mustang grapes made a fair crop at our family place in Lampasas. We had always made this wonderful grape jelly from them. My wife cooked up a batch of jelly for the season and we were set for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My next trip up I found a new growth of ripe grapes so I picked a couple of buckets full and took them home. My wife informed me that she had made all the jelly she cared to make for a while so I decided to use the grapes and try an old wine making recipe. I ended up making my first batch of wild mustang grape wine and it turned out wonderful. I was looking forward to making a second batch this year as the sixteen bottles from last year are all gone. Since there has only been 2.75 inches of rain this year there were no grapes to harvest so I will not be making wild grape wine.

This brings me to my current project, I have a friend that is an accomplished brewer and makes craft beers and ales along with classic wines. He offered to let me come over and watch him brew up a batch and put it into the carboy fermenter. I learned about mini mash recipes, malted grains and malt extract along with the wonderful smelling plant, hops. All of this was steeped, mixed, stirred and cooked. It is rapidly cooled and special yeast is added before it is poured into a fermenter and an airlock placed on top to let the fermentation process begin. There is a lot to making a premium craft beer or ale but there are complete recipes for the beginner and homebrew enthusiast to follow step by step. We also mixed a batch of Chilean Merlot to start fermenting. This came in a kit with all the ingredients along with complete directions.

After a trip to Austin Homebrew Supply with my friend, I am watching the classifieds for used brewing equipment such as carboys, Cornelius kegs, air locks and other brewing and wine making supplies. There are all sorts of places online where one can learn about this process along with suppliers of equipment and kits with enclosed recipes. Here is the link to the homebrew supply I visited in Austin.  I had never been in the store, however I found the staff to be very helpful.  I wondered through the isles of wine kits, equipment bins, books, cheese making supplies, grain bins, malt extracts and other supplies that I do not have a clue what they were, but I will learn.  The helpful staff answered all my beginner questions and acted like I was a long time valued customer.  It was so great to go somewhere that the staff appreciates customers and does not treat them as though they are doing them a favor to wait on them.  Austin Homebrew Supply can supply complete equipment kits and recipe kits along with printed instruction sheets for making your favorite craft beers, ales or wines. I am sure they would be happy to ship right to your door.  I am getting ready to make their Texas Red Ale my next project, Wild Ed

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