I'm not sure exactly when it began.
At some point over these past few months we became super devotees of Food Network mad scientist Alton Brown. I think it was largely just a matter of timing. His show is on at 5:30 right when we both get home from work and are in the mood to just sit mindlessly in front of the TV for half an hour. And I'm sure it also had a lot to do with content. The how-to appeals to me, and Sweet Husband enjoys the "science behind the food"--a good his/hers combination that can't be found in "Monster Garage" or "Surprise By Design".
Largely our relationship with Dear Alton has been very enlightening. He's lead us on several culinary escapades that we wouldn't have otherwise taken. We've tried fresh artichokes and collared greens; learned to make pie crusts and how to process all sorts of cuts of meat.
Apparently, on Monday when I skipped Alton to take the Wee Welshman to agility, Dear Alton made beer. This evidently set off fireworks for Sweet Husband. He was quickly on a knowledge quest for all-things-brewing-beer.
I was pleased. Sweet Husband is one of those fortunate souls who loves what he does. Metal is his job and his fun. Which is great, but...well, it makes for a lot of metal. It makes it hard to buy him Christmas presents. So a new hobby is a good thing.
In pursuit of this new hobby, yesterday, we took a field trip to Bacchus and Barleycorn Winemaking and Brewing Supplies in Kansas City. If you've ever had any interest in making beer, wine, or cheese (more on that later) Bacchus is a good place to get inspired. They have all manner of supplies and information. The very Helpful Lady quickly set Sweet Husband up with a "Deluxe Brewer Starter Kit" and a "Wheat/Weizen ingredients Kit". This morning when we woke up, he was ready to make beer.
The kit ingredients assembled on our kitchen counter. A lot of this is actually used for the bottling as opposed to the brewing, but it was nice to have it all pre-collected.
This is the yeast. Inside of this bag was a little pouch full of liquid that Sweet Husband smashed to make the yeast start growing.
To begin with, everything had to be very well sterilized with a sterilizing solution.
It took a lot of water to clean this huge bottle . . .
. . . but we got there eventually!
All of the other equipment had to be sterilized as well.
In the meantime the biggest pot we own was coming to a boil on the stove. The instructions said to fill it with as much water as possible while leaving room for the other ingredients. The stuff Sweet Husband is pouring in is liquid malt.
Adding the dried malt.
Giving it a stir.
Adding the hops. These are pelletted hops--i.e. dried hops that have been crushed up and pressed out in order to make them keep better.
Irish Moss also went into the brew.
The mix had to boil for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile the yeast was growing.
After it had boiled for the required time, the "wort" went into a sink full of cold water to cool off.
While it was cooling Sweet Husband filled our jug with 4 gallons of water.
Next the wort went into the jug.
It looks kind of gross, but it actually had a very nice nutty smell.
Once the temperature was between 70 and 80 degrees it was time to add the yeast.
By that time it had ballooned up nicely.
If you like the smell of yeast, this stuff is for you. It was super concentrated.
A few sloshes to get things mixed around . . .
. . . and it was time to stop up the bottle. The special plug allows air to come out of the jug, but not go into it.
Last but not least--stored away! This whole process took about 3 hours. Now the beer has to ferment in a cool, dark place for 8-14 days before it will be ready for bottling. After that it has to sit in the bottles for a few weeks, so we should have drinkable beer by the end of July-ish. Updates on its progress will be forthcoming.