The First Brew Day
So full disclosure, if you haven’t already figured it out from a few comments in our first post. We started brewing back in 2013, so this post is more of a retrospective of how the first home brew day came to be, how we decided certain decisions and what transpired.
When we finally decided to buy all the equipment and start brewing both Ben and I had been interested in the craft beer scene and all the new variations of styles that were hitting the shelves. You see, this was 2013, right in the middle of the Big Hop craze when breweries were doing everything in their power to get the most IBU’s out of their beers. IPA’s were slamming the market. Strange variants were popping up and intriguing many. Sales from the industry were starting to hit new highs.
I had been using the untappd app for over two years already at this point and I had gotten the beer ticking bug. I loved finding new styles, new breweries and new flavors.
So what was I going to brew for my first beer? What did Ben want to brew for this first home brew? Were certain styles harder to make than others? There were still so many questions.
We ended up discussing our options and did what most new brewers do and decided on a simple Pale Ale for our first batch.
These sort of beers aren’t usually very complex (not saying they can’t be) and usually have a very mellow/rounded profile. We figured this will allow us to see if we could make a beer and not worry about the high IBU’s or creating some strange variant on our first go.
So, my brother had the basic principles down as far as the process and how to brew, but neither of us had many ideas as to what goes into a beer recipe. So I started doing some research and found BeerSmith with their associated recipe search engine.
BeerSmith provided a user driven database that allows users to upload their recipes. Other users can then pull those recipes down, brew the beer and rate the outcome, provide tasting notes, among other things.
I knew this was probably the best place to start for a new brewer and decided to find a good, solid, simple pale ale recipe.
The image below shows the whole recipe list for our first 5 gallons batch of beer and an image of everything that came (minus the hops)
Once we had everything in hand we picked a day to do it.
I immediately fell in love with the process. By todays standards of how we brew, this was a very simple extract recipe and such a great way to dive into the whole process. When brewing an extract, especially such a simple recipe as this, it feels very much like making a soup.
Add water to kettle – check
Steep crushed grains in hot water – check
Remove grains and heat water to boil – check
Add dry male extract to water – check
Boil and add hops when required – check
After an hour, cool wort down to required yeast temperature and throw the yeast in – check
That’s really the whole process in a nutshell.