Monday, May 2, 2011

Sewing and Beer

Not together, unfortunately, since the beer was last night and the sewing is this morning before class.  Although it's the last week of class, I'm sure the prof would mind if the TA showed up tipsy.

The RTW jacket is coming along, but I'm trying to be much more careful in the sewing than usual, which also means going much more slowly than usual.  There's basically a million pieces to this jacket, and almost all of them are interfaced and/or underlined, even the facings, so that part is taking me quite a while.  It's gotten warm enough to keep the windows open, so the cat is helping by keeping things weighted down and not blowing around.

Things for the pot
J and I pitched a British bitter last night, a brown ale type with a lot of floral hops but not too much bitterness. I was going to do a tutorial-type post, but we got rolling and I forgot to take pictures.  We ordered a kit from Northern Brewer, along with some new equipment, which made life much easier.  The kit was about USD45, and came with everything necessary except for steeping bags for the hops (that's the little pile of cheesecloth and kitchen twine on the far right).  This recipe had both dried malt extract (the big white bag), actual grain, and malt syrup (the jug on the right).  The two silver bags are the hops and the inflated blue/black bag in back is the yeast, which we activated in-bag by popping the nutrient capsule the morning before brewing.

Things which need sanitizing
Yes, we sanitize in the bathtub.  We use bleach because it's cheap and easy to get, and doesn't foam up like dish soap.  There are specialty sanitizers you can buy from brewing supply houses, but bleach is at the grocery store and hard to run out of.  

Despite having dried malt extract, malt syrup, and grain, the recipe was actually very easy.  If you can make soup or tea, you can make beer, because the grain steeped at one temperature for 20min, the extract and syrup were mixed in at a higher temp, and the whole thing with hops was boiled for an hour (mostly to pasteurize).  We bought a candy thermometer for this batch, which was much easier to use than the digital meat thermometer we've been trying to use before.  Made life much easier, and was two dollars instead of twenty for the digital thermometer.  Also wonderful: cheesecloth bags which keep the grain and the hops neatly contained and easy to get out.

After everything was boiled up, the pot was chilled down in the sink full of cold water, and then poured into the carboy (big glass jug).  More cold clean water was added to the carboy to bring it to room temperature, and after everything was aerated (sloshed around to bring in oxygen and mix the different density liquids) we siphoned out some liquid to test its density (there's a special, but cheap, tool for this called a hydrometer that makes you look like a scientist), poured in the yeast, and put the beer away to do its thing.  

Sounds easy because it is.  This one will be done fermenting May 14; look for a bottling update then, and it'll be ready to drink May 28.  For today, I'm off to work on the RTW jacket.

1 comment:

  1. I know a few folks (of the two-legged and four-legged variety) who would be happy to volunteer to be taste-testers...
    happy sewing!