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homebrewing with brother mouse

batch[00] weizen There is something strange and wonderful about making your own beer. Watching an airlock going "bloop" is more fun than watching TV, and watching yeast flail the beer at full churn is fascinating, like some alien lifeform is in your house.

If watching airlocks is not your idea of fun but you haven't run screaming yet, then you probably have some basic questions about homebrewing. Be forewarned there is a saying: "if you like washing dishes you'll love homebrewing". :-)

My brewing history

brewing, circa 1987

I was stationed in (the former West) Germany for my entire tour in the US Army (1984-1988). My base was in Schwaebisch Gmuend, in the Baden-Wurtemburg region (about 40k east of Stuttgart).

My favorite beer was weizen, in both the hefe (yeasty/unfiltered) and kristall (clear/filtered) variants. AFAIK, this style was not widely available commercially in the US at that time, so I decided to learn homebrewing so I could have weizen when I returned stateside. So in the beginning it was a practical thing. Later on it would turn into a geek/science/amazement thing.

The problem at the time is only one mail-order house would ship to an APO address. So I ordered a basic bucket kit from WB, and enough ingredients to make a brown ale and a couple other batches from extract. That went well. In the pic to the right you can see my original gear. In the left side of the pic you can make out a cassette tape (!) and some LPs (!!). "Back when I was a boy..."

I exited the Army in 1988, found a supplier for bulk 6-row malt and wheat. I used 6row because of the greater enzymatic strength to help with the wheat adjunct. My normal AG batch was 66% malt and 33% wheat. I mashed on the stove-top and sparged in the Zapap bucket-in-bucket setup. Boiled on the stovetop. Liquid yeast was still exotic, and I cultured it in beer bottles a la JoHB. I used (and use) an old Corona grain mill. Some folks turn up their nose but the grind is decent and I get about 75% efficiency, even with high percentages of wheat adjunct.

The Dark Ages

For various reasons I put my brewing gear into storage in the early 90s and didn't brew for 17yrs. I missed it terribly and threatened that when I bought a house I would pick up the the mash paddle again.

Back in the saddle: my current setup

The Dear Wife and I bought our first house in late 2007, and I finally have room to brew again. I started brewing again in early 2008 and do as much as possible on the deck out back; this greatly simplifies cleanup. You can follow my brewing progress on my blog.

Some things are better/cheaper or more available than they were. Some things I didn't know about before. Here are some things I'm doing differently this time around and heartily endorse:

$Id: index.orb,v 1.18 2009/12/15 02:46:39 mouse Exp $

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