When I arrived at Austin Home Brew, I realized that their set up was much larger than I expected. They have a great facility complete with retail and shipping operations. They appeared to be very transparent, giving you a view of the grain room and how they work inside it. The sales floor has everything under the sun related to home brewing, and we spent several minutes browsing the equipment, ingredients, etc.
Once the initial awe wore off it was time to get started. The first step was to pick a recipe, and it was a little daunting looking through their recipe book because there were literally hundreds and hundreds of recipes and clones to choose from. A clone is a recipe that matches a specific name brand; if you have a favorite beer the chances are extremely good that they have a clone recipe for it. One of the experts, Christian, explained to me that the cost of the recipe kit goes up by ABV %. I finally landed on the Imperial Stout recipe and they gathered up the materials.
The next step was to learn how to brew. JB took us to the back of the building where the shipping bays were, and where he had bag of grain already steeping in a stockpot sitting on a propane cooker. He explained the process of steeping the grains like a tea bag, moving it up and down. Next was removing the grain bag and to bring the brew to a boil and then to add the malt. The malt was almost like caramel – very thick and sticky – and it was important to get it all in there while stirring vigorously to help it dissolve.
Once again, JB brought the brew to a boil and it was time to put in the hops additions to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor. At this point it was just a matter of waiting to add in hops as the recipe called for it, in this case every 30 minutes or so. While we were waiting JB set up a cold bath to quickly bring the brew down to 80°F. From there he poured the contents of the stockpot into the primary fermentation bucket, added the yeast, and locked up the bucket with an airlock to let the CO2 out and keep oxygen from getting in.
The class was very informative and allowed for socializing with my fellow Living Directors and I look forward to the second part of class.
Video Clips from the Home Brew Class:
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