3 Free Resources to Help You Celebrate ‘Learn to Homebrew Day’

Homebrew Supplies

On this date fourteen years ago, the American Homebrewers Association established the first annual “Learn to Homebrew Day” to help teach people how to brew their own beer. Over the years, partly because of this “beer holiday,” the craft of brewing your own beer has grown substantially in popularity.

Like any new hobby, knowing where to get started and how to do it right can be somewhat daunting for a beginner. I know it was for me. Because of that, I have compiled a list of free online resources that will help you get started, or just learn more about the process and techniques that go into it.

1. Get Started in Our Homebrew Learning Center

We have a trove of information about homebrewing in our Homebrew learning center. We’ve been homebrewing for years now, and it’s a hobby that we think everyone should try at least once. We’ve compiled a collection of information about homebrewing that we think will help you get started. And that information is growing as the days go by.
 … Read More

6 Tips Everyone Needs to Know Before They Brew Their Own Beer

Home brewing has taken the nation by storm. The beer brewing competitions are fiercer than ever because there are so many more competitors. If you are just getting started then there are a few things you need to know. By learning the basics and creating good habits from the beginning, you will find the entire process easier, more enjoyable, and hopefully tastier.

1. Never Overlook Sanitation

Sanitation and sterilization are two terms you should respect immediately. Sanitation issues begin before you have even started brewing and don’t end until your bottles are capped. The most important time for sterilization concerns is the period immediately after you cool your beer. This is when bacteria and other infections are most likely to take over because the yeast has not yet started to ferment.

2. Cool Your Wort Fast

It is essential that you always try to cool your wort as quickly as possible. A fast cooling process will increase the fallout of tannins and proteins that are bad your beer. It will also minimize the opportunity for bacteria to grow. As an added bonus, cooling your wort quickly can enhance the clarity of your beer to ensure it is as visually appealing as possible.

3. Start with Darker Beers

Regardless of what your favorite type of beer is, the best place to start is with the dark stuff. Darker beers, such as porters and stouts are typically better at covering up mistakes you may have made due to their forgiving makeup and flavor profile. It is easy to get disheartened if your first few batches flop so don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

4. Just Like Cooking, Your Ingredients Are Everything

There is no arguing that high quality, fresh ingredients are essential to crafting the best home brew possible. It is also important to understand your ingredients. For example, you store fresh hops in your freezer without losing much freshness, but storing crushed grains and malt will eventually end in oxidation which will destroy the flavor. Some items you can store and some you can’t.

5. Opt for Glass Fermenters

A lot of home brewing kits include plastic buckets for fermenting. While plastic fermenters are an inexpensive way to get started, they should also be a piece that you consider upgrading down the line. Glass or stainless steel fermenters offer a number of significant advantages over plastic. Contents don’t stick as easily, so they are easier to clean and sterilize. They also provide a better barrier against oxygen which plastic can’t match because they are porous.

6. Always Think Long-Term

Home brewing is an investment. Anytime you make an equipment purchase, think of how it will work over the long run. Saving a few bucks today can cost you a lot tomorrow. If you are looking to upgrade, then there is a good chance you are in it for the long haul anyways so upgrade intelligently.

Home brewing is part art, part science and a whole lot of fun. The key to brewing successfully is thinking strategically, appreciating your ingredients and making decisions with the long-term in mind. Once you have the basics down, it is all about testing and tweaking until you discover the perfect beer.

Recommended Reading:

BYO Magazine

JB Teaching Brewing ClassThis is a guest post from our buddy JB at Austin Home Brew. John “JB” Brack has been with Austin Homebrew Supply for 10 years, and homebrewing for 17 years. A member of The Austin Zealots homebrew club, JB also enjoys cycling, softball and cooking. JB is an associate editor of Brew Your Own Magazine, and chief instructor for Austin Homebrew Supply’s line of homebrewing and wine making classes.

Austin Homebrew Supply will be hosting a Brew Your Own Magazine (BYO) subscription rally, and local brewers showcase at the store on Saturday, February 11th. The event will feature BYO Magazine editor Chris Colby heading up a subscription rally with special offers only available during this event! We will also have a number of nearby breweries represented at the event. The neighborhood right around Austin Homebrew Supply has blossomed into a haven for production craft breweries and brewpubs in recent years, and we felt is was about time that we got everyone together for an event! Details are being worked out and will be posted to the Austin Homebrew Supply website and Facebook pages as they become available.

If you have never visited Austin Homebrew Supply, you should stop in and see what we are all about. We have all the proper equipment, ingredients and expert advice to help you succeed at creating your very own handcrafted beers, wines, meads, ciders, cheeses and sodas. Known nationally for our excellent service and quality products, we are open 7 days a week. We are located at 9129 Metric Blvd. right behind Pep Boys on the northbound service road of Hwy. 183 at Metric Blvd. Phone 512-300-2739.

You can also view instructional videos, and interviews, etc. at our YouTube page.

And The Winner Is…

Kegerator.com sponsored an employee beer brewing competition over the month of November, and the winner was recently announced. There were four participating teams:  Rainbow Ale, Brew Ha Ha’s, Holiday Five Pack, and Schlitz and Giggles.

All put up a good fight – but ultimately, the judges had to choose just one to be the winner. And how did they determine the best beer you ask?

We arranged for a panel of beer aficionados (the brew class instructor from Austin Homebrew and two unbiased company execs) to rank the brews. They came to an undisclosed location (AKA an upstairs conference room) for scoring each team’s batch based on the following four criteria:

  • Presentation
  • Aroma and head retention
  • Flavor
  • Overall perception

JB, our brew class instructor and actual beer expert, lead the tasting – giving Rick, our CEO, and Peter, one of our VPs, his insights throughout the process. Interestingly enough, the scores came out synonymously, which affirmed a true winner.  Phrases used to describe the victor included, “excellent, almost-commercial, and a true first place.”

The winner was Schlitz & Giggles’ Meadow Muffin, a medium-bodied brown ale with hints of chocolate and malt. Out of a possible 120 points, Meadow Muffin came in at a not-too-shabby 102.

 

Kegerator.com congratulated its first ever beer brewing competition winners with a trophy of a home brew keg and tickets to a local beer tasting event.

Debut Day! | Schlitz and Giggles

Today is a landmark day at the Schlitz & Giggles Brewery. Our new beer is making its debut on store shelves!

Meadow Muffin Brown Ale is a medium-bodied beer that has hints of chocolate and malt. Our secret ingredient adds that hint of spice, which gives a kick to the overall smooth flavor of the beer.

We decided on the name Meadow Muffin, because we wanted to give back. This brown ale is a tribute to the average American farmer who has gone through tough times. The American economic troubles have taken its toll on many Americans, but few have been hit harder than the farmer. So we have decided to donate 10% of all proceeds to the Certified Horticultural and Agricultural Farmer Fund (CHAFF) to help revive the fledging agricultural industry.

We are also rolling out each bottle with a specialized code on the label that could enter you into the drawing for a $1 million grand prize. You will see a QR code like the one below on each specially-marked bottle:

All you have to do is snap it and send it to WIN-BIG (946-244) for your chance to win!

We hope you have as much fun drinking our Meadow Muffin as we did making it and, as always, drink this Schlitz responsibly!

Final Day | Brew Ha Ha’s

The day has finally arrived… the judges will taste our beer today.  A couple members of our team did a taste test last night and gave Bee Caves Imperial Stout two thumbs up; let’s just hope the judges agree.  If not, well…at least our label looks amazing!!

Speaking of our team, the Brew Ha Ha’s FINALLY got a team picture this morning.  That’s Michael, Ashley, Kari and Stefanie.  Unfortunately, Blake was on vacation today so he’s missing from our photo.

Unique Piece | Schlitz and Giggles

Our Marketing campaign has hit America’s heartland! The following newspaper article was found on the Omaha World-Herald website (omaha.com):

Published Tuesday, November 30, 2011

Guerilla Marketing for Beer Draws Buzz

By Roem Niodar
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

In what some are calling the most bizarre marketing to ever be featured in Nebraska, a small farm about 20 miles outside Omaha is the site of a buzz-worthy billboard that asks more questions than it answers.

The Jones Farm & Ranch in neighboring Fremont, NE is currently playing host to the billboard planted seemingly overnight on a reserved plain of land. Featuring the text “What is Meadow Muffin?” the billboard is signed by Schlitz & Giggles, an up-and-coming American brewery that is fast becoming a household name.

Established in early 2011, this brewery’s fast-track to success can be traced back to its board of presidents. Known for their marketing prowess and willingness to take risks, these innovators are no doubt the ones behind this billboard, which should be no surprise to the business leaders who are familiar with the workings of the board.

With the brewery’s newest beer slated to make a December 9th launch, this is no doubt an attempt to create buzz for their highly-touted product. Industry leaders are speculating as to what this beer will be called, and this billboard gives a glimpse into what exactly this beer might be.

As a slang term, “meadow muffin” is used by farmers to describe animal waste left in the fields, most commonly by cows. While not terribly appealing to the ears, this question is further churning the rumor mill as to what the new Schlitz & Giggles beer flavor will be.

While many questions may still be in the air, most will not get them answered until December 9th. Asked about the billboard, Kevin Jones, owner of the Jones Farm & Ranch, said, “I may not like it on my field, but I will definitely be waiting to see what this new beer is going to be. I’ll be sure to pick up a six pack the day it comes out.”

Rainbow Ale Fermenting & Bottling

A lot has happened since the Rainbow Ale team has last checked in and the beer judging is rapidly approaching so we figured you were definitely due for a status check.  Our last post left off with our Honey Brown Rainbow Ale in the primary fermenter.  The beer stayed in the primary fermenter for about a week.  During this time it was important that we kept it in a cool non-drafty location and let the yeast go to work.  We opted to store it in a corner of my dining room.  The first 2 to 3 days the air lock that was on the top of the primary fermenting bucket was going crazy.

It was noticeably bubbling as our brew was releasing CO2 which had one of my dogs very curious about this new object in our house.

After the first few days the bubbling started getting less and less and then at about a week of it being in the primary fermenter it was time to move our ale to the secondary fermenter which was a glass carboy.  We found out from our friends at Austin Homebrew that using a two stage fermenting process allows for better clarity on our brew. To move the beer from the primary fermenting bucket to the carboy we used an auto siphon (which made it way easier than trying to siphon the old fashioned way because what I had in mind was more like siphoning gas from a car with plastic tubing and you adding suction without trying to get gas in your mouth).  The first step it to sterilize everything.  This is probably the longest part of the process, but is definitely key.  After I was done sterilizing, I put the empty carboy on the floor and made sure to gently place the primary fermenting bucket on the counter above the empty carboy.  When transporting the primary fermenting bucket, you want to make sure not to disturb the sediment that has accumulated on the bottom of the bucket.  This sediment is called trube.  The idea is to try to get as little of the trube as possible into the carboy while getting as much as the liquid (AKA beer) in the carboy.  A good tip is to move the primary fermenting bucket to the counter or whatever place you are going to use to transfer the beer the day before.  This will allow time for any sediment that you stirred up while moving it to settle before you begin the transfer.

I took the lid off the primary fermenting bucket, which can be tricky, but luckily there was a tool in our kit to help with this.

I then plunged the auto siphon about half-way in the bucket making sure not to hit the bottom so I don’t disturb the sediment.  I then gave the auto siphon 2-3 pumps and voila the beer was flowing from the primary fermenting bucket to the carboy!

         


Here the trube that was left in the primary fermenting bucket after the transfer:

Here is the full carboy after the transfer:

         

Once it was finished, I placed the air lock tightly on the top of the carboy and moved it back into my dining room for safe keeping and there it sat for about another week.  During this time the air lock bubbled less and less until finally it stopped bubbling all together.  At this point we knew it was time to transfer our Rainbow Honey Brown Ale from the carboy to the bottles.

Once again we moved the carboy to the counter making sure not to disturb the sediment or trube that had accumulated at the bottom.  This too can be done the day before the bottling process to ensure the least amount of sediment possible gets in the bottles.  At this point you are supposed to take a hydrometer reading to ensure your brew is ready to be bottled and the bottles won’t explode on you, however, with the excitement of bottling our brew, we completely forgot about this very important step until it was too late so we had to just cross our fingers and hop for the best.

The very important step that we didn’t forget was to sterilize everything.  We formed an assembly line as we sterilized the bottles.  Anthony took them out of the box and handed them to Scott who proceeded to dunk them in the sterilizing liquid in the bucket and then handed them to me, Kara, who placed them on my dishwasher rack to dry.

It is very important to have nothing touch anywhere the beer will touch after it has been sterilized so this required strategically place the bottles on the rack where they were balanced but nothing actually going inside them including the rack prongs.  This meant they were kind of just hanging on the rack.

While we were doing this, Michael heated up the priming sugar on the stove and transferred the beer from the carboy to the sterilized bottling bucket with the auto siphon making sure to get as little trube as possible during the transfer.  He then added the priming sugar mixture to the beer and slowly stirred it in by using figure 8 motions for 2 minutes.

By this time the bottles were drying out and we set the bottling bucket on the counter, hooked up the bottling hose to the spigot and we were ready to start bottling…or so we thought.  We turned on the spigot and noticed nothing was coming out in the hose and was instead leaking out of the sides of the spigot where it connects to the bucket.  Uh oh, it was time for us to think fast!!!  Thanks to the genious mind of Michael, we decided to syphon the beer from the bucket into the bottles instead of using the spigot.  You see, if we didn’t have the spigot on, the leak wasn’t that bad, it was only when the spigot was open that the leak became a gusher and we thought we were going to quickly sacrifice all of our scrumptious Rainbow Ale to my floor.

Though not ideal, we once again formed an assembly line and siphoned our beer into the bottles.  Anthony handed Michael the sterilized bottles.  Michael filled the bottles up.

Anthony handed me the full bottles.

I gave the filled up bottles to Scott who capped them.  To cap the bottles, we used a capping tool that came in our kit.  You place the cap on the bottle and then clamp down with the capping tool, give the bottle a quarter turn, and clamp down again with the capping tool again.

You then make sure the bottle has a circle dimple on the top, and if so, it is ready to be placed in the box for safe storage for another two weeks.

We bottled 48 beers but of course made sure that there was enough left over to give our brew a little taste tester.  At this point in the brewing process the beer will have the flavor of what it will taste like when it is complete, however, it will not yet be carbonated.  The carbonation occurs when the yeast eats the priming sugar which happens while in the bottle.  We ceremoniously gave a cheers and tasted the uncarbonated version of our brew and if we do say so ourselves…it’s delicious.

Hooray for Rainbow Ale the best honey brown ale around!!!!

Damage Control | Schlitz & Giggles

As many of you already know, we at Schlitz & Giggles are on the verge of announcing our new beer. It is due to be introduced in late November, and production has already begun at our plant. To ensure a quality product, part of our brewing process is taping various quality assurance videos, which remain safe within our company.

However, our QA videos were unfortunately leaked to the news media outlets, showing bits and pieces of the process we used to make our mystery beer. While we wish that this source had chosen not to leak these videos, we figured it would just be better to roll with the punches. Luckily, not enough of our secret was divulged to discontinue our late November launch, and so we decided to post those videos on our blog.

Please keep in mind that, while many of the various steps were meant to be top secret, most of them can also be used to brew your own style of beer at home.

This process is known as steeping (just like with tea). We use a muslin bag to pour our secret blend of barley and malts, and steep it in the bag of boiling hot water for about 20-30 minutes.

Our master brewers then let the mixture of the water and spices boil over an open flame for about 30 minutes.

The top-secret syrup is then added to the hot water, and the brewers make sure it is slowly poured in while stirring slowly to ensure it dissolves. Then the mixture boils for another 60 minutes. By the way, I recognize that dog… I may have just figured out who leaked this video!

Then, 15 minutes before the hour of boiling is up, the master brewers add our bittering hops blend. After about 10 minutes, they then add flavoring hops to give it that extra Schlitz kick.

Following the boiling and adding of flavors, our brewers rapidly cool the mixture down to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in just 15 minutes to ensure all of the flavors are not boiled out.

Our mixture is then added to the fermenter along with water to make the complete brew. In this case, they added it to make 5 gallons of beer.

This is the final result of the first half of brewing. The mixture stays in this fermenter for up to 2 weeks. The thing at the top is called an airlock, and it tells is if the brew is starting to ferment correctly.

These are the videos that were leaked, but luckily nothing incriminating came out of it. Now we just have to hope that no other video gets leaked… I think it’s about time we find the owner of that dog!

Related Posts: Company Homebrew Competition, Brewery Buzz | Schlitz & Giggles

Related Posts: Company Homebrew Competition

Brewery Buzz | Schlitz & Giggles

Welcome to Schlitz & Giggles Brewery, your one-stop shop for everything Schlitz! Our brewery was founded in 2011 with one focus in mind: to brew good Schlitz that everyone would want. Thanks to the executives of the brewery, we are on our way to achieve that goal!

Meet the Executive Team

Our brewery was founded by some of the most fascinating and brilliant people on the planet, and we are lucky to have them as our leaders. No one knows beer like they do, and they put everything they have into making the best beer. Blood, sweat, and tears went into making every perfect brew (well, not literally… at least we hope not).


Lana Anderson

Growing up in the streets of Harlem, Lana’s childhood was atypical compared to the average American girl. She was raised by her parents, two retired black ops commanders, to be one of the best ninjas the world has ever seen. At age 14, she entered the Strongman Competition in South Africa and, after competing 3 straight days in a champion tug-of-war match, she came up victorious. She spent most of her adult life meditating in a dojo in South Korea, stopping only to eat, drink, and fight crime. To this day, her name still strikes fear into the minds of the world’s most notorious criminals… and squirrels.

 


Rudy Cantu

Rudy’s mysterious background prevents us from really knowing the man behind the hair, but here is what our contacts at the CIA were able to dig up. Legend has it that Rudy was raised by a pack of mangy wolves somewhere deep in the valleys surrounding the Weisshorn mountain of Switzerland. His upbringing forced him into a state of continuous alert and constant vigilance, allowing him to develop superhuman traits like 20/10 vision and the ability to leap 20 yards with little effort. Trained by the Columbian military at the ripe age of 11, Rudy became one of the most sought-after demolition experts in the Western hemisphere.

 


Jeff Kaller

Jeff is the definition of a “manly man.” Seriously, look it up. His picture is right next to the words “manly man” in Webster’s dictionary. Deep in the Everglades of southern Florida, Jeff, minutes after being born, went to work on building a log cabin for him and his family. The laborious project took all of 30 minutes to complete, and Jeff was sleeping in his own toddler suite by the end of the night. Growing up, he always got the ladies and it is rumored that he was unable to carry credit cards because his personality was so magnetic. School was a breeze for him: by 18 he was able to speak fluent French in Russian and his photographic memory is in HD.

 


Todd Miller

As a cryogenically frozen test tube baby, Todd was raised by the aboriginal Australian people on the outskirts of the Great Victorian Desert. By the age of 23, he was the first and only multi-sport athlete to win championships and MVP titles in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, and WWE. As a runner, his world record speed for the 100 meter dash came in at 1.2 seconds – 23.3 seconds faster than the time he beat. During his teenage years, Todd spent his free time dabbling in various hobbies, including watercolors, basket weaving, and underwater shark fighting.

 


Darin Moore

One of the most intelligent men of the last 500 years, Darin’s keen intellect helped him in his childhood when he gained the highest honor at any higher education institution, a Doctorate in Brewery Science, at the age of 15. Working to invent several uses for his favorite liquid, he built and patented the beer-powered flying car in hopes of saving the world’s energy sources from depletion. At 21, he co-founded a secret government program called SNASA (Secret NASA) designed to launch the first American onto the surface of the moon (not the moon that everyone knows, but instead a secret moon that orbits the Earth invisible to the naked eye).

 

 

Related Posts: Company Homebrew Competition

Introducing The Holiday Five Pack

The Holiday Five Pack, if you’re not aware, is taken from the following Heineken commercial:

We are big fans of the advert and, since there are 5 of us, it made perfect sense for a team name. Holiday Five Pack consists of Melanie, Christine, Danielle, Linda and Titus.

Intimidated yet?

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to brew a dark beer because 1) the competition is being judged in December, so a light beer doesn’t work as well, and 2) Austin has hard water that gives off a slight bitterness and lends itself well to a dark brew. In the end, we chose to make a vanilla porter. Mmm.

The next step was to come up with a name for our beer. There were a few suggestions tossed around, including the clever “Pppporterface,” but Linda was dead set on including something relating to a wolf in the title. Why? We didn’t know for sure, but after we found this t-shirt at Austin Homebrew Supply, we knew it must be fate:

So we went back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, it seemed like every name we came up with was already taken. Howling Wolf? Taken.  Howling Wolf Mustache Beer? Taken. Obviously, we weren’t nearly as creative as we thought. We discussed the idea a bit more and decided the title should have some sophistication to it, then it came to us:

Image of the wolf was graciously provided by Jeremy of Sir Critter. It is only appropriate that he was inebriated when he came up with the idea. Thank you Jeremy. We hope to use the above image to print off labels for our bottles. Be sure to stay tuned for future posts on our brewing and bottling process. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of our team photo shoot outtakes.

[nggallery id=3]

Related Posts: Company Homebrew Competition