It’s fall, and everyone wants to bake stuff. I can’t complain about the constant stream of cookies and pies, but I also think there’s something else everyone should be doing in the kitchen (spoiler: it’s not sex on the counter).
Brewing beer is just as easy as baking brownies. In an hour you can make five gallons! Better yet, there are only three ingredients besides besides water: hops, malt, and yeast. The actual brewing procedure is pretty much exactly like making soup: done on the stove in a giant pot. It’s even easier than making soup, though, because you don’t have to cut anything up. After the soup stage, you pour it into a bucket and leave it alone for three weeks. During this time, the yeast transforms the brew from sludge that tastes like leaves into beer. Yes, people get fancy with the equipment and the ingredients, but all you really need is a bucket with an airlock.
I acquired my knowledge of brewing in high school. I bought Home Brewing for Dummies on a whim, and it taught me the basics. Lesson one: sanitize everything thoroughly before you start; bacteria can make your beer taste terrible. The good news on this score was that no matter how badly I botched the process, the beer wouldn’t be poisonous. Reassured that I wouldn’t kill myself by accident, I set out to buy the supplies. There were a few issues here: the nearest brewing supply store was a half hour drive from my house, and I didn’t have my driver’s license yet (lol). I would have to order the supplies online, but my bank account was still attached to my parents’–they could see all my transactions. I bypassed this problem by buying Visa gift cards with my lunch money and using them to order the goods. I shipped the order to a friend’s house so my mom couldn’t intercept it. When everything arrived, I picked it up while my parents were out to dinner and stashed it in the basement, where the heaps of clutter would camouflage it. After that, I waited for an open house.
My moment finally came months later when my parents went away for the weekend. With my little brother serving as my assistant, I sanitized everything with bleach. Then, I poured the water, hops, and malt extract into our biggest pot, fired up the stove, and started stirring.
Our biggest pot wasn’t big enough. Within minutes the brew threatened to boil over. Standing over the stove, stirring frantically, I shouted orders to my brother, who ran back and forth getting more bowls to pour off some of the mixture. A very stressful half hour and an enormous, sticky mess later, we poured the brew into the bucket, sprinkled the yeast on, sealed it, and hid it back in the basement.
A month or so later, my friends and I set out to drink the beer on a friday afternoon. I had to use it all at once, because I had no bottling system. I’ll spare you the details, but it was delicious and approximately 10% alcohol. I’d recommend the experience to everyone.
Tl;dr: Brewing is the new baking. I’m calling it.