Phase 2 Home Brew

I’m ready to move on from small batches to larger batches of home brew.  I’ve had the kegerator for a while.  It came with a dual pressure gauge CO2 tank, but my local beer distributor said something about a two week waiting period to fill it, so I haven’t bothered.  They have prefilled ones I can use, but I have to put a deposit on them, just like I would on a prefilled keg.  When I do that, I can at least hook up the brew to one of the taps.  I’d rather have them fill my own 5 lb. tank for $11 or $12, and not have to plunk down the deposit.

Mostly, I’ve just used the kegerator as a fridge for bottled beer.  It’s time to up the game.  Brewing small batches, and bottling them, is useful for bringing them outside in warmer weather.  But, when I brew a 5 gal. batch, it really is easier to keg it in the corny than bottle two-plus cases.  I have a really old bottle capper, probably from the ’30s, and a source for bulk unused, uncrimped caps for about three cents apiece, which is reasonable for a home brewer.

The funniest thing about the corny keg is that when I first got it, used, in really good shape, for a very reasonable price, it still smelled like cola inside.  Yuck!  Well, it has to be cleaned and disinfected between each use, anyway.

This time of year, bottling the stuff can be more trouble than it’s worth, when nobody’s going to take one outside.  It’s no bigger an issue to go into the basement rec room to pour one on tap than to get one from the main kitchen’s fridge.  If I come up with a batch that’s really good, I might consider bottling it, so I can bring a case out to MN in May.  If we still have it in the keg, and we want to bring some outdoors, we can always fill a growler.

My other half’s parents used to brew their own beer in MN.  Where they lived, out in the sticks, they could pick up all the ingredients at their local grocery store.  I can’t do that, but they’re easy enough to find online, for fair prices.  Brewing a 5 gal. batch isn’t as cheap as buying a case of swill, but it’s not much more expensive, once you have all the equipment to do it, and just need to order ingredients.

I can use the same equipment to make raspberry or blackberry wine this summer, if I want to try my hand at that.  We have enough of those berries growing wild on our property.  My B-I-L makes fantastic raspberry wine that won a state award, but I don’t know how to do it.  His first ever batch was harsh, but he got it right the next time, and forevermore.  We’d need 750ml bottles, and corks, but it wouldn’t have to carbonate.  We could just keep the bottles from a case, and get new corks.  He also tried making beer, once that I know of, and it was harsh, so I don’t think he ever tried again.  He should, because he has the equipment to test for temperature, sugar content, and an estimated ABV.

A brew that’s balanced between hoppy and malty suits my taste for general consumption.  On the malty end, Smutty Nose porter is good, but is my limit.  A stout is … blecch!  On the hoppy side, some IPAs test my limit.  I’d rather have a witbier than an IPA.  Most versions of ales taste fine to me.  It all comes down to what you like, I suppose.  *shrug*


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