Last weekend I cooked up my 3rd-ever homebrewed beer. This time I chose a tasty selection from the annals of The Joy of Home Brewing, Vagabond Gingered Ale. A “deliciously dark, full-bodied ale, with the gentle essence of fresh ginger…uniquely satisfying for the vagabond brewers who journey to places that have no boundaries” (The Joy of Home Brewing, p 214).
I did pretty well with this batch – kept my temps in the right place and tried a couple of new/better steps in the process, including:
- Used full-leaf dried hops
- Strained the hot wort (the concoction in the pot on the stove is wort, not beer yet!) into a strainer, which quickly filled with hops, making a much more effective strain (less bits in your fermenting beer means clearer beer, less “odd” tastes
- Chilled the wort by dropping a few good handfuls of ice into my sparging bucket. Chilling the wort from a boil down to under 78 degrees as fast as possible is CRITICAL to make sure you don’t get contaminated beer! Thanks be to Alton Brown’s Good Brew on that one…
But… there is a possibility I messed this one up a little! I accidentally added the wrong kind of beer yeast to the fermenter the first time – and it might have been too old as well! After a day and no activity in the fermenter, I went and got the right kind of yeast (American Ale yeast, not Weizen yeast) and pitched it in the fermenter. Here we are almost 5 days later and it is bubblin’ along in my bathtub. I’m not sure what will happen with two different strains of yeast in there, but if the first one was dead, we should be OK, right? Relax…
As I mentioned, I got my recipe from The Joy of Home Brewing a book considered by many to be the “Bible of Homebrewing”. Written by homebrew legend Charlie Papazian, it does for brewing beer what Alton Brown does for food in his Good Eats program on the Food Network. A good amount of theory, a good amount of wisdom and a heaping helping of quirky humor that makes it a joy to read. Not just a list of ingredients and temperatures. I’ve only homebrewed 3 times now, but my Joy Of Home Brewing is already dog-eared. Charlie’s mantra throughout the book is “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew!”
I took some photos of the process (edited for time) and you can view them in the 2008.02.17 – Vagabond Gingered Ale gallery. If you are interested in homebrewing, I suggest you take a look at HowToBrew.com, an excellent resource. It’s separated into four sections, the first three being beer-making at three different difficulty levels. The last two beers I’ve done were “intermediate”, or “Section 2 – Brewing Your First Extract and Specialty Grain Beer”.