Capital Improvements: Beer Edition

This year we’ve been putting a little cash into capital improvements here at Apartment Farm. We got ourselves a mini canning rack to round out our water bath canning supplies, and purchased a pressure canner so we can put up stocks, veg and meat. We’re pretty well set on the food preservation side of things, though a food dehydrator may end up on wish list at some point too. Where we’ve been lacking is in the beverage department. I’ve made wine before, but don’t  have my own equipment. And we’ve been interested in beer for awhile. So we finally bit the bullet –

It’s the bare bones of brewing equipment, and I opted to get a one gallon jug instead of a five gallon carboy because I am also the proud owner of Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book, which showcases great recipes for small batch beer. I like the idea of doing small batches for a couple of reasons – you can tuck a one gallon jug anywhere, you can try out all kinds of recipes quickly and you get about a six pack of beer from the gallon, so you’re not going to get tired of it or waste a ton if it doesn’t come out right.

The grain in the above photo is for the World’s Greatest Dad brown ale in the book. We figured it would be a good beer to start with. In the meantime, we’ve also picked up another jug so we can do two beers at a time, as well as ingredients to make an American Red (not in the book – I found a good recipe online at Home Brew Talk that I scaled down) and a chestnut brown ale (from the book) that I plan to do with hazelnuts.

We actually had our first brew day yesterday, but didn’t take any pictures because we just needed to get familiar with the process, but it was pretty amazing! It took us about two and a half hours to make the beer and get it into the jug to ferment for about two weeks. Now that I’m feeling a bit more confident of the process, I’ll be sure to do a post soon on how easy small batch brewing is. You don’t need lots of fancy equipment or fluency in jargon to get the ball rolling. That’s what I like about the Brooklyn Brew Shop book – it really helps demystify brewing and breaks it down to what it is – which is basically just like cooking. With a basic understanding of the process and a good recipe, you can do anything in the kitchen!