Brewing your own beer
Popping open a cold beer at the end of the day is one of life’s pleasures, but popping open a cold homebrewed beer makes that pleasure even more deserved.
Brewing your own beer is surprisingly easy, even in a small city apartment, and can be less expensive than picking up a six-pack at a bodega.
Setting up shop
Homebrewers Erica Shea and Stephen Valand founded the Brooklyn Brew Shop last summer to meet a problem many city beer makers face: tiny apartments and lack of supply shops.
Selling at markets like Brooklyn Flea as well as online, they’ve developed a brew kit that only takes up about one square foot.
The one-gallon kit is essentially a large glass jug and a jumble of plastic tubing. Fortunately for the novice, it comes with step-by-step instructions. The Brooklyn Brew Shop also sells brewing grains they’ve developed. A kit and a bag of grain, with hops and yeast, costs $40 (a bag of grain without the kit is $10).
But they’re not the only game in town, Brooklyn Homebrew (brooklyn-homebrew.com) also sells several kits, at a wide range of prices (starting at $40).
Steps to Success
The multi-step process takes at least a month. Most of that time is just waiting, though.
1. Sanitation is vital. Everything that touches the beer must be clean or the beer may end up tasting funny. Keep a spray bottle of sanitizer handy, and spritz liberally.
2. “Mashing in” is the first step, which involves cooking the grain in 1 and ¾ quarts of water for an hour at a 144-152 degrees and then up to 170 degrees (thermometer is included). .The grain is strained, and then a gallon of water is poured over the mash. The liquid collected is called the “wort,” which will become the beer. The wort is boiled for another hour. The hops and any flavors are added during that hour.
3. After the wort has cooled, it’s funneled into the glass jug and yeast is added. Then, the beer is stored in the jug in a dark, cool place.
4. Two weeks later, the sugar is added and the brew is bottled (you’ll want to use empty, resealable bottles — Grolsch ones are good).
5.In another two weeks, the beer is ready to drink.
Relax with the homebrew
Homebrewing is “crazy simple,” said Stephen Crumb, who has been making beer in his Clinton Hill apartment for five years.
He used to be much more aware of temperature and other factors. Now he doesn’t sweat every detail.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the satisfaction of popping the top on a tasty homebrew.
Do’s and Don’ts from the Brooklyn Brew Shop
Brew with grain not artificial syrup
Share with friends
Use fake fruit or fake sugars
Store bottles on the radiator
Drink it before it's done