What did I get myself into? I'm not quite sure how it happened, but what started out as a leisurely conversation about the possibility of home brewing quickly turned into a reality. I'm just messing around :). For my birthday, my beautiful bride bought me my very own home brewing kit! Now I'm not a beer connoisseur or anything, but I think MJ noticed the recent increase in my beer intake (plus the fact that I like experimenting with recipes and tinkering with my hands) so she thoughtfully purchased this for me. And thus, a new hobby was born.
I read through the introduction manual a few times, acquainted myself with all the beer-making gadgets, and finally determined I was ready to go. Just to be on the safe side, I also chatted with one of my coworkers who home brews and studied my first recipe forwards and backwards. With it being the holiday season and all, I felt it only appropriate to start with a holiday ale. Upon sharing this decision with my coworker, however, he chuckled to himself a little and muttered...girly beer. Oh well...I stand by my choice and can't wait to see how things turn out. My only regret is that the final product won't be ready for our annual dumpling fest.
I brought the water in my HUGE pot to a boil and away we went! The aroma of the soaking grains soon filled the house and with it, my nerves lessened...just the slightest bit. As excited as I was on this day, my nerves were equally as ramped up at the fear of screwing up. One by one the ingredients went in - extra pale extract, bittering hops, spice pack, and aroma hops. I was feeling pretty good about how things were progressing, and then it was time to cool the wort. I sincerely thought I was prepared for the chore ahead, as I had purchased 3 bags of ice to help with the process, but it was, well...let's just say it was a learning experience ;). In went the first bag of ice into the sink...oops...maybe I should've put the drain stopper in first!! After getting that fixed, I grabbed the pot and placed it in the sink. Let me rephrase that - I got the pot in as far as the handles, which placed the pot a couple of inches ABOVE the ice! My mind was reeling. In went the next bag of ice. The pot was still too high. In went my last bag and some cold water. Finally, I was able to submerge a decent portion of the pot in the ice bath. That's the abbreviated version of my wort-cooling experience, but we (yes, I was in need of MJ's assistance through the ordeal) did get it down to the appropriate temperature and transferred it to the primary fermenter.
I added the necessary additional water, sprinkled in the yeast, and shut the lid to let the magic happen.
And the waiting game continues. There was a lot of activity in the airlock the first few days, but things have definitely slowed down. Hopefully the yeast are still doing their thing (fingers crossed). We'll know for certain in a couple of days. Stay tuned...