My New Years Resolution was to be a better gift giver. As Mark has taught me over the years, this essentially means to just be a better listener. Over the few months before Mark’s birthday in March, I started to notice how much he was mentioning wanting to learn to brew his own beer. Tada! I listened, and Mark’s birthday present was decided.
Getting into beer brewing is no task for the lazy. As I did research I realized how much equipment that I’d need to purchase just for him to “give it a try,” and potentially not like it or brew a terrible bucket of beer. I had stumbled across Craft a Brew a while back on Huckberry, and it came to mind as I scrolled and skimmed site after site, post after post, about “Beer Brewing for Beginners.” A Brew Your Own Beer box seemed to be the best route to have Mark try his first few batches.
Based in Orlando, Craft a Brew strives to turn “beer lovers into beer brewers and to have customers make the best possible beer in their own kitchen on their first attempt.” If Mark could read (which, by the way, he totally can!), then he could create a drinkable beer.
Mark is now going to take over with his experience! Spoiler alert: the beer is really, really good.
My buddy Tyler has also been wanting to brew beer, so I thought it’d be a fun thing to tackle together. With only one brew kit but two recipes, we had to wait a while in between the brew processes. We made the Sixpoint Resin IIPA first, followed by the American Pale Ale.
The Craft a Brew instructions were clear and concise. After following the steps once, it was easier the second time and cut the overall brew time by 15-20 minutes.
At one point in the brewing process, you’re watching a pot for about an hour which gives you time to talk while enjoying someone else’s beer while you wait. The process from start to finish is truly a waiting game, so it was fun to have someone to check in with throughout the entire process and be excited about the result together.
Tip: Make sure you have plenty of cheese cloth to speed the process of straining the wort to decrease the amount of sediment that makes it into the bottles.
More waiting. The beer sits in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Then, you bottle it and it sits in the same place for two more weeks. We chose to save previously used bottles from our recycling can, sanitize and use their Beer Bottle Capping Kit. After that, 24 hours in the fridge before you can crack it open.
Overall, my first brewing process went better than I expected. The steps were clear and the Craft a Brew recipes produced beer very similar to beer I’d buy. Surprisingly, we all preferred the Pale Ale over the Double IPA. Both had a “Belgium-y” taste but it worked with the hops. We’ve already finished ’em all…
If there was one thing I would change about the experience, it would be making beer in larger quantities. It’s a lot of time for a little quantity. We were able to get 8-9 beers out of the one gallon recipe and for the two hours it took, we’d wished we had five gallons to enjoy. I would absolutely do it again in five gallon or larger quantities, but would still recommend this route as a great way to introduce yourself to the process!
Thanks to Craft a Brew for recommending and hooking us up with the American Pale Ale recipe. Below is what I got for Mark to get him started, and a few other things we recommend if you don’t have them.
- Sixpoint Brewery’s Resin IIPA Beer Kit.
- 1-Gallon carboy
- Racking Cane
- Rubber Stopper
- Transfer tubing and thumb clamp
- Guide to Craft Brewing
- Beer Bottle Capping Kit (if you want to reuse your own bottles, which we did). If not, you can grab their Deluxe Bottling Kit.
- 2-Gallon Brew Kettle.
- Carboy brush. We really wish we had this because cleaning that jug out was a challenge.