Fast forward to the beginning of 2015. My wonderful wife had procured a three-gallon stainless steel stock pot for me some months back and I had made quite a few different turkey and chicken broths therein. It dawned on me that I ought to try brewing my own beer since I have a natural proclivity for cooking and enjoy doing so. With advice from the rest of the Brew Crew and a few other brewers I know, I went with Porter Pounder to Southwest Grape and Grain and procured the necessary equipment for brewing. As it turns out, for the basics of doing extract brewing you can purchase all of the necessary items for around $200, including your first batch.In honor of my German heritage (among many others), I chose to do a dunkelweizen for my first batch. The excitement of brewing my first batch was just outstanding, and the resulting beer, which turned out better than I imagined, is a testament to what I learned from Porter Pounder and others alike. The second batch was an oatmeal stout into which I added cold-brewed coffee. This one taught me a few lessons about stouts and yeast strains. Mrs. Solo and I followed the kit instructions to the letter and were surprised at the light color of the beer. This was compounded when the brew crashed early and needed a second yeast pitch and a heater (this was in March) to get to the target gravity. One suggestion I received was to steep my grains for longer than the suggested time by about two fold for dark brews and by about half for lighter brews to get maximum flavor and proper color when using extract primarily and only a portion of grain. Having tried this out, it is definitely helpful if one is brewing extract as my later brews have turned out better and better. On the topic of yeasts, be sure to check what temperature range your yeast likes before pitching as that will help to avoid early crashes such as I experienced. The most important things I learned from these first two batches were cleanliness is godliness (so far I haven’t had a single contaminated batch), knowing the sweet spot on your stove or burner is paramount, knowing which styles demand racking for clarity, and being open to experimentation since that’s where you make a beer your own. That’s all for this time, back in a week with more tales of brewing so y’all just chill, until the next episode. (I can neither confirm nor deny that Dre and Snoop have wormed their way back into the typical metal mayhem of my usual playlists.)
Brew on and Prost!
— Franz Solo