Thursday, July 8, 2010


I used to work at F.H. Steinbart Co. (hi everyone!), which sells home brewing and wine making equipment and ingredients. Wine, beer, vinegar, cider, kombucha, sake, mead-so much fermentation, so many different ingredients to play with and with a little forethought soooooooo easy to do. I should know, I have over 6 cases of Hard Cider alone that I've made and we won't even start on how many cases of wine I have. Sigh, so easy to make-not nearly enough people to drink it.

The most important factor whether you are brewing, baking, or cooking something is

If you want something you make to turn out somewhat tasty then you had darn well better pay attention to the sanitation side of things otherwise it could all be for naught.

To me-making wine and beer go hand in hand with baking, making your own preserves, pickling (my mouth waters at the thought of homemade sauerkraut-so good), making bread, pretty much any home cooking in general.
For one, you get a real sense of the ingredients that you are working with; how ripe they are, the aroma and colour of them, the weight of them in your hand. Secondly, you're more careful about those ingredients. A lot of home winemakers I know source their own grapes from some of the regional wineries when they can buy it or they grow some of their own. It's a little harder to grown the amount of grain you need for home brewing (just due to lack of space for most people) but I have met some people who have just because they could, though the specialty grains available for home brewing are generally of a pretty high quality.
Tip for home brewers: Growing your own hops can be really nice or if you want some special variety, check for fresh loose leaf hops at your local home brew shop. They also work well as potpourri (at least I think so).

Most of the work in home brewing and wine making is cleaning and waiting. Once everything is combined, you let it sit and do it's thing (fermenting that is), then your work boils down to waiting to let things clarify (settle down), racking (transferring from one container to another SANITIZED!!! container), and waiting patiently for your brew to be done-NOTE: This is the hardest part by far; think of all of the people from whom you've heard stories of bottles blowing up or corks/caps popping off when the weather warms up just a little. That means that whatever you were making hadn't fermented out enough before you caught the "I must bottle everything in sight" bug. Many times you can leave whatever you are making in bulk after a few rackings and with proper airlock attention just let it hang out until you are in the mood to deal with it. Really, you can.

General time line for home brewing activities: Mead and Sake take forever and a day (or sometimes it just feels that way, maybe you could subtract a day if you are feeling wild and crazy).
Wine can take months up to several years depending on what you are making.
Beer generally takes a few months but again it depends on the type you are brewing.
Soda takes a few weeks and you can use real fruit or there a lot of flavour varieties to choose from and you can even combine flavours to make new ones, example: orange extract and cream extract combined give you Orange Cream soda-mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Though for some reason, it is really hard to get Root beer to carbonate if you use a mix-still haven't quite figured out why.
Anyhow, happy brewing to all.

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