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"But really, if you can make tea, then you can make beer."
August 15, 2014 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Meet craft brewers, home brewing enthusiasts, bartenders in "Craft Beer – A Hopumentary", which focuses on California. [YT]

Want more? How about "Beer Culture", a documentary about the craft brew scene in Colorado.

The basics: How It's Made: Beer (Science Channel)

The Guardian reports that, "Britain is now firmly in the grip of its own craft beer revolution." and that "the momentum is unstoppable."

How To Brew Your Own Beer with Bonnie (for less than $2 a 6-Pack!) [YT]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (32 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really need to get back into brewing. I did a lot back in the late eighties and early nineties but haven't touched it in at least a decade now. Still have five or six cases of 16oz heavy-duty refillable bar bottles, three carboys, a capper and a copper coil immersion cooler that I built twenty years ago. Brewing season is coming up in a few months, I should start making some plans.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


Since this is the 979th beer thread on Metafilter this year, and every time someone posts one I have an intense hankering* for a pint, the least you can do is add me on Untappd so I can see what you're all drinking. Username same as here/in town.

*sidenote: the most intense jonesing for a beer I've ever had was after leaving the theater from watching World's End: quite possibly the most intense and ironic beerwashing I've ever had
posted by selfnoise at 11:30 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


BTW we have moved on from the brewpub and specialty bar phase of craft brewing fever in my neck of the woods and onto the beer cellar, where you can buy really fancy beer for like 6 bucks per 12oz bottle. I'm sure the next phase will also be delicious/result in my extreme penury.
posted by selfnoise at 11:36 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


The place we moved into is too small now, but when we have a larger home again, I plan on restarting my learning to make my own beer. Basically I am obsessed with craft beer/brewing/anything involving it. I am seriously considering pursuing becoming a cicerone.

In sort of related news, Shepherd and I's friend, Dale Wood, is a chemistry professor at Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, QC and was featured on the radio earlier this year for beginning one of the only brewing/beer courses in Eastern Canada.
posted by Kitteh at 11:47 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


The thing that made beer-making a level tougher for me: getting a dog. Whenever I bottle, it's a constant battle to keep her from wandering over to check out the amazing smells coming out of the bottles before I can cap them. I don't think I've served anyone a dog drool brew yet, but I make no promises.
posted by COBRA! at 11:52 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Given North America's legendary ability to make tea properly, the whole craft beer thing is neatly explained.
posted by scruss at 11:53 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]


the least you can do is add me on Untappd so I can see what you're all drinking. Username same as here/in town.

Can we make this a thing?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:54 AM on August 15


Is craft beer cultivating a new British drinker found nursing pricey halves all night? Wells thinks not, predicting that prices will stabilise: "It's a young industry, there's a maturation process. We have a distinct beer culture in this country. We're pint drinkers."

The "we're pint drinkers" attitude can throw a wet blanket on the proliferation of tasty craft beers, because many of these are best sipped in half-pint quantities, thereby justifying a higher price. A rich, mouthy, meaty craft beer doesn't lend itself to quaffing more than a few pints at a sitting. If you've got a cast iron liver, don't worry: The high-ABV content insures that you'll get a sufficient buzz for your money.

There are few things more refreshing, from the perspective of a drinker from across the pond, than a traditional British cask ale served in a non-chilled glass at room temperature. But craft beers, especially in their American incarnation, are more about sipping and savoring. They'll make a fine complement to old-school cask ales in England, and both may even benefit from the cross-pollination of marketing ideas, brewing techniques and recipes.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:11 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "the least you can do is add me on Untappd so I can see what you're all drinking. Username same as here/in town.

Can we make this a thing?
"

It's already on the Mefi Social Explorer
posted by octothorpe at 12:16 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


But craft beers, especially in their American incarnation, are more about sipping and savoring.

Eh, that may be a regional thing. I just moved from San Diego, where craft beers are a huge thing, and every brewery in town (somewhere around 90 last I checked) made beers that were pint-friendly for the most part. They also would have a cask seasoned something or other served in a tulip glass, but only one or two of those out of the 10 or 20 being sold at any one time. At least in San Diego, IPAs are the huge thing and every brewery seems to make two or three different versions.

That said, I just moved to Wisconsin and visited the Leinenkugel brewery last weekend, where they don't even sell their own beer. We went in wondering where to get a growler and ended up just getting a couple T-shirts, but at least we got 5 taster size things for free.
posted by LionIndex at 12:37 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Craft beer in America seems like it's about everything. I mean, on the one hand you have beers named "palate wrecker" and sky-high ABVS, and on the other hand a whole legion of beers that advertise themselves as "crushable". So you can point to what's hot or trendy in brewing but there's an incredible variety for sale coast to coast.
posted by selfnoise at 12:42 PM on August 15


The fact that there's so much good beer available now is what's kept my wife and I from doing much brewing. We buy beer and wine, but we make mead. It's easy to make and it's hard to find high quality dry meads commercially.

But I'm still going to have a beer or two tonight....
posted by maurice at 1:06 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Craft beer in America seems like it's about everything...

Yeah, I feel the same way. Portland, and the northwest in general, has a reputation for insane ABV and IBU's. But the crazy insane brews are really still kind of hard to find. The good stuff rises to the top, and is readily available. I love being able to cruise by a mini-mart around here (not all of them, but there are quite a few like this) and find a phenomenal selection of bombers for sale. Our grocery stores around here are really feeling the push to have good beer selections because of places like Whole Foods and New Seasons. Its pretty great.

The coolest part about brewing at home is that you get the freedom to fuck around. There's a book i've reccomended on several askmes and on the blue a couple times, but Beer Craft is a really gear-averse guide to making 1 gallon batches. Its great for learning because if you fuck up, its only a gallon. Get your brew-legs under you with a setup like this, and stepping up to a larger batch is really easy. They focus on all-grain batches, and actually explain to you what your doing and why. Super modular recipes, and loads of good advice. It is the best resource for learning to brew i've run into yet. I started doing big 5 gal batches, but then let it slide for a few months. I found this book and ended up doing batch after batch in really fast succession.

I mean, I was able to make a couple coriander-ginger beers that are super sessionable; they only clock in at like 4% abv or so. They're basically soda, but taste pretty solid with anything grilled. Nice snap.

We also make a 'house kolsch' which is mega cheap, super satisfying, and has a pretty reasonable abv. Having one or two solid beer recipes you feel comfortable with, just to have around the house is a pretty phenomenal feeling.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:17 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]


I was having a brew with a good friend recently and we discussed how we're really living in a golden age of brewing. That what we know as "beer" is so utterly different from what our fathers knew as beer, even a mere 30 years ago.

I recently discovered a nice local brew that I've put in my regular rotation here at home, Fountain Square Brewing's Working Man's Pilsner. It's an all-malt lager that's probably pretty close to how beer tasted back before the big brewers discovered rice and corn adjuncts. Probably similar to what my great-grandfather knew as "beer." My first impression is that it tasted...nostalgic. A really solid session brew.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:18 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Brewing season is coming up in a few months

brewing seems like something I'd want to do but I didn't even realize there was a season for it. I think I should probably do a bit of reading

Thorzad, speaking of microbrewed pilsners, a couple of weeks ago I had one from Phillips Brewing in Victoria called Elsinore, which is great because it's Canadian and the same name as the beer Bob & Doug drank in Strange Brew. I am all for microbrewed pilsners in the summer, damn it was nice. Those guys also make the spiciest ginger beer (as in beer with ginger, not the soda pop), it's excellent.
posted by Hoopo at 2:14 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Brewing beer really scratches a lot of itches for me. It's like cooking, farming, biology and chemistry all rolled into one.

I feel weird if my carboys are empty, and I'm currently considering buying a second pair so I can have a "duel pipeline." I hope to build up to a point to start breeding my own yeast strains, see if I can improve on WLP351 (I kid, I brewed a weizenbock with it and it gave it a slight tart character that knocked it into the stratosphere). I've moved into ciders too, and I plan on trying a perry.

The weirdest thing of all, I don't drink much. I might have one beer a week, and that's a lot for me. I can go months without having any.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:18 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


brewing seems like something I'd want to do but I didn't even realize there was a season for it.

It's just no fun sitting next to 6 gallons of boiling wort and a turkey fryer when it's 90 degrees outside.
posted by peeedro at 2:18 PM on August 15


I love the amazing variety of craft beer available these days, but my wallet does not, which is why I started brewing my own a few years ago.
posted by freakazoid at 4:05 PM on August 15


I used to go with "if you can cook spaghetti you can brew beer" but the sentiment is the same. The work ain't complex; it's that the barriers to entry are high - but those have come down dramatically since I was kicking around the idea if starting a brewery in the late 90s.
posted by nickmark at 4:16 PM on August 15


brewing seems like something I'd want to do but I didn't even realize there was a season for it.

Well, you can brew anytime. But as it has been mentioned, you're usually sitting in your kitchen or outside boiling off the wort for an hour to an hour and a half or so.

The other part of beer brewing's 'seasonality' is just the temperatures it ferments best at. Most ales do best between 60-70 degrees, so this is spring and fall for most areas of the US. If you've routinely got 80+ temps, you're flavors are going to be a bit off. There are exceptions to this (mmmm, saison yeast does great anywhere from 70-90 degrees, and can be fantasssstic if executed properly).

If you're not gear averse, you can buy something along these lines and hook it up to a heating pad, wrapped around your beer as it ferments. This opens up wintertime as a valid way to brew. I'll usually daisy-chain a couple heating pads together on a surge protector so I can keep more than 1 carboy going at once.

But yes, summertime brewing is actually almost the worst, and it doesn't necessarily turn out that great unless you've got an awesome basement that sticks below 70.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:40 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


As a lapsed homebrewer: I fairly strongly disagree with "as easy as making tea".

Brewing is time-consuming; it involves handling large, heavy quantities of boiling hot and very sticky liquid; it requires quite a lot of equipment; and it requires detailed and diligent attention to sterility to prevent contamination from ruining a batch.

And that's just for brewing from malt extract; brewing from grain requires a whole further set of equipment and time-and-temperature-sensitive processes.

That said, furnace.heart's recommendation appeals to me:

Beer Craft is a really gear-averse guide to making 1 gallon batches. Its great for learning because if you fuck up, its only a gallon.

Small batches! That also sounds great for experimenting with recipes and styles. For me the biggest problem with brewing 5-gallon batches were the ones which came out OK-but-not-great: not bad enough to justify tipping them down the drain, but not good enough that drinking your way through them doesn't feel like a bit of a slog.

also, The Power Nap:

Brewing beer really scratches a lot of itches for me. It's like cooking, farming, biology and chemistry all rolled into one.

That's how I remember it too: it's a fascinating transformative process. Yeast is wonderfully organic stuff to watch working.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:53 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


As a lapsed homebrewer: I fairly strongly disagree with "as easy as making tea".
...
brewing from grain requires a whole further set of equipment and time-and-temperature-sensitive processes.


Eh, it all depends on how fancy you want to be. If you want to make ale the way it used to be made for centuries before it got all gussied up with that newfangled continental contaminant additive called hops, then it really is about as complicated as making tea, even from grain.

You put coarsely ground grain in a brew bag. You boil some water. You put the bag in the water. You wrap it in towels to keep the heat in and let it sit for several hours. You take the bag out. You put the liquid in a sanitized container. You add yeast. Put a lid on it with an airlock. Tada! Ale, just like great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother (yes, grandmother) used to make, slightly updated for germ theory. For stronger ale, use more grain. Just about any mix of malted barley, oats, and wheat will do.

You can start drinking it immediately for a sweet, alcohol-free brew, and it will steadily become more alcoholic and yeasty over the course of a few days. It will also go sour in less than a week unless it's refrigerated (which will, incidentally, cause the yeast to go dormant), since it contains no hops and the wort wasn't boiled. But that's what ale was like for centuries, particularly in the British Isles, up until about the 15th century when hopped beer started coming over from the Low Countries.
posted by jedicus at 5:23 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


And that's just for brewing from malt extract; brewing from grain requires a whole further set of equipment and time-and-temperature-sensitive processes.

Eh, all-grain is tastier and there's no real extra gear you need when you're brewing with 1 gallon batches. As with everything in brewing, when you scale up the gear just makes things easier as you scale. There's alot of gear I have because it just saves time and turns a 5 gallon batch from an all day project to a short morning project.

Anyways, my standard 1 gallon setup consisted of

-a 3 gallon stainless steel pot
-a nylon mesh grain bag, and little hops bags
-a thermometer
-1 gallon glass jars, stoppers, and airlocks to fit.
-a funnel
-a stainless steel spoon
-a kitchen scale
-a big bucket for sanitizing, and bottling*.

Uh. Thats it. You need to pay attention to temps and times, but thats really all you need. If you want a hydrometer, go for it…but your beer is going to have alcohol in it. If you want to know that number, go for it, but I rarely use mine when doing small batches. The book I linked earlier has a really good outline for cheap-gear. You should get it from the library to see if you'd like it, but I've given out my copy about a dozen times to friends who've gone on to buying it. Its great for what it is.

*If you want to DIY your own thing, or when you start to scale up, instead of getting glass carboys, you can swing by your local deli and pick up old 5 gallon buckets of mayo, drill a hole in the top, affix a rubber gasket, and throw your airlock on there. If you want to make a bottling bucket, you can get a spigot for a couple bucks and drill a hole.

I'm a firm believer that brewing should be cheap. You can get full kits from people ditching their whole setup on craigslist for about half what you'd pay retail.

And if you're looking to get into brewing, with even less gear or are looking to buy as you go, start with a batch of wine. It's insanely less gear intensive, and much less daunting if you follow instructions.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:42 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


You should get it from the library to see if you'd like it

Yep, got my hold request in already.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:02 PM on August 15


brewing seems like something I'd want to do but I didn't even realize there was a season for it.

It's been a while but as I remember, there are more wild bacteria and yeasties in the air during the summer making it risky to brew during those months. Pretty sure that I read that in Papazian's book but it's been a few decades. Also even ales yeast doesn't like temps over 70F and as was said above, who wants to stand over a boiling stove for hours in August?
posted by octothorpe at 7:02 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


My friends and I are not professionals or even terribly qualified amateurs at brewing, but we've been brewing every couple of months for the last year and have noticed no difference in the quality or sterility of our creations during the warmer months, as long as we keep everything in a climate-controlled environment and away from direct sunlight. Of course, a high alcohol content can mask a variety of sins.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:34 PM on August 15


I love beer. I love craft beer. This film looks good too, and I am coming around to hoppy beers now that single-hopped beers are getting commoner and more varied, and I know that some types are deliciously citrusy and tangy and others taste like someone has poured sticky pine sap directly into my otherwise pleasant beverage, but dear sweet holy mother of all that is good and wholesome and right in the world if I had to wait a lifetime to hear another half-assed...or even a fully assed hop pun it would probably still be too soon.

I would be ok with passive aggressive hop-pun hating beer names, maybe, perhaps a beer called Stupid Unimaginative Hop Pun,or meta-hop-puns like A Funny Thing Hoppuned On The Way To The Brewery , but since we are at the point you can take basically any idiomatic phrase and replace a word in it that rhymes, assonances or even shares two letters with the word "hop", with "hop", and be reasonably sure that the resulting Hop Of The Morning To You or The Only Way Is Hop or Hop To Be Square or whatever the hell is already a beer, maybe it's time to give them a well earned rest.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:03 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


All I'm going to say is - I love that the craft beer movement has grown so large and that homebrewing is really a thing. It is my job away from my job after all!.

Yeah Beer!
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:16 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


furnace.heart:

And if you're looking to get into brewing, with even less gear or are looking to buy as you go, start with a batch of wine. It's insanely less gear intensive, and much less daunting if you follow instructions.

I would put a still cider in that category too. Heck, if you press the apples yourself you can just let the wild yeasts on them ferment it.
posted by The Power Nap at 9:52 AM on August 16


Don't even have to worry about pressing the apples yourself - just go find a fresh press cider like what you get at the orchards. If you're nice and call ahead and say "hey, I want to buy 5 gallons of apple juice with all the odd varieities" you can get soemthing really intriguing.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:59 AM on August 16


And and and if you want to add hops to cider it's delicious! Go slow, you only need a few grams per gallon, or throw some onto a sterilized filter screen and 'dry hop' the cider as you pour it into your fermenting vessel!

Mmmmmm. Hopped cider.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:37 PM on August 16


I'd very much like to get into home brewing, except, well, it's pretty much illegal in Japan. The law was only changed to allow small scale breweries in the mid nineties, and they still haven't made home brew legal. It's a damn, damn shame, since outside of craft beer (you think it's pricey in the States? Hah!) you're only going to get lager in Japan. It's ... not awful, but it can certainly be monotonous.

I've ordered that book, though, thanks for that.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:43 AM on August 17


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