I became interested in homebrewing after I had one of my grandfather’s home brewed Porters. He got his start during prohibition and continued brewing long into his 90’s. I have fond memories of our visits and always enjoyed swapping six packs of our latest creations.
I haven’t brewed a batch in a couple of years but I’m thinking about unpacking my supplies, dusting off my Carboy and getting back in the game. I’m not sure my wife will be so happy with the heavy smell of malt wafting through the house, so I may have to figure out a way to cook up a batch outside.
My most successful batch was an Imperial Stout that was adapted from a recipe that I found in the Complete Joy of Homebrewing. I also had good success with several batches of IPA.
How did you get started home brewing?
Hey Mark...i have been homebrewing for ~8 years and it all started with chemistry! As a chemistry professor, i found almost every aspect of brewing to work into the general chemistry and thermodynamics courses, as well as the amazing history and cultural discussions. The famous chemist James P. Joule was a brewer/scientist! Being slightly obsessed with the "hobby", i am an all-grain brewer, a BJCP (beer judge certification program; www.bjcp.org) judge, and two years ago i started a hop yard (~1/8 acre). I brew acceptable beer, i am an okay judge (i continue to practice often), and i am NO botanist (my hop plants grow, but the Japanese beetles dominate)!
Thanks for the invite. There is no better way to get me into the ACS network than a home brewing group. I started 72 batches, several books, years of homebrew magazines, 100's of podcasts ago. The hobby continues to grow. I got started from a co-worker (epidemioligist) and have since got a toxicologist involved. So, I see homebrewing as a great way to get nutritionist, epidemioligist, and toxicologist talking on the same wavelength.
I have access to all sorts of ideas working in a natural products career. My resonating question is: "How would that taste in a beer?" Herbs to foods run the gamet and I have even extracted my own homegrown hops by supercritical fluid extraction (tasty version of Pliny the elder). I have a novel method for culturing local bret strains as well.
I won't count the beer made in a plastic garbage bag with a rubberband around the neck as a fermentation lock that a friend and I made in Junior High after reading a book called "Homebrewing Without Failure", by H.E. Bravery. Since neither of us really drank beer at the time, it was hard to say how it came out...but we did it.
Fast forward to about four years ago when I finally got to taste some Sweet Mead at a Renaissance Festival. I got interested in it, found the Internet site http://www.gotmead.com and embarked upon a hobby of Mead Making. Made several small batches, some of which were actually pleasantly drinkable. A year or two ago, I helped a colleague at work who had started home brewing (Beer). I imparted to him all my fermentation knowledge gathered from Mead making, but realized I had no clue about brewing beers and ales. Soon, I was in the thick of extract brewing. I happened to hear a podcast about Gruits by Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, and followed it up with visits to the Gruitale.com site. My first ales, then were either traditional or decidedly NON-Traditional depending on how you view it.
Small batches of hopless Gruits, one a Mugwort ale, the other made with Yarrow Flower, Myrica Gale and Ledum Groenlandicum (Labrador Tea). Both were quite delicious and interesting, and I infected a much more experienced Home Brewer acquaintance with the Gruit fever. Soon, I succumbed to the worship of the devil Hop and made a few batches of more 'normal' beer, including an All Amarillo IPA, and a German Style Lager along with many batches of Hard Cider from the famous Ed Wort's Apfelwein recipe as well as the Graff - Malted Cider recipe.
Now I have many carboys sitting EMPTY. Lots of plans for more brews, but much less time to make them realities. I promised a Winter Lager to a friend, but he may have to wait awhile longer.
In the meantime I enjoy having a home laboratory in the form of a basement brewery and learning a lot about the art and science of brewing.
Thanks for the invite - it's been years since I brewed last, but I have been thinking of starting up again. I began in college when a classmate (Chemical Engineer) brewed an excellent stout.
I look forward to the discussions and would like to start with the question: What is the best way to clean and disinfect equipment/bottles. In the past I used a bleach solution, but was thinking of a mild soap wash and a weak peroxide rinse to avoid any chlorine residue?
Sanitation is a much discussed topic. I have settled on Iodophor solutions for the final sanitization step for carboys racking canes, air locks and other equipment though I still soak bottles in a dilute bleach + vinegar solution prior to running them through the dishwasher.
When I started out, I used the ONE-STEP cleaner (sodium percarbonate based) and had no trouble, but would sometimes find a little residue despite the claims of it being a no-rinse cleaner/sanitizer.
I use Oxy-Clean or Oxy-magic for cleaning out carboys after use. They work GREAT easily removing those stubborn krausen rings but if left too long, they leave a residue as well.
Here are some great podcasts on sanitizing with various agents:
In the first podcast, the StarSan chemist says that 1 oz Bleach + 1 oz white vinegar in 5 gal water is an effective no-rinse sanitizer, but I can still smell bleach, so I always rinse when I use it.
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Ironically, I got interested in home brewing after living in France, where it was hard to find anything but lagers in most bars and restaurants. Obviously this was not the case the closer you got to Belgium. I had previously lived in the Pacific Northwest, where I caught the microbrew bug - so I was missing IPA's and porters!
I'm a chemical engineer and a researcher, so I am pretty meticulous about my recipe and techniques. I prefer to keep things simple for now, brewing classic beer styles or one-off's (like a black IPA). I also like to take stock recipes and tweak them - I added maple syrup to a brown ale extract kit that someone gave me, coffee to a cream stout kit, etc. I also like to take extract recipes and make improvements like replacing LME with DME, using only light extracts and adjusting for color with the steeping grains, using late extract addition, etc. I've developed a sort of standard procedure for all my beer, regardless of the recipe, which reduces process variability and lets me focus on the ingredients. About every fourth beer I brew is an American pale ale, which is an excerise I'm doing to try to benchmark my brewing progress!
Right now I'm fermenting a modified recipe of Northern Brewer's Waldo Lake amber ale for the holidays, I just bottled a coffee cream stout, and I have in bottles my own black IPA recipe as well as a maple brown ale. A robust porter is up next - modeled after Great Lakes Brewing's Edmund FItzgerald Porter, a fantastic beer.
Thanks for the invite - this was a good way to get me to do something with the ACS network.
I'm an analytical chemist, and got started brewing when a colleague from another lab asked me to determine ethanol content in a few of his brews by GC (it turns out that the theoretical content calculated from the hydrometer readings was dead on with the GC determination, but it was fun to prove it). This got me started talking and brewing not long after.
Lately, I do all grain batches when I get the time (which isn't too often), as well as some cider (which takes all of 10 minutes, except for bottling).
StarSan is your friend!!! Rapid sanitization, and it degrades into something the yeast can eat (so I've been told, I'm no expert on yeast metabolism), with no flavor residue.
I was considering kegging, but StarSan made bottling tolerable.
I used to use Iodophor, but StarSan is so much quicker, and doesn't stain.