Yes, that’s right, I’ve recently begun brewing again after a much too long hiatus. Brew day came and my anticipation of all of the wonderful things that makes brewing fun had me so excited. It was a feeling I had not had in quite some time. The eager feeling you get Christmas morning or the bubbly feeling in your stomach before you embark on a plane trip – that’s what I was experiencing again. I love to brew beer. It seems to put things right and align the stars in my neck of the universe.
I had not been able to brew since Katrina, because most of my brewing equipment had been lost or damaged by the hurricane. I needed new supplies, and since I first discovered that there are no brewing supply stores within three hundred miles of me, I had to ship everything in and that was just too damn expensive. I had done it last time about five years ago when I first got to the gulf coast.
So, I went online looking at supply shops and trying to determine what I needed to get started again, when I noticed it. Right there, on my 4th Firefox tabbed window was the address to a place called the “Wine Smith” in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile?!? Heck, I had driven to Mobile for work for almost three years! Mobile was like a hop, skip and a jump away from me! How could this have happened and how did I miss it? Could it be true that brewing on the gulf coast had taken a quantum leap forward from when I left it last?
I quickly called the phone number to make sure that it wasn’t some cruel joke or to find out that they had gone out of business three years ago or something like that. A friendly gentleman name Dennis answered the phone and I just about wept out loud. I couldn’t believe that I was talking to a man that is a mere hour away from me and that had fresh cascade hops and liquid yeast cultures sitting in his refrigerator waiting for me!
Off I went to The Wine Smith and to meet Dennis Smith the owner, so that I could personally thank him by giving my credit card and doing some much needed damage on it. Over an hour of time, spent browsing the inventory and picking up things such as hops, yeast, malt, bottle caps, a new bottle washer (I had lost mine after several years of trusty service), brew buckets and finally, a new brewing spoon!
I scampered home (did I actually just use the word “scamper”?) to start my first batch of beer in almost five years. My first batch was to be an India Pale Ale since I am big fan of hops and an IPA is always a decent place to start. I also got ingredients for my next two batches which will be a Stout and Brown Ale, but more about those in a later post.
A Watched Pot Never Boils Over!
Todd’s World Famous Wort Chiller 2.0
After a few hour’s time, it was all coming back to me. I was remembering the small tricks of the trade and learning some new things too. After no time at all I had a big steel pot on my electric stove and I was brewing again! Then I remembered why I hated my electric stove again, almost having a very nasty boilover because regulating the heat on that thing is just awful. I had also forgot one of my best brewing tips: Always have a spray bottle with water next to the brew pot to help knock down the foam and prevent boilovers. I did not have this essential tool so I had to try and quickly move three and a half gallons of piping hot wort off the burner. After that little episode things went on much smoother and before I knew it, the wort was traveling through my new wort chiller, a design that I have been making for quite some time now (although they’re getting much more expensive to make now because of the cost of the copper tubing).
Last things last, I pitched the yeast into my cooled wort and sealed things up. I took a beginning specific gravity reading that read 1.051 which was spot on for the recipe I was using. I also siphoned off a small taste sample and let it cool. I then tasted the most early concoction and decided that is was up to the high level of quality set forth by the newly formed “Biloxi Brewing Company”.
As for that first batch of Biloxi Brew? Well, put your requests in now for a complimentary bottle and see what all the fuss is about.