Monday, April 15, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

I don't even think that title really makes sense, but it's the first thing that popped into my head.

Since the Russian Imperial Stout I'm planning on brewing soon is such a big beer (read: "expensive"), I'm going to do a dress rehearsal (if you will) with a much smaller Nut Brown Ale this weekend.

Actually, this is a kit Jen got me for Christmas 4 years ago.

Long ago, I tossed the hops and yeast since I knew they wouldn't make it, but I just couldn't bring myself to toss out the 10 pounds of grain. Back then I didn't have the equipment I needed to make the all-grain batch (which she didn't realize when she got it), but now I do!

Side Note: Even though it's taken me a while to be able to use it, this is still one of the best gifts she's ever gotten me. Especially since she had NO IDEA what she was buying. She just knew I liked Nut Browns and wanted to get me a kit so I could make a good one. See how great of a wife she is??
 Since I already had the grains, I just needed to pick up the hops and yeast and I'd be ready to brew.
Another Side Note: It seems the general consensus is to avoid using grains that are over a year old, but I've found people on the forums who say they've used grains that are 2 and 3 years old with no problems. The grains I have were kept in a brown paper bag in our coat closet (along with the rest of my brewing equipment), so they weren't exposed to the sun or extreme temperatures or anything like that. They smell and taste fresh, so I'm giving them a shot.
I think it also helps that the grains were not milled, which presented another problem -- I don't yet have a mill.

Luckily, Paul down at My Old Kentucky Homebrew let me mill them when I was there yesterday picking up everything I needed for the brews.


So even if the Nut Brown is a bust, I'm only out about $6 for the hops and yeast. (If any brewers are reading this, that doesn't include the Nuggets in the picture, since I had to buy those for the stout anyway.)
Actually, I'll be able to tell if the grains are still good or not before I even begin the boil, so I won't be wasting anything, really. If I don't get a good conversion out of them, I'll just have to run back to the homebrew shop and pick up some fresh grains, which would only run another $13 or so.
Yeah, you read that right. With the equipment I have now, I can make a batch of beer (which yields around 50 - 55 12oz beers) for around $20 - $25, as opposed to the $40 - $60 it used to cost me.

You better believe I'm going to be brewing much more often now!

So I guess in a lot of ways this is the calm before the storm after all.

Stay tuned for lots of exciting things happening very soon:

  • TWO brew days
  • Our little boy is turning 3 MONTHS OLD in a little over a week
  • We'll be getting the garden going again, and this year I'm going to try my hand at GROWING HOPS (which will make brewing even cheaper!)

I LOVE spring!

Thanks for reading!

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