Stovetop Brewing: Goals

December 5th, 2011 | Tags: , , ,

My main brewing efforts have been with my friend, the Unknown Lamer, since last October. We use a mega-burner (basically a turkey fryer), and since January it’s been an all-grain setup with the construction of a 5-gallon mash tun. Since June I’ve been doing this little stovetop side project, in part because I don’t always manage to link up with Clinton in terms of timing. He’s a little closer now that he has moved to Raleigh, but it’s still on the other side of the city. And if you have any sense of cities in the South, that means spraaaawwwwl. So, it takes about 20 minutes to get there instead of 25. Wew.

With my stovetop setup, all I need to do is throw some malt in the pot and get cooking. And that’s the point. I want to continue exploring beer, but a home setup is a little more manageable. OK, I don’t brew as much in terms of quantity–the electric range limits my kettle size to about 3 gallons, realistically. But that puts useful constraints on my process, giving me that much more incentive to figure out how to make decent beer with just what I have. So here’s my breakdown in terms of what I intend to do with this new habit:

  • Brew good table beer. First and foremost, my goal is to make reliably yummy alcoholic beverages using malt & adjuncts, hops, yeast, and water. I want to be able to pull this stuff out of the fridge and relish the various flavors and aromas without getting drunk.
  • Make beer for an ingredient cost of less than $1 per bottle. Obviously this is not a hobby that will pay for itself, but since I enjoy drinking beer anyway, I might as well at least try to save some money while I’m doing so. Since I’m using mostly household items, I can just write off the small hardware layout I’ve done; the equipment, handled with care, should last me for the foreseeable future.
  • Explore the BJCP Style Guide. Beer has a fun and complex history, and the styles that we have come to know and love offer a nice completionist’s prize–”I did these!” And the challenge of attempting the different styles on such a low-budget setup will be all the more fun.
  • Improve my all-grain brewing. Having a small side workshop means that I can bring a better understanding of unique ingredients to the table. I can try out different hops and malts in more rapid succession, so I will have greater ability to make impactful aesthetic judgement calls in my Serious Beer.

The small size of my kettle means I can’t reach those high-gravity altitudes, but I have a few plans to take it up a step from the 3.5-4% range I’ve been exploring thus far. And this brings me to the point of this post: I’ll be documenting my efforts with a Youtube channel! Starting in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting videos to share with you about brewing, beer, and the like. I hope you’ll join me.

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