Adventures in Homebrewing… the backstory

Back in December 2008, my boyfriend at the time gave me a homebrew kit for Christmas. It was awesome. I recruited all my friends to start saving bottles, and once we were on track to having 50 I made an oatmeal stout, which was delicious. They kept saving bottles for me (it was grad school… you know how it goes) and I soon had enough for two more batches. A plan was hatched for an epic St. Patrick’s Day party. I brewed a stout and a pale ale so I could make homebrewed Black and Tans. Everything was delicious, and I’ll never forget that night. You know… except for all the parts I completely forget…. because I was 25… and had made a LOT of beer… and some homemade Irish cream… and shhh… don’t worry about it.

Anyway, that whole naturopath/gluten-free thing started only a few days later (I searched old emails to check, and it was exactly 4 days post-party). I moved to Asheville a little over a year later and toted all the equipment and bottles with me with dreams of brewing gluten free beers. I even said vowed that if/when I soured on academia (I did), I would open a gluten free brewery in my new brewtopian home (I super didn’t). I made cider once, and it was fine. And then I bought a house and toted everything through another move. I found a recipe for a gluten free beer that used sorghum extract, and again, it was fine… but the yeast crapped out during the second batch I made and I got super bummed out about all the wasted money over only “okay” beer.

And then I remembered that there was another thing I brought with me in the move. I saved all the glass gallon jugs from when I made that 5 gallon batch of decent cider, deciding they were perfect little gallon carboys and I could experiment like crazy. But I never did. The carboys earned their keep by holding water during snowstorms while I neurotically feared losing power and not being able to provide enough water for my ever growing menagerie of animals.

I discovered a book, True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home, and according to Amazon’s records, I bought it in December 2013. And then I bought some two gallon fermenting buckets for primary, because the book told me that the glass carboys were best for secondary, and then again… I had a bunch of equipment, and nothing to show for it.

Finally, about a month ago my dear friend Melissa was talking about how she wanted to make mead. “I have recipes and all the equipment! We could make a small batch to try it out, and then shake things up afterward!” “I can get local honey! Let’s make some mead!” (conversation totally paraphrased)

And so we did. I now have a small batch of mead, a small batch of tepache (Mexican pineapple “beer”, basically…?), and a small batch of cider fermenting away in the pantry. And I’m hooked. I started a ginger bug a few days ago for homemade ginger beer (just the soda, not the boozy kind, but I’m sure I’ll try that too), and I now have all the ingredients for a bunch of exciting gluten free beer recipes! Very exciting!

I apologize for the lack of photos in this post, but was exciting to kick off this new section of the blog. Stay tuned!



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