If the philosophy of “consumers deserve to have choice” is accurate, what better way to achieve this than providing the choice for yourself.
I’ve just come back from an afternoon at Eric’s place, putting together an amber wheat ale. Eric set up the Bogota Homebrew Club earlier this year to try and draw together a young but emergent homebrew culture in his new home city. I met Eric in the weeks before I bought my own homebrew kit which has finally paid itself off, with this week’s official release of my first brew, and IPA, or Indian Pale Ale: a style renowned for its caramel sweetness, intense bitterness and pungent hop characters – what some might call, real beer.
“It,” gulped Big H. “Tastes like beer!”
If you’ve never seen beer made before, it might seem like quite an ordeal. I arrived at Eric’s shortly after midday, as he was in the midst of the mash stage. This involves soaking grains at a certain temperature, depending on the characteristics and mouthfeel of the beer you’re aiming for.
Next comes the boil. This can last up to 90 minutes – but it takes almost that long to get 40 litres of water to boiling point anyway. During this stage, hops are added to obtain a desired level of bitterness (if you boil them for longer) or aroma (if you boil them for a minimal amount of time).
The wort is then cooled as quickly as possible before yeast is added. This must be done at a very specific temperature to avoid killing the live yeast cells, and minimise the risk of infecting your beer with unwanted organisms and bacteria.
The yeast activity can last for 2 -3 weeks in a fermenter before the beer is force-carbonated in a keg, or mixed with a little more sugar and bottle-carbonated for two more weeks.
I left Eric’s at 6:30 with not only a tummy full of pizza and an eagerness to return in 3 weeks to try our amber wheat ale, but also a sense of freedom that we have the ability, creativity and desire to provide ourselves with choice. Delicious, delicious choice.
There is much more to say on The Homebrew Revolution…stay tuned.