I love to make things. Most especially things that you might think you can’t make, or that most people buy, it’s kind of a “thing of joy” for me. One of my favorites is brewing my own beer. This summer, I was a little lax about making my seasonal brew, and now I am disappointed because I have no sparkling beverage chilling in my mini-keg. But, It’s never too late! I am brewing today.
My summer beverage of choice is a fermented tea. It’s not a “beer”, really, in that it contains no hops, but the process is the same as basic beer making. My second choice is a honey-wiezen, and I make this one frequently. It always comes out well, and is my husband’s favorite.
If you have never brewed before, I recommend giving it a try! It’s not as difficult as you might think, and the results are good (or at least interesting). A good supplier will sell beer kits that have everything you need and almost always produce a great product. The equipment can get outrageous, but remember that while there are many tools and gadgets that will make the job of brewing easier, you don’t actually need much of anything.
Anyway, today it’s my special “tea” in the brew kettle, and because I am a share-er, here’s the recipe:
4 gal. water
2 lbs brown sugar
2 lbs honey
1 cup (approx., I usually do a big hand-full) each of dry: Chamomile, Lemon Verbena, Jasmine, and Passionflower
A piece (4 oz. or so) of Ginger root, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
I like Munton’s Gold yeast, and I usually add some ‘yeast nutrient’ as well.
I won’t go into the whole process, because you really need a more detailed instruction than I can offer here, but the basics are this: You boil the herbs and sugar and lemon to make a very strong tea. Then you add the honey for just a few minutes. Then you strain it into a fermenter (which is either a glass carboy or just a food-grade plastic bucket), and top it up with cold water to make 5 gallons (you can also make a batch of only one gallon, like I did today, just reduce the quantities proportionally). Then you sprinkle the dry yeast on top, seal the deal with an airlock and let it sit. It ferments in about 10 days, then you bottle it with a little more sugar (for carbonation) and let it sit another week or so in the bottles or kegs.
The result is a sparkling beverage, similar in color to champagne and just as dry, with a nice floral aroma and ginger flavor. I drink it over ice with lemon, in massive quantities. Once you reach the bottom of the first glass, everything just seems better.
If you are interested in alternative brewing, the best book on the subject that I have found is:
It is a very readable and extremely informative book about not only the processes, but also the history and cultural significance of brewing, as well as a great source of herbal lore. It’s well worth a read even if you never brew.
In other matters, I enjoyed a few days at the beach house with my kids (we are lucky enough to have partial use of a tiny beach cottage in July, it’s awesome), we came back sunburned and tired and happy, and I think I turned a corner on my WIP. I’m not saying it’s any good, but I think I might make it to 40k now…we’ll see! It was also nice to get away from facebook and similar distractions (no wi-fi in that little place). We’re planning to go back a few more times, so maybe I’ll meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal 🙂