One Christmas, it might’ve been 2013, or it might’ve even been before that, my friend Holly gave me a Brooklyn Brew Shop Summer Wheat kit for Christmas. It came with all the basics (minus kitchen gear): a one gallon carboy, cap, racking cane and tip, tubing, clamp, airlock, thermometer, sanitizer, recipe mix. I put that bad boy together, learning my first lesson (man, you really need at least two but ideally three vessels that are 2x the size of your final batch volume) and getting a complete recipe in the closet to ferment. In a day it had a full krausen, in four days the blowoff was out and the airlock in, and in two weeks it met some priming sugar and was bottled in a motley collection of huge Ikea gasket bottles and recycled Grolsch bottles.
Two weeks after that we poured, and it was magnificent. Appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, head, all perfect. Sure, part of this was because it was a prepackaged kit, so there wasn’t much to screw up, and part of it was that this was with a wheat yeast, a subject which will become important in future posts.
This beer, while superb, set some pretty unrealistic expectations for future beers. I can’t imagine why, especially given that currently it takes all my willpower not to constantly have a new batch a day, but it took me a long time to try another batch. I’d shopped intermittently to see if I could find another Brooklyn Brew mix locally, and would wishlist them around the internet, but never got around to it.
Finally in spring of 2014 I set out to brew a batch of beer to drink at Holly’s pool parties. I grabbed some grain bill off the internet, took the advice of the staff at the brew shop for yeast, and I honestly don’t recall what hops took place (Saaz?). I used the mash/sparge schedule from my prior batch, paid little attention to temperature, and threw it in a carboy. It didn’t even look right — murky, almost green? It took off a bit after a day, then quickly quieted. Then just sat there, a sad, watery murk, before going down the drain.
I was pretty discouraged.
I spent the years in between honing my taste for craft beer. I visited many of Denver’s breweries, tried to hit destination tap houses when traveling, and got a pretty good idea of what I did and didn’t like. Ideas began to fly around my head, I started doing some reading, and began adventures in homebrewing in full that fall…