Saturday, September 02, 2006

Strange brew

I took the afternoon off from work Friday. Keela had an allergy shot scheduled, so after that I went in to San Antonio to pick up my birthday present from Lisa--tickets to the A&M vs. Army football game on Sept. 16. The tickets--cheap ones, mind you--are for row 17, section 326 in the north endzone. This puts us in the very middle of the upper deck, between the uprights. I've seen several college games in the Alamodome, and honestly, I can't imagine there being a bad seat in the house. Great sight lines. I'm a happy camper.

After the tickets were secured, I swung over to San Antonio Homebrew Supply. After I brewed some beer to promote Voices of Vision last year, Mark Finn enlisted my brewing skills (or lack thereof) to make some beer in support of his new book, Blood & Thunder, to be distributed at this year's World Fantasy Con. My mission was a success:


I'm making him up a six-gallon batch of beer, which will give us roughly three cases once bottled. For those of you planning on going to World Fantasy and unsure of whether to drink the stuff or not, I'll walk you through the process. Some real homebrew enthusiasts start with raw grain and cook their own mash. I've done that. Apparently I'm not a real homebrew enthusiast, because you can see I'm using a can of Munton's Nut Brown Ale hopped malted barley extract. It's a heck of a lot quicker--and cleaner--that way.


Next, I heat a pot of water and soak the can o' malt for 15 minutes or so to soften it up. Then I pour out that water (there's glue on the can that dissolves in the water) and heat up some more to boiling. At this point I empty the dehydrated yeast packet into a cup of lukewarm water and set it in a corner, covered.


The next step is pouring the malt into the six-gallon fermentation vessel. The malt's consistency is similar to that of molasses, and even smells similar. This is a very nice, clear PET plastic one from Mr. Beer. I love it. It allows one to watch the fermentation process in action--and if you've ever found a lava lamp even mildly interesting, active fermentation is loads more fun. Orion was kind enough to assist.


The boiling water follows the malt into the vessel.


As does two pounds of dextrose, give or take. While I was at San Antonio Homebrew Supply, I flirted briefly with the idea of making it an all-malt beverage, but then decided I'd better not get cute with someone else's beer. Especially when they're footing the bill. That's why I put the toasted French oak chips back as well.


After that, I moved it to the spot of honor in my office. All that was left was to top off the wort with cold water to make six gallons, and pitch the yeast. That's all there is to it. I rarely bother with hygrometer readings for beer, because unless I'm making a barley wine the alcohol content isn't going to vary much beyond the 5-6 percent range.


All that's left is to wait a week or so for the fermentation to die down, then bottle it up and age until the convention. The airlock's bubbling already, so by this time tomorrow my office will be filled with the yeasty smells of fermentation. It'll be almost like a bakery. Almost.

Now Playing: Dvorak Symphony No. 2; Legends Op. 59, Nos 6-10


  1. Damn, that sounds tasty! An all malt beverage? I love malt. I've never wanted to homebrew more than right now in my whole life.

    Thanks again for doing this.

  2. Oh, yum. Is there a way to reserve one? :-)

    I made homemade wine a few times when I lived in Texas (mustang grapes rock), but I've never tried brewing beer. I'm looking forward to trying it!

  3. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Beer brewing Orion? How's about letting him make slushy punch? Namo