We don’t normally write about it a ton on this website, but Nate and I both homebrew. Lately, I’ve been branching out and trying some new and unique stuff. Most recently, I did a sour mash for 26 hours in order to make a sour wheat-rye beer. Not only has this given me the opportunity for creative expression, it gives me a chance to make some great beers for my pleasure (and, hopefully, for a future brewery).
Like I said, normally I don’t write about brewing, but I think I might do it a little more often. Part of the reason I am choosing to do so is not only because brewing never ceases to amaze me but also so that we can all have a little more appreciation for the work that goes into making a beer. I just want to briefly describe the process that went into making this sour beer.
The first thing I did was to run to The Bruery’s provisions store, which is about 40 minutes away. I picked up all the necessary supplies for my recipe and headed back down the line. Actually, a friend went with me and wanted me to help him do a Wit, so I planned on putting my beer on top of his yeast when it was done. (Therefore, we had to brew my friend’s beer first…I won’t bore you with the exhaustive process.) Anyway, after about a week of fermenting, I moved the Wit to a secondary fermenter for lagering.
A day before I moved the Wit, I put my grains in water and maintained the temp at 104 for 45 min. Subsequently, I raised the mash up to 122 for 45 min. After that, I raised the temp to 153 for 90 min. Then I cooled the mash to 135 and added 1/2 pound of fresh malt (this was for souring) according to Papazian’s suggestion. I stirred well, closed my cooler (this is where I mash), and wrapped it in blanket. After 26 hours, I started running 200 degree water through the grains in order to extract the sugars and sours. When I finally finished that, I boiled for 90 minutes, added my hops, and then cooled the beer. When my sour was cooled, I put it on top of that yeast.
When I heard a bubble after 42 minutes of the beer being on yeast, I didn’t think much about it. Within an hour the bubbles starting becoming more frequent. Within an hour and a half it was freaking out. I’ve never had a beer bubble like this or this quickly. Truly amazing!
Why am I telling you this? A few reasons. One, making beer is hard work. This one in particular had a lot of extras that I don’t normally do. Two, beer is joyous to make. Seeing your beer take-off, turn-out, and be appreciated is a great joy. Three, I want to stress that there is a reason for the higher cost of good beer. Good beer is more labor, ingredient, and time intensive. There is no replacement for a beer that has blood, sweat, and tears in it.
Please consider home brewing as a hobby–it is very rewarding. I do understand that brewing will not be for everyone, so at least let me make this appeal: The next time you buy, pick-up, or taste a beer, remember that your good beer is more expensive for a reason. Cheers!