Friday, August 19, 2011

I have a question about beer.

Well, after spending twenty nine of my 32 years of life in Utah, I probably have more than one.

Fortunately, I live next to this guy --->


That’s Brad.

He has giant brains and what looks like a mad scientist set-up going on in his garage every other weekend. As it turns out, he is not hatching a plan for world domination, he just cooks beer in there. Or, I mean brews. I know all sorts of things about it now, including how to use words like “hops.”

As in:

“When Brad makes beer it hops down my throat.”

See? Like that.

Oh, calm down everyone, I have not moved to California and become a moonshine loving hippy that lives under a tarp. I actually don’t drink beer. Or, I mean, I only drink happy, free range beer, that never lived in a bottle. And was made in the garage next door. By (get this people) a dude that was, like, third or fourth runner up in the National Samuel Adams Brewing contest.


In. The. NATION.

It would be against my religion to not taste it.

Let’s move on.

THIS is the “recipe” --->


After talking with Brad, I can’t believe how complicated GRAIN is. There are about seven different grains in that bin that will flavor this batch (keg?) of beer. I think there might be different ways to brew the same grains that make it more or less sweet, but as far as ingredients go, what you start with in your “bin” is all the ingredients you use.

I know I’m so Mormon, but this blows my mind! Also, as a person who has spent the last few years researching embroidery, I know there are lace patterns that go back centuries, passed down mother to daughter. Now I know beer recipes have some pretty cool lineage, too.

For instance, I now know there is a beer in Germany that has a specific salty sour taste because of the minerals you can only get from using the water from that region. Um? Rad.

Now, I will get in trouble if I try to explain the process from here, but just trust me when I tell you it involves these three pots --->


…making a mash with the grain, then heating the mixture, draining the liquid, then cooling it using ice and a hose, and finally packing it all into a keg. Please don’t try this at home since I might be making that up. I really should have been taking notes. Either way, the pictures are cool! --->


Oh, and don’t forget to stir it all with something that looks like it belongs above the desk of a cranky head mistress from some turn of the century pioneer school house. So, along with how beer is made, now I know why his children are so well behaved…


That’s right people, I am saying he uses that giant wooden spoon…

…to make his children beer so they will go to sleep.

Or not. It’s just a theory. So, my question:

How did they carbonate beer two hundred years ago? Jon says they didn’t and it was called Mead, and I said, no way! And then he said “yes way,” and then I said, “let’s ask Brad.” and that’s how I got the title of this post.

I will let you guys know what he says if he doesn’t answer in the comments. But I think he will since today is his wife’s BIRTHDAY, and she would want him to… you know since I have a present that I want to give to her…



Brad said...

It's been carbonated for many hundreds of years (just like champagne), and the process is quite simple:

Yeast + Sugar = Alcohol + CO2

For the bulk of the fermentation process, that CO2 just escapes into the air. But if you seal that container, the CO2 has nowhere to go and carbonates the beer.

So without kegging, all you have to do is add a small amount of sugar to each bottle (the yeast is already in the beer), cap it, and wait for the yeast to do their work. They create the CO2 that is absorbed into the beer to carbonate.

By the way, you can tell Jon that mead is a WHOLE different ballgame -- it's fermented honey rather than fermented sugars extracted from grain. Fermenting grain sugars is a process thought to go back as far as 10,000 years, so beer prior to the discoveries of carbonation was not eschewed in favor of mead.

Andrea said...

And sake is "rice beer" :)

Alissa Rae King said...

Okay, Brad, I couldn't understand that last paragraoh at all, except for the word honey so you know I'm down.

You should also know I never get commenters, but I have been getting phone calls and emails about this post for days. Just FYI.

Next I am going to do a frosting workshop with Joanna!

Between the two of you, we can educate everyone on the only two things a person really needs to know how to make at home :)

Alissa Rae King said...

Oh, and Brad? Meet, Andrea, she's another one of those mormons who knows what alcohol is made of. apparently.

Andrea, why do you know how sake is made and why have you been holding out on me?


Deanna said...

Did you know that vodka is made from potatoes and shochu is like vodka, but made from rice?

Alissa Rae King said...

Potatoes? Are you serious? That explains why the Russians in my book are always drinking it, but POTATOES?

I shouldn't be that surprised since I know prison inmates make alcohol with bread and fruit they mix with water and hide in bags behind the urnials, but I am.