The Quixotic Pastor

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beer Soup and Other Mysteries

Last Friday, I brewed my first batch of beer in my kitchen.

It was a very interesting experience, although I felt a little like Dr Frankenstein ["Fr-r-rankstein, you've created a monster!!!"] playing around with various concoctions, pots, containers and measuring devices.

The wert, a mixture of malt extract and water boiled for an hour, looks a great deal like a thick soup [especially since I boiled it in a giant enamelled menudo pot] about the color of clover honey in this instance, to which it also has a similar smell.

Once the wert cools to around 70-80 F, you put it in a fermenter, a food grade 6.5 gallon bucket with a tightly fitting lid, add yeast and wait for the airlock to begin bubbling merrily, hopefully within 24 hours, which shows the hungry yeasty beasties are doing what they do best, which is consume sugar and excrete alcohol and carbon dioxide.

To my delight, when I awoke Saturday morning, even before I made coffee, I checked the airlock and it was indeed bubbling away at a happy rate. Amazin'

Of course, I just have to theologize about this. To five gallons of wert, I added maybe a teaspoon, maybe 2t. of yeast --and it "leavened" the entire thing. I began with five gallons of syrupy sweet, non-alcoholic soupy looking stuff ... and now I have about 5 gallons of beer, at about 4% alcohol, if I read the starting and finishing gravity correctly on the hydrometer.

It is very true that a little leaven goes a long, long way ... maybe the leaven of the Spirit will work equally as subversively in my life and the lives of my churches.

And, just like the leaven of the Spirit, this is an ongoing process. Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning, it has to be siphoned into a secondary fermenter, which is a giant glass bottle, very much like one for a water cooler. Then it sits in a cool, dark place for two weeks more, when more chemistry takes place, and the leaven works more magic. Then a little more sugar is added, the beer is siphoned into bottles, tightly capped, and the yeasty beasties have a light sugar snack and carbonate the beer, which this time is trapped in the liquid instead of allowed to escape.

Two more weeks, and one can open the first bottle and taste and see whether God is good --and if one did everything correctly, with appropriate sanitation and no introduction of wild yeasts or sugar-loving nasty tasting bacterias.

You may have noticed by now that this is also an exercise in patience, and God knows I could learn some more of that!


  • At 6:46 AM , Blogger Tom in Ontario said...

    It sounds like something I'd enjoy doing. But I'm not much of a drinker (I drink maybe 4 or 5 bottles of beer a year) so I don't know what I'd do with the end product.

  • At 6:33 PM , Blogger LutheranChik said...

    yDr. Frankenstein or Dr. Frankenmuth?;-)

  • At 4:20 PM , Blogger LadyBurg said...

    I've been on many a beer tour and your description is the first that makes sense. Aren't you excited! I look forward to hearing whether or not its good (not that I doubt just seems so delicate).

  • At 8:08 AM , Blogger Reverend Dona Quixote said...

    Tom, I am really hoping the first batch is good enough to share. Of course, there's always beer bread, beer biscuits and beer as a marinade for various meats or other kind of food additive. Supposedly it even makes a good hair rinse, if we believe the body on tap people.

    LC, that's good question ... while I am probably German enough to claim Dr. Frankenmuth, I don't think I'm Republican enough! Better stick with Frankenstein ... or perhaps Frankenbeerstein, hahaha.

    And Ladyburg, I'm glad I made sense, and thank you for your encouragement. Yup, it does seem a delicate process, but I tasted a bit, even though it was flat, and I think it will turn out OK.

  • At 12:43 PM , Blogger Mark said...

    beer brewing is always something i've been interested in trying. maybe i just need to buckle down and buy the necessary equipment and give it a shot!


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