Cheers! Earlier this week Jamie and I popped the caps off of some of our most recent home brew beer. This is the beer we called 13 Hop, for which we used all the hops harvested from the garden in 2013. We learned some things making this beer. First of all, we now know that two quarts of dried hops is a lot of hops! This beer is fantastically hop flavored. Since we like hops, we like that it's plenty strong. Notice how dark the beer is when held up to the light? We don't remember what kind of barley we used, but whatever it was makes a lovely reddish color.
After the first big gulp, my comment was "this beer tastes expensive!", to which Jamie agreed. Now that we've been making beer for a few years, and had many leisurely shopping experiences at the local Liqueur Barn trying to figure out what ingredients to buy, I can recognize when a a home brew beers complicated flavor equates to a higher bill at the cash register. This beer packs a punch with all those hops, but also has a very dark malty flavor. Since we used home grown hops and left over bits of specialty barley, the only thing I had to buy was the malt extract (twenty-six dollars) and packet of yeast (about a buck). This beer tastes like I would have paid more than ten dollars for a six pack off the shelf, and we made it at home for around four dollars for a six pack. Not bad! If we could ever get it together to make beer using all grains, and skip the malt extract, we could make it for a fraction of that price. Not that we brew for any reason other than the fun of it, but it's nice to think that we find our own product worth more than it's price tag.
The problem with using only grains instead of the more expensive extract is the additional time it takes to brew; it changes a four hour experience into a six hour experience. We have a hard time squeezing an all grain brew into a weeknight. Especially since we like to drink beer while brewing. After a certain hour, drinking beer makes me sleepy.
We also learned with this beer that it's not a disaster if we leave the beer resting on the sediment longer than we're supposed to. This is probably not a good thing for us to learn, since the fear of losing all our hard work is motivation to finish our beer.