I don't remember exactly when we brewed our first batch of beer, but it was sometime after Joe's birthday last summer. His birthday is towards the end of August, so we're still more than a month off from a year's worth of brewing. In the last eleven months, we've brewed 8 batches of beer. I'm proud of that fact, because it shows that we found a hobby we enjoy, and are really working on getting better at it. I've helped Joe with just about every batch, not only because it's easier with two people, but also because I really enjoy the process. It's so similar to cooking and baking, and I savor the end result with a sense of accomplishment. Within the next few months I would like to take the lead on a batch of beer, and to see it all the way from recipe selection to sanitation and bottling. Don't worry, I'll blog all about that experience!
We have gotten a little more bold with our beer making with recent batches, now that we're more comfortable with how the process works. We just tasted our "doctored up" IPA, which was a pale ale kit with our own hops added. I saw this as being similar to taking a boxed cake mix and adding ingredients to make it more gourmet, and I think this beer turned out a lot like that. It wasn't the best beer we've made, but it was not bad at all. When we went to bottle it, the fermented beer was very murky, which we attributed to the dry hop pellets. Next time, we'll use whole leaf hops or somehow contain the pellets before dropping them in. We attempted to filter the beer, which was a long and somewhat successful process. We were really cautious about avoiding contamination, but this was still a risky experiment. Thankfully, the first couple bottles we've tasted have been good. It's a very strong IPA, almost more than I can handle. But as a slow sipping beer, it's not bad. Nothing like the Dogfish Head IPA recipe from our Extreme Brewing recipe book, but not a bad attempt at adding our own touch to a recipe.
We also recently made a Belgian double that called for two pounds of honey along with the malt extract. We haven't tasted the final product yet, but the dark brown color and smell of honey and malt was pleasant and enticing when we were bottling it. I can't wait to taste this one!