The next day I got an email from Jess, who had just hosted the book club. She noticed that many of us either brewed our own beer or were interested in learning how, so she invited everyone over to brew with her and her boyfriend Natan, an experienced home brewer. I wasn't scheduled to work on Sunday, so it worked out perfectly!
Joe was especially excited to help with the process, because Natan does all grain brewing, which is a more advanced method than the extract or partial mash techniques we have done. It involves more equipment, which requires some upfront costs that we haven't been willing to commit to yet. Natan has done a bunch of DIY projects to get his equipment in order, and seems to be so comfortable with the whole process. He really knows his stuff!
This is Jess showing off the new tool Natan made for sparging the grains. It involved welding and making tiny holes in a metal pipe, so I don't see Joe and I making anything like this in the near future. Overall the process is not too different from what we already do, once you get to boiling the wort then it's all the same steps.
(Side note: Jess is an amazing host, with major cooking and baking skills. I am pretty sure I will never turn down an invite to hang out at her house. She made a fantastic veggie platter that I couldn't stop eating, and some addictive pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. And another amazing baker in the group made chocolate cupcakes with stout... so appropriate for a brew get together!)
Here's most of the set up for all grain brewing. Basically, hot water goes into the top, then slowly drips into the grains that are in the bottom container. The water seeps through the grains, making the wort. Then you boil the wort, cool it down (Natan had a nice homemade wort chiller, too), add your yeast, and let it ferment. There you have it-- how to brew in 100 words or less).
All grain brewing is done in bigger batches than the other methods, so most people use a turkey frying burner to boil the wort. This is best done outside, away from any nice kitchen equipment or finished floors, cabinets, etc.
Last but not least, if you're going to be outside brewing some beer, you might as well smoke some meat, too. The grill smell had me drooling!