Home brew how-to

Part three—Wherein your patience will be tried like never before

By Laurel Borrowman, Life & Style Editor

There are few things I yearn for as an adult. Living in the city, you don’t really have to wait for anything ever. I could put a kettle on to boil, cue up Stepbrothers on 1Channel, trot down the street to the 7/11, pick up some candy, the latest Spin, a birthday card for my brother, and be back home before the kettle starts whistling and I’ve got the green light on 90 minutes of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly hilarity. All that in about seven minutes. With conditions like that? Yearning shmearning.

Which brings me to week three of home brew how-to, in which we’ll revert back to our nine-year-old selves, in terms of our ability to display patience. In stages one and two, we discussed supplies, time commitment, and making wort. Your wort has now been burping for three days or so (emitting gasses, that is) and has now calmed down. My friend, you now have beer. And now comes the hard part: suppressing those nine-year-old urges that will bubble up when you realize how badly you just want to drink your brew, and drink it now instead of in three weeks.

The time you spend actually doing stuff from here on is minimal. There’s a lot of sanitizing and siphoning, and as before, I urge you to consult with your brewmaster on the specifics. Like I said in week one, if frat boys can do this, then you sure as fuck can. With that in mind, here’s an overview of this stage.

First, sanitize your siphon, the bung (hee hee) and your carboy (the big glass container). Next, peel the lid off the primary (that big white bucket) and set it aside. It will be covered in thick, silty brown residue and look super gross, but that means it’s working. Next, you get your sanitized siphon, your sanitized carboy, and your fit friend to help you with any lifting. Remember, you’re dealing with about 25 litres of beer here. The siphoning is much more reasonable when the primary is elevated higher than the carboy (because you’ll have gravity working with you), so set the primary on a counter or a stool, and the carboy on the floor. When you move the primary, be gentle and don’t let the beer swish around. The goal of this step is for the beer to clear of sediment, so the less that gets kicked up, the better.

Once you have the primary set higher than the carboy, put one end of the siphon in the primary and suck until the beer starts to flow. Take a swig. Hold the beer you’ve sucked up in your mouth and insert that end of the siphon into the carboy until it touches the bottom, then let it flow.

Swallow. That’s your beer, man. Flat and warm, yes, but you now officially have beer. Congratulations!

The siphoning will take a few minutes. When the volume of the primary is getting low, make sure the siphon doesn’t touch the bottom of the primary, because there will be more of that muddy silty mess sitting there, and again, you don’t want that to transfer into the carboy.

Once all the beer is in the carboy, shove the sanitized bung gently into the opening of the carboy, and leave that stuff the eff alone! You’ll have to leave your beer at this stage for at least one week before bottling. Yes, it is beer. No, you can’t have it. Not in an emergency. Not if you come home all drunk and think you just want a taste. Not if there’s a fire.

Leave it alone, and come back next week for the last stage. Your inner child will thank you.


Image from Laurel Borrowman