All hopped up: Home sweet homebrew

Ever been intrigued by the thought of brewing your own beer, but turned off by the “science” or intimidated by foreign words like sparge and flocculate? Well, you needn’t be. Brewing in your kitchen is actually pretty easy. I like to compare it to making a big pot of soup, but the secret ingredient is a live organism and you leave it out for two weeks before dipping in. To take away the mystery, I’ve illustrated the major steps of homebrewing so you can see what you’ll be getting into before you roll up your sleeves.

I’ve skipped over a few things – you’ve got to sanitize some stuff here, and let other stuff cool off there – but this is the general process, from raw ingredients to finished beer. Get all your supplies at Chope à Barrock (4709 St. Dominique), where the helpful owner will answer any questions you might have.

1. Mash: Malted barley that has been very coarsely ground is mixed with water and heated in a vessel called the mash tun. This process converts all the starches into sugars that will later be turned into alcohol by the yeast. Homebrew beginners often skip this step, as they don’t work with raw grains.

2. Sparge: The mashed grains are sprinkled with hot water to make sure all the sweet liquid (wort) is rinsed into the brew kettle.

3. Brew: A sample of the wort is taken before adding it to the kettle where it will be boiled for about an hour.

4. Pitch/Ferment: Yeast comes in either dry or liquid forms. After adding, or pitching the yeast to the now cooled wort, the proto-beer will ferment in clean and sealed containers for around two weeks. (The real last step is bottling, but you can figure that one out yourself.)