Thursday, 18 September 2008
Home made beer
I make quite a lot of beer, using Fuggles hops which I grow in the garden. I planted the hops the first year we were here, and four bines have rapidly expanded to give a big crop each year. They race across the supports like wildfire in the spring and early summer, and by the middle of September are dripping with yellow sticky hoppiness, scenting the air for yards around. Plucked from the bines, dried for a couple of days, then used or stored as needed. I bottled the first batch of beer this morning,2 1/2 gallons, now waiting to be labelled and stored for about 3 weeks, when it will be ready for drinking. There are now another 3 gallons in the buket, just about to get the yeast added, and will be ready for bottling at the beginning of next week.
The recipe is one I devised several years ago; a simple beer, easy, cheap to make and not too strong - ideal for a drink after a day's work. I prefer mine a bit more "hoppy" now, though, so use 1 1/2 - 2 oz of hops per gallon, giving it a more bitter hoppy edge. The amount of hops can be adjusted to taste, though - a good excuse for making lots until you find the one you like! It needs good strong bottles, as it can be quite lively when opened, resulting in a good ehad on your pint; I use old Grolsch bottles, which are ideal for the job.
1 gallon water
1 oz hops - more to taste if liked
1 lb malt extract
yeast - I use 1 tbsp of baker's yeast, which works fine
Heat the water in a large pan, and add the hops; simmer for about 45 minutes, then strain the liquor into a brewing bucket and add the malt extract. Stir to help the extract dissolve, then leave, covered to cool to blood heat. Add yeast - if using quick yeast, just sprinkle on to top of liquid, then stir in. I fusing other dried yeast, pre-activate it in a jusg with a bit of warm water and sugar until frothy, then add to bucket. Cover tightly, and leave in a warm place for five days. A big head of foam will build up, but will soon dissipate, and there should be virtually no head on the beer after the five days. Use a jug or siphon and put into clean bottles, stopper well, label and store in a cool place. Leae at least 3 weeks before drinking.