Thursday, September 17, 2009

Something's brewing in our kitchen...

As you can imagine, I haven't been making very good use of my kitchen recently! I'm still cooking, since 2 of my part time jobs involve cooking lessons, but have had very few chances to actually get into my own kitchen. For example, the next two nights I work at the Chopping Block until late, then Saturday I'm in a food safety class all day, then I babysit Saturday night and work all day Sunday. I've eaten more Turkey sandwiches in the last month than I'd eaten in the last couple years, and granola bars or goldfish crackers have become essential parts of my diet. I'm eating like a six year old a lot of the time, which is kind of sad.

But the kitchen has been getting some use from Joe. He's made a couple dinners on nights when I've been working all day while he's at home. He made a fantastic butternut squash soup from Jamie at Home on Sunday, which I'm bugging him to blog about. He's cooked other dishes here and there, but that's not what I want to tell you about today. What I want to tell you about is his new hobby... brewing beer!

The brew master takes over the kitchen!

I'm not sure if I've emphasized enough that Joe and I are big beer fans. We've been known to choose a craft brew over wine even at a fancy restaurant, and would be content hanging out at a beer-centric bar in Chicago any night of the week. We used to live only a block or two from the Hopleaf, one of the best beer bars in the city, and would walk there on a random weeknight to enjoy one of the over 100 beers they had on hand. We've toured a few breweries together, and have spent many evenings talking with my beer obsessed father about different brews that we enjoy. My dad has been brewing his own beer for years, and finally inspired Joe to try his hand at the art of home brewing.

Last summer we visited Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee,
which I would highly recommend if you're ever in the area.

A few weeks ago my dad and I visited the Schlafly Bottleworks in St. Louis.

One of the things I love about Joe brewing is that he's as obsessed with it as I am with cooking. He's started hanging out on the message boards of, and more than once apologized for talking about brewing too much. He didn't want to use a pre-packaged kit, and ambitiously used a recipe his first time. His first batch of wheat beer was a success, and we enjoyed sharing it with friends and family. Like cooking, brewing gives you a sense of pride for creating something for people to enjoy.

The first day of brewing... this is when the kitchen is a bit of a mess! After this day it goes into a huge jug to ferment. At that point we store it in the basement, to keep it in a cool environment and also to get it out of the way!

Two to three weeks later it's time to bottle. Once the beer is in bottles and caps have been securely attached, it has to condition for another couple weeks. It gets bubbly during this part of the process.

Our first batch made around 45 bottles, which went pretty quickly when we started sharing it with everyone.

Sharing the fruits of his labor is probably Joe's favorite part... and everyone has enjoyed the brew so far!

Right now we have a Pumpkin Ale fermenting, and I think Joe will be bottling it this weekend. It should be prime for drinking in October, just in time for the change in season. If you want to know more details about the specifics of brewing, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Joe. And maybe I can convince him to do a guest post one of these days to tell you more about the process. If you have a second, I'd love to hear a comment about your favorite brew! I think Magic Hat #9 is one of my favorites... but I also really love the Goose Island reserve brew called Sophie, which I think you can only buy in Illinois. Cheers!


Chris said...

How awesome! My neighbor is a homebrewer and made some pear beer last year that was just unbelievable. I think it's just amazing what homebrewers are able to do. Jealous too!

I've heard great things about the Lakefront Brewery tour - I still haven't been even though I'm from MKE.

Joelen said...

I know a few beer brewers and its amazing how much goes into it! I would recommend your hubs to check out because I *think* there is a group of local home brewers that get together... might be fun for him to meet others and get some fun beer ideas!

TKW said...

Pumpkin Ale sounds awesome!!!! I think it's so cool that he's becoming a brewmaster!

Laura said...

What a busy life ... its great that you're into cooking in your new jobs .. you're SO talented!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Nice job Joe!