HOUSE, n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus, and microbe.
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
As The Devil’s Dictionary defines it, in typical sardonic style, the house is not inherently engaging. It is hollow in construction and in character. Rather, it is the content within that man finds fulfilling.
And I’m not referring to the IKEA POÄNG.
The aim of this blog, at least now, upon its moment of conception, is to celebrate the contents: the inhabitants that we love, the carefully filled pot simmering on the stove, the seeds sown in a box outside, the small endeavor, the unglamorous pastime. And what makes all of the above more enjoyable, seemingly more life affirming?
I think I’ve reached my quota and limit for pretentious musings on post-modern domestic conditions, so from here on out, let’s speak casually. With the title of this website in mind, the only sensible first entry would be one that celebrates the production of the bubbly elixir. I am by no means an expert homebrewer, or even an expert homedrinker. But as with many things in my life, I like to dabble. My first experience with brewing beer was a frantic affair; I didn’t have a nuanced enough understanding of the process, and therefore assumed it must involve perpetual motion and split second action. The end result was, to coin a phrase, “drinkableish.” It was dreadfully ugly to look at, but if you were at a barbecue and had nothing else with which to wash down the multiple bacon wrapped hotdogs you now regretted eating, it sufficed (as several friends can confirm).
Now, several batches in, the production process is a relaxing affair. Yes, there is ever-looming sterilization of the next necessary implement, but let’s face it, the process is essentially watching a pot simmer for an hour and a half, throwing it in a sink full of ice, adding some weird yeast-sludge, and waiting. I highly recommend you try it. If people could do it millennia ago without making a mess or inadvertantly offing themselves, you can too. You’ll of course need basic tools. I purchased a beginner kit with everything I needed here which might set you back close to $100.00. Considering you can make five gallons of beer with about $30 worth of ingredients, you’ll certainly be coming out ahead over the course of just a few brews.
There are but few rules for becoming an accomplished and fulfilled homebrewer.
One: brewing beer is best enjoyed with a sudsy glass in one’s free hand. Two: brewing beer is best enjoyed in the company of an engaging co-brewer. Three: brewing beer is best enjoyed with an accompanying soundtrack.
Adapted from The Brew Hut Dunkelweizen
I was in search of a style that would be foolproof for the novice that I am, but allowed for the brewer to put a simple twist to suit his or her taste. We followed the recipe pretty closely, but nearly doubled the hops (we’re from southern California after all). The beauty of this beer is that it isn’t overly aggressive; it makes for easy drinking on a warm summer day, but it still has depth and complexity as you begin to pick out the undertones of tropical fruit or clove.
Note that the description of the brewing process included below is rudimentary, to put it mildly. If you’ve never brewed before, those directions will be highly insufficient. I recommend reading up on the extensive details that I couldn’t include here before attempting to brew; a good resource for doing so, and one I always keep handy when I brew is Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide.
- 6 lbs. wheat liquid malt extract
- 8 oz. German Munich malt
- 8 oz. German Vienna malt
- 8 oz. German dark crystal malt (65 °L)
- 1.75 oz. 3.5 HBU Hallertau Hersbrücker hops
- 3/4 corn sugar for priming
- White Labs WLP300 yeast
Steep the grains in 20 quarts of water at 155 ºF for 30 minutes. Add and stir in wheat malt extract. Bring to a boil and add hops. Boil for 60 minutes and then chill to 70–75 ºF. Ferment for about 7–10 days or until all fermentation is complete. There is no need for a secondary fermentation. Prime with priming sugar, bottle, and allow to condition for at least two weeks.