Homebrew Attempt #1

I can’t tell if I like these photos this big. Lemme know your thoughts…
I ordered a groupon for Midwest Supplies. It was something like $50 for their Starter Kit, plus a choice of beer to brew. Albany John chose an Irish Red. It comes with a bunch of stuff for easy home brewing. You can see the different hops, cheescloth, molasses, grains, yeast, and priming sugar above.

And here is some of the other stuff in one of the brewing buckets. Caps, some hosing, and a few bottle brushes. Also a temperature sticker (which I didn’t use) and a hydrometer.

Handy Dandy capper.But we don’t need that just yet.


The brewing kit makes it fairly easy to figure out how to brew. They also have a PDF of their directions in case you lose things easily or get the sheet they include wet. Not that I did that. Any way, the first step is to put your crushed grains in the cheesecloth bag & steep them at about 150-155 for 10-30 minutes. I did 30 minutes because the sheet told me that the longer it steeped the better. Okie dokie.

I got tired of holding a thermometer in the water in short order, so I rigged this old wire hanger so the thermometer hung into the water without touching the bottom.

Once that’s done, take the grains out and the water off of the heat. It looks like tea. Then toss in the included molasses. Stir until it dissolves.

Once that dissolves, toss in the Cascade bitter hops. They are pellet hops. This starts the long part of the brewing process.

Once this starts to boil, let it go for 60 minutes, then toss in the Fuggle hops for the last 2 minutes. I used a really big pot, so I didn’t have to worry about any boil overs. I kept walking away from the pot and ignoring it for minutes at a time. This will probably bite me in the ass the next go-round, but my kitchen escaped unscathed this first time.

After the hops are added, Midwest urges you to cool down the brew as quickly as possible. The total water needs to add up to 5 gallons, so they suggest using a whole bunch of fancy tools that I didn’t have… or using ice as part of the water you add to get the entire brew up to 5 gallons. I went with the ice method, and also had a fan going in the kitchen pointed near the hot brew.

Once things had cooled down, I added it to my sanitized brewing bucket and tossed in the yeast.


Once that’s done, pop the airlock on and then mooch off of some friends for the use of their sweet, cool basement (which hovers aroun 65-70F) and peace out for 2 weeks. I liked that the kit said I could use the hydrometer, but that letting it go for 2 weeks would pretty much be fine. Sure enough it was. I plan on nerding out on future brews, but wanted to take a low-key approach this first time so I wouldn’t get pissed if I screwed it up.

After 2 weeks, continue to mooch off of friends by using their dishwasher to sanitize your beer bottles (bonus points if you have friends that will sanitize them for you while you drive over).

Then bottle!

The next round of homebrewing will showcase the finished product. 2 weeks.

7 comments
  1. amanda_ny said:

    Nice! I know someone who has a chiller setup, but we did the same thing as you did, adding ice water. We also filled the sink with cold water and set the bucket in that to cool. The wort looks good – did you taste it before you put it in the basement to let it ferment? My husband likes it, but I think it’s terrible! We have a batch going in our basement right now, a ‘New Belgium Fat Tire’ clone.

  2. tallguyy said:

    We bought the same kit.. $65 groupon plus shipping. make sure you don’t use soap in the dishwasher…just use it for drying cycle. the soap will kill the beers head.

    Best method to remove bottle labels….warm bucket of water overnight with oxy clean. Then on bottling day light soap and scrub. the homebrewforum website is great. Good luck!

  3. Thanks Jane for this detailed writeup. I am going to bite the bullet and make my own IPA from my home-grown hops this year and have been intimidated by the temperature-control process. Your shortcuts will help me immensely!

  4. Always love to see more local homebrewers! Check out Albany Brew Crafters (ABC), an Albany homebrew club started 6 months ago.
    http://www.albanybrewcrafters.com.
    We meet monthly to talk Club business and share delicious homebrew! Come by, or e-mail me and I will get you on our newsletter list!

  5. Cool! Glad to see you finally made that homebrew. I’m surprised molasses was included in an Irish Red kit. Was it malt extract?

    You want to sanitize your bottles right before bottling, like RIGHT before. what I do is fill up my bottling bucket with sanitizer and the fermenting bucket with lukewarm clean water. Sink all the bottles in the sanitizer bath for a few minutes, then dump the water out and sink them in the fresh water bath for a few minutes and let them air dry on the dishwasher rack.

    I also find that using the dishwasher to clean the insides of the bottles doesn’t always work that well. A lot of bottles with caked-on old yeast sediment need to be hand scrubbed. Did you kit come with a bottle cleaner? If not you you can pick up one at one of the local homebrew stores for like $8.

    I’m also a member of ABC, as Marissa plugged. You should bring your brew to our next meetup and let everyone try it. Plus you get to try other people’s homebrews for free. It’s a big bottle sharing orgy. lol

  6. Very cool! I bought a kit for my husband a few years ago. He made it to the part where you put it in the bucket, but let it sit in our pantry for over a year. Boy, did that smell bad.Your post makes it look pretty easy. Maybe I’ll give it a try. Let us know how it turns out!

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