Monday, December 26, 2011

Brewing made simple: A guide to making your first beer

People have been brewing beer for thousands of years and very little has changed in this simple yet effective process. I will show you where I bought the equipment and ingredients, as well as, the forums I used for advice and tips. A great forum is

The first step in brewing is getting equipment. There are many sites you can use, also any local homebrew stores, but I would try to find a company located in your area. I used

1) Equipment and preparation.

The absolute first thing you will need is a good, preferably stainless steel, 5 gallon pot. Many people already own one but I would highly recommend get one that is new because boiling the wort can stain the pot and also pots that have already been used might have soap or other contaminants in the pores that can possibly ruin the beer. These pots can be purchased online or at your local grocery store.
Secondly, you can either get the equipment is separate pieces or just get a kit. I would recommend getting this kit:
It has almost everything necessary to brew except the bottle, caps, or beer ingredients.

Thirdly, you need to get your ingredients. I would highly recommend getting what is called a "20 minute boil kit". These kits come with all the ingredients required to make your beer and it's a good way to get a little experience with a proven recipe plus it usually turns out great! I like really dark and heavy beer so I went with this Amber Bock kit.

The final step is cleaning all of your equipment. I find that cleaning the equipment with bleach is highly effective and very cost friendly but you must rinse all the equipment in hot water after because any access bleach can affect the taste.

2) Boiling the wort

When you get your brew kit, all of the ingredients are ready to go and there are also step by step instructions that are very easy to follow, as they are designed for beginners. Because most brew kits have slight variations I will go over the basics so you get an idea of what to expect.
Usually you fill your pot with 2-3 gallons of water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, the dried malt extract and the hopped can kit (a very syrupy substance) are added to the boiling water. Add the ingredients slowly while stirring so they are no burnt. This mixture, called the "Wort", is boiled for 20 minutes.
When the 17th minute of the boil arrived I added my aroma hops but other kits may be different.

3) Cooling, combining, and fermenting

Now that you have boiled your wort it's time to bring it to a lower temperature and then add it to your fermentation bucket, which has ~3 gallons of cold water inside. Once this final mixture(4.5-5.5 gallons) is around 75 degrees, it's time to pitch your yeast. There are different types of yeast so it's best to do a little research and follow the directions. The yeast is what makes the beer have alcohol. Now that you have pitched the yeast all that's needed is time. Seal the lid, place the airlock, and wait to see some bubbling. These kits usually require 2 weeks to ferment but there are many variations so again, follow the instructions and do research.

4) Bottling and carbonation

After 2 weeks your beer should have completed it's fermentation stage and you're now ready to bottle. You can drink a little of the beer now to get the flavor but it will be completely flat. Make sure that the bottles you are using are completely sterilized! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If any of your bottles have germs in them they can infect that beer and ruin the taste. The process of bottling and carbonating are pretty simple. Transfer the beer into the bottling bucket and either add the required amount of priming sugar to the entire bucket and stir or add the sugar to each bottle. The sugar will carbonate the beer and help with its taste, as well as the aging process. After 2 weeks your beer is ready to drink!
In the end, brewing can be very interesting and fun but having your first beer is the most rewarding experience. So I hope I helped and if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask! Good luck brewing and have some fun!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Saved some of my beer for my family to try and it was a big hit!

The holiday season is upon us and I made sure to save a few beers for my family. My first batch was a great success and I will definitely be making another batch soon. I will soon have my full write up on how I brewed, the equipment I used, and where I purchased all of my supplies. So have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beer's done carbonating and it tastes great!

Here's the final product and it tastes wonderful! Later this week I'll be doing a full write up on how I did it and where you can get the necessary brewing equipment as well as the ingredients.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Successful first batch of beer

A couple weeks ago I brewed my first beer and last weekend I bottled the end product. I had a bottle after 3 days of carbonation and it tasted fantastic. If I had to compare it to anything, it tasted very similar to New Belgiums Snow Day winter ale. The beer will be completely done in another week and after I have the final product I'll tell you how to brew it yourself! Next week is finals week so I'll be pretty busy but after that I'm free and clear to have some beer!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and bottling my beer.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all had a nice meal with your family and friends. This Saturday will be the final day of my beers fermentation and it'll be ready for bottling. Just wanted to give a little update and I'll be posting some pictures on Saturday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Brew Underway

Last weekend I started brewing my first beer. I decided to go with an Amber Bock kit because it came with all necessary ingredients and I simply wanted to try something that has been successfully reproduced multiple times by beginners. This brew was fairly simple and it has been fermenting for 3 days. Before I go into detailed instructions, I want to make sure my first batch is successful. I'll give everyone an update when the fermentation is complete and I begin the carbonation process. Here's a sneak peak.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Birthday Weekend and Brewing

I turned 21 last Thursday and this weekend we had a pretty rowdy party. I had a great time with some great friends but I want to talk about my up coming project. I've never been a person that liked drinking cheap beer, I would rather have 1 fantastic beer than 10 watery, light beers. When my dad was younger he did some brewing and last weekend he gave me his brewing kit. Now that I have a kit I'm going to start brewing my own beer with my roommate and keep picture logs and give instructions on how to brew beer for people who might be interested. Within the next two weeks I plan on getting all the necessary ingredients and start my very first batch. Have a good week everyone, I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sorry I lied....

So a few weeks ago I thought it would be my last opportunity for a nice motorcycle ride but today was beautiful and I got some pictures to prove it. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

So I turn 21 in under a week... Any pointers?

So I turn 21 in under a week and was wondering if anyone had any pointers, positive or negative, I'd like to know your experiences turning 21. Let me know in the comments, thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011

This Sunday was the Chicago Marathon and the course happened to pass right past my adjacent street which was quite exciting. My apartment was located near the 20th mile and I was able to roll out of bed early enough to watch the Kenyans run by which I have to say, those guys can run fast. I honestly think their normal stride is as fast as I can sprint, it was incredible to watch. More importantly this was my roommates first Marathon ever and even though he slacked a bit on training he still completed it which is very impressive. I don't think I will ever be able to run 26.2 miles, I'll just ride my motorcycle! Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Last motorcycle ride of the year and bring on the winter.

Recently, the weather in Chicago has been absolutely beautiful and I plan on taking my last, long motorcycle ride of 2011 this Saturday. The weather forecast for this weekend looks phenomenal so I hope everyone in the Chicago land area enjoys it because this winter is apparently going to be a rough one. Also, the Chicago Marathon is this weekend and my roommate is running it so I wish the best of luck to him.
Earlier I read an article that predicts this winter will have a large amount of snow fall with multiple blizzards possible and extremely cold temperatures. The article also said this winter will make people what to move but I have a hard time believing that. People who live in Chicago love the weather extremes. I just wanted to say have a good weekend and enjoy yourselves!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hey everybody

So I haven't posted anything in awhile because I've been super busy these last two weeks but now I have a little time to write. School is getting quite busy but manageable and I was wondering how everyone elses year is going. So tell me how your classes are so far! Also if you're looking for any advise on technology(cell phones, laptops, accessories) just leave a comment and I'll throw in my 2 cents on my other blog! Have a good week everyone, I plan on writing a long one this week!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Riding a bicycle around campus, pros and cons

Recently I have been riding my bicycle to class because my new apartment is a bit further than my place last year and I have to say it's quite nice. I originally had the impression that it would be a hassle locking the bike and finding a place to park but lucky my campus is fairly equipment with many "bike areas" and I wouldn't be surprised if all campuses are like this. Here's what I have learned after a month of riding....

- You can sleep-in an extra 15 minutes.
- You can bypass any people that would otherwise stop you and ask you to sign their partition against hurting "insert plant/animal/gender/culture" in "insert country".
- You are now part of the elite group of bicycle hipsters, unfortunately this is also a negative.
- Overall you save a good amount of time otherwise spent walking.

- Every car on the rode is trying to kill you.... Even the people parked on the side of the road... They will intentionally open their doors when you are passing by.
- Everyone will ask you about your bike when you could care less because you bought it on sale at Wal-Mart.
- Rain and water is the enemy. I suggest buying fenders.
- If you buy a mountain bike you will feel it necessary to jump every curb possible, even if it's entirely out of the way, which leads to the overall destruction of the bike (because it was purchased at Wal-Mart)

These are just some simple things I suggest you think about before you bring a bike to campus. I personally enjoy jumping all the curbs so I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Freshman year away from home

Leaving home and being on your own can be very difficult especially if aren't very independent. Personally, I was very independent when I left for college so I had a very smooth transition but some of my friends found it problematic being away from home. One of my best friends knew exactly what he wanted to do after high school. He found the perfect school in the perfect town and was very confident with the choices he made. I told him that he should at least apply to other schools and think about having a backup plan if Zoology/Biology didn't work out for him, but he told me that was exactly what he wanted to do and there wouldn't be a point in looking into other schools. He ended his Freshman year with a 4.0 GPA and a severe case of depression. After the summer he returned for Sophomore and within a few months was having suicidal thoughts, in which the school placed him in one of their correctional programs, basically a prison for students. After coming back home, he went to the doctor and has been doing a lot better which I am grateful for but unfortunately, now that he has his head on straight has changed majors, changed colleges, and now has to basically start over because his new college won't accept the credits from his old college, mainly because it was a specialty institution(not having a wide variety of major). Just because you think you know exactly what you want doesn't mean you can't plan for the worst. Having a backup is very important in my opinion and it's something that everyone should at least consider. Also a good balance of school and fun is needed in order to now get too stressed.

My freshman year started with a change in relationship and a new understanding of independence. Most colleges "require" you to stay in a dorm freshman year unless you plan to be a commuter, but honestly if I could do it over I would have found an apartment from the beginning. The main reason they want you to stay in a dorm is so you can meet other people but if you are social at all you will meet plenty of people in your classes. Most dorms are extremely over priced so instead of going more in debt look into commuting or finding a cheap apartment. As I have said before in an older post, going into your Freshman year in a relationship can very problematic because you will meet a lot more people in which the opportunity to find someone more appealing is very likely. Going to parties and meeting people is all part of the game called college so it is important to have an open mind initially, but as time goes on you will start to hang out with specific people and friendships with develop, just like an adult version of high school.

College can very stressful at times but if you keep an open mind it can also be a lot of fun. Being responsible and making logical decisions in key for a successful college experience.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Upcoming blogs

Hey everyone, hopefully you all had a great weekend I just wanted to say sorry I haven't posted anything recently I've been extremely busy. Very soon I'm going to write about my experience with finding an apartment for college and my different college experiences in general. Have a good week everyone!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Something hilarious my friend Austin sent me today.

So this blog is mainly meant for my experiences but my buddy Austin sent me this picture that was taken on campus and I couldn't resist sharing it with everyone. Enjoy!
This was the caption he used in the text so I'm giving him all the credit. I literally started laughing when he sent it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First week of junior year done, we're off and running.

So another summer has passed by and this school year is starting to sink into reality. I'm taking 18 credit hours this semester so it's going to be a busy one. After making it through the first week it's pretty apparent this year is going to be tough, but I'm just going to have to ride it out and suffer like everyone else. On a side note, I turn 21 in roughly 2 months so that's pretty exciting I guess, but not really. Anyone have any funny 21st birthday stories? Anyway I'm going to be writing about my first 2 years of college soon but I've been pretty busy this week so hopefully I find some more time to write. Hope everyone had a fun and safe weekend, peace.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surviving your freahman year of college.

Freshman year is usually tough for everyone and some don't make the cut of returning for a second, but it is quite easy for an intelligent and fully capable person to get caught in the freedom of decision. Below are my tips for surviving the year, in an academic sense, and if I would have followed these simple rules I would have done a lot better.

Easy tips to follow:
1. ALWAYS go to class. Even if you don't take notes if you pay attention the material will stay in your head.
2. Manage your time and have a plan for the day. Knowing what you're going to do that day is very helpful because you get more done while not wasting time.
3. Get to know your TA on a first name basis. I can't tell you how many times the TA gave me extra points on an exam or even told me what was going to be on the test just because I was friends with them.
4. Analyze the course's syllabus to understand the worth of each project/assignment/test. Every point counts and the small assignments can really add up.
5. Map out the course of the semester. Knowing when every assignment is due can be very helpful and I found that if you buy the large calenders it is easy to write everything out. Being able to visualize what is due a month in advance is very helpful.
6. Do the homework. There is a reason teacher give homework, the extra practice from the assignments definitely helps in the long run.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New blog, Check it out!

Hey all, I started a new blog reviewing the smartphones I've had/used before so check it out if you're into that goodness!

Long Beach, California and IEEE

Last week I attended the IEEE Symposium in Long Beach, CA. The IEEE, which stands for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is one of the largest groups of Electrical Engineers in the world. Because I am studying Electrical Engineering, going to these yearly symposiums puts me a step ahead of most in my field. Anyone studying Electrical Engineering should definitely become part of the IEEE.

This was my first trip to California and I have to say it is a very beautiful part of the United States. The best part by far was the weather, it was roughly 80 degrees and sunny everyday with a slight breeze. The trip started off quite interestingly because Vince Vaughn was on our plane from Chicago to Long Beach. He was the first to board the plane and Virgin America airplanes don't have a separate cabin for the first class passengers so I literally walked right past him and we made eye contact, which to say the least was pretty cool. The only other celebrity I saw in California was Aries Spears doing stand up comedy at the Laugh Factory right next to my hotel. Aries Spears was very funny and I've watched him since his MADtv days. California was very beautiful and I want to pictures to do most of the talking for me so I've kept this blog brief.

This week I plan on talking about my Freshman and Sophomore year is college, so that just something to look forward to.