Home Brewing! It’s something every beer geek eventually wants to try, but once an assessment is made of all the equipment that is required, the sterilization needed, the time and energy involved, blah blah blah, it usually becomes easier just to BUY Bell’s Hopslam at the liquor store, rather than try to replicate it. As luck would have it, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have ignored all these potential road blocks, and have all the necessary equipment to do a five gallon batch of home brew!
Our first attempt began in April 2014 with a kit purchased of West Coast Imperial IPA. While I generally love all types of beers, like most beer geeks these days, I definitely gravitate towards the IPA’s and Stouts. Our kit included a Briess Carmel malt base, with Summit and Cascade hops, and Danstar American West Coast Ale yeast. The brewing process was successfully done outside, during surprisingly decent weather for April in Minnesota.
Next up was bottling in May. But what to call our debut beer? As if the beer naming gods were shining down on us during the process, while listening to our local sports radio station during bottling, an announcement had been made about a scratched horse from the Kentucky Derby – Hopportunity. PERFECT! And with that, Hopportunity Knocks was born! Yes, it came to our attention that Caldera Brewing Company in Oregon had already thought of our great beer name, but since these beers were only for personal consumption and not sale, we stuck with it! Now we needed a “brewery” name. Since my brother-in-laws and sister-in-law were all involved in the brewing process, and two of their first names conveniently start with vowels, we unofficially formed S.T.E.A.D. Brewing Co. (Steve, Trevor, Ernie, Annie, Dave). After another month of PATIENTLY waiting, the first sample exceeded all our expectations and actually tasted like an IPA I would buy. Samples to friends and family yielded similar results – maybe we were on to something?!
So, we decided to try again this fall, with the same West Coast IPA kit. However, this time, we were able to procure some fresh whole leaf Centennial hops. On a foggy November Sunday morning, again with unusually warmer weather for a November in Minnesota, during the second match up of the season for the Vikings and Packers, we brewed again outside . This time, with a nice “dry hop” addition of the Centennial hops added right before fermentation was to begin. Two weeks later, we added another dry hop addition, and to start the New Year out right, bottling of “Foghop” took place on January 3rd. 39 wonderful 12 ounce bottles were yielded. Stay tuned for the first sample in mid-February!
Next up, the St. Paul Winter Carnival Beer Dabbler. An event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds midway area where 150 breweries show off their latest selections! Last year’s event saw 7,000 people sampling beers in -20 degree weather! Other than many keg lines freezing, the event was a great success and I can’t wait to return this weekend.