Saturday was my long awaited return to homebrewing. It has certainly felt like a long time since I’ve gone through the process; however, it all came back to me when I got down to business. One thing I didn’t expect was that the more interesting aspect of the brew was actually attempting to get all of my ingredients together.
I laid out my entire recipe for my brew in my previous post. It seemed like a good recipe and I really didn’t get any feedback that would have altered the base recipe too much. I did receive some feedback on my yeast and also on my ideas with coffee and possibly vanilla, but the steeping grains, malts, and hops seemed to be alright with everyone else. Therefore, I headed out to the store Friday afternoon to pick up all of my ingredients. Little did I know my recipe would be changing quite a bit.
DC is starting to become a craft beer lovers paradise. We have new breweries starting up every few months, good beer bars, and our first ever homebrew store within the city limits. Therefore, in an attempt to keep it local, we decided to forgo our typical homebrew store and check out this new location in DC. The store seems like a cool idea. 3 Star Brewing Co opened it seemingly simultaneously with the opening of their actual brewery. Heading up there, into the industrial park it’s located in, you basically walk right onto the brewing floor to get your stuff.
Walking in I immediately knew I would regret my decision to try a store just getting its feet under it. Don’t get me wrong, they had some good things there; however, I would quickly learn their supplies were still lacking. Our first stop was to pick up our grain. At our typical store, I fill out a sheet and keep shopping. By the end of the trip the grain is bagged and ready to go. Here you walk around to different buckets with the guy and he essentially eyeballs the amounts. Then you help him mill it into different bags. Certainly not the easiest of processes. They didn’t have the 150 or 45 Crystal I needed, so I took it down to 120 and 40. Not sure how it will affect things. It ended up taking near half an hour to just do grains. Next we moved on to hops. They had my Magnum hops; however, they didn’t have Crystal, so I had to make a last minute substitution to Liberty. Finally, I had planned on using a Wyeast, but I ended up having to go with White Labs because that’s what they carried. I would have been better prepared for this substitution, but I was on the spot so I went with the Irish Ale yeast. Finally I had to grab my liquid malt extracts. One of the nicest aspects of my regular store is that they have big buckets of the extract that they use to measure out specific amounts. Here I had to buy prepackaged quantities. In the hopes of being somewhat cost efficient, I cut down on my Light malt and upped my Munich malt due to the prepackaged aspect of everything. All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip, but it was long and somewhat frustrating. It’s not that I won’t ever go back, but I’m thinking I’ll give it a little more time to work out the kinks.
The other interesting trip was to pick up the coffee for my additional ingredients. I bought the main brewing ingredients Friday night, but I failed to go purchase the coffee portion that night. So I got up and headed out to a local coffee shop to pick up my coffee. I didn’t want to go grab some Starbucks or Maxwell House or something, so I went to the most unique coffee house I could think of: Peregrine Espresso. Having never actually grabbed coffee there, I was more hopeful that it would need my needs. It was quite the experience. There was a line out the door, and the friendly girl at the counter was more than helpful when I told her it was for brewing beer. She seemed to even debate with herself whether she would grind it at a 6 or 6.5. Not being a coffee expert, I left it up to her. I ended up getting one called Concepcion Huista from Huehuetenang0, Guatemala. It smelled awesome, and it said it had clear floral notes of fresh fruit and chocolate. I’m still confused how they make flavors like that grow in a bean, but I’m glad I got to reap the benefits.
The actual brewing process was great. It went off with no problems, and it was a fun social time with my friend John. The product is now bubbling away in my basement waiting to be transferred over to secondary. I have a feeling I will be picking up some vanilla this weekend. I don’t want to include a whole lot, but I want a very light vanilla flavor to compliment the coffee.
Oh, and I decided on a name as well. I’ll be naming it after one of the more interesting Vigilantes of the past few years. My newest brew will be called Dark Passenger Coffee Stout. It’s a killer!