Monday, January 27, 2014

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 118: Brew (and drink) homemade beer

There’s nothing wrong with a grown man responsibly enjoying a beer every once in a while, and I have to admit that I enjoy drinking one occasionally myself. Apparently, I’m not by myself either because beer has been around for a long, long time, possibly as far back as nearly 10,000 B.C. Brewing beer is an age old and relatively simple process, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, which is why I added it to my “bucket list” a few years ago.

However, up until last May, home brewing in Alabama was illegal, that is it was until the passage of a new state law that now allows hobbyists in the state to make beer in their homes. Under the new law, Alabama residents can now legally make 15 gallons of beer at home every three months, but they can’t legally sell it. The law does allow home brewers to take their products to tastings and contests.

In December, my wife contributed to my delinquency by buying me a “Mr. Beer Premium Gold Edition Beer Home Brewing Kit," which came with everything I needed to make two different types of beer. The kit only lets you make up to two gallons at a time, which kept me well within the limits of the law, and if nothing else, the experience was very educational. Best of all, the kit included a great set of instructions that not only tells you how to make beer, but also makes the reader familiar with the basic principles of brewing.

For my first venture into brewing, I decided to try to make a couple of gallons of Grand Bohemia Czech Pilsner, a premium all-malt beer with about 3.7 percent alcohol by volume. I followed the instructions and then waited patiently for about three weeks for the process to run its course. After the brewing process was complete, I poured the beer from the two-gallon keg into four one-liter plastic bottles that came with the kit. Over the next week, I waited some more to give the beer time to carbonate.

Curiosity did get the better of me, and I admit to trying some of the beer straight out of the keg and uncarbonated. As you might have imagined, it was flat, but it didn’t taste bad. It sort of reminded me of a strong apple juice, except that it contained alcohol. A week or so later, I tried the carbonated, bottled variety, and it was better than I expected. (Imagine drinking a fresh, regular Coke compared to a flat Coke, and you get the idea.)

Before I wrap this thing up, I want to make it clear that I don’t advocate that anyone drink alcohol. However, if you do, don’t be an idiot. Drink responsibly and only in moderation and never drink and drive. The late Dr. Carl Martens of Monroeville once told me that the average man can drink two beers a day without it having any negative impact on their health, so follow his advice and limit your beer intake to two or fewer a day.

In the end, how many of you have ever tried to brew beer at home? How did it come out? What kind did you try to make? Let us know in the comments section below.

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