We don’t pretend to be master brewers, and we don’t yet stray from recipes. Though we just buy the kits and follow the directions, the results have almost always been delicious.
It’s surprisingly easy to brew beer. We found this out after Andy’s mom bought a brew kit (basically some buckets and tubing) for him and his brother-in-law. We bought a boxed kit of ingredients (True Brew makes many varieties) and gave it a try. Our first Red Ale was a success. Since then we’re made Brown Ale, California Wheat Ale and others. We enjoy good beer quite a bit, and brewing is a good way to save money.
We’ve also experimented with hard cider. We made some last fall and have shown much restraint in waiting until today to crack open a bottle (it’s supposed to be best if you wait a year before drinking). Sadly, it’s terrible – very sour. The cider was sour to begin with, and we just added yeast and let it sit. Oh well, maybe next time we’ll figure it out. We’ve never tried wine, but I’m sure we will some day.
In deciding whether or not to brew beer for the wedding, we considered cost, time, effort and space. From a distributor in Augusta we can get a half keg of Magic Hat for $132, Geary’s for $130 or a variety of other beers for similar prices. A half keg yields around 150 12-ounce servings. In contrast, the brew kits we buy cost around $30 each and yield 50 bottles of beer. We would need three of them to get 150 beers, which would cost $90.
Then there’s the time involved. Brewing beer doesn’t take much active time, but there’s quite a bit of waiting. First we heat up and mix together different ingredients, including malt and hops. We pour the wort into a bucket, add yeast, seal the bucket (with an airlock to let air escape) and let it ferment for about a week. Then we add sugar and seal the beer in bottles. We’ve found that the beer takes a couple of months before it tastes good.
We also realized that we’d need somewhere to store 150 beer bottles, and then we’d have to transport them. As you can probably guess, we decided not to do it.
We did decide to brew beer for the wedding party events on Friday. We brewed one batch of Irish Stout and we’ll brew another batch of something different. By the wedding they should be nicely aged.