Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paul David Mena - "homebrew"

After you have your supplies, brewing your own beer can be much cheaper than store-bought beer. I should know. I brewed a batch of Old Mayodan back in the 80s. (Now where did I put that beer making kit?)

Paul David Mena shares a beer recipe and a poem with us today. He writes:

I brewed this recipe on Father's Day this year, knowing that the beer would be ready in time for my birthday in August.  The ingredients and recipe came from Strange Brew Beer & Winemaking Supplies in Marlborough, MA, although I made a number of substitutions when it came to the selection of hops and the yeast.  Sadly, I'm down to the final half-gallon growler.

I wrote the poem "homebrew" for a good friend and fellow home brewer (he gave me a homemade mash tun as a wedding gift) and had the privilege of reading it at his wedding a few years later.



Malt Base: 4 lb (can) Mountmellick LIGHT Liquid, 2 lb. English EXTRA-LIGHT DME Specialty Grains (crushed): 1 lb. Rye, 8 oz. Light Crystal, 4 oz. Wheat Hops: 1 oz. Nugget (bittering), 1 oz. Chinook (flavor), 1 oz. Citra (aroma) Yeast: Wyeast Liquid  #1056 American Ale, Irish Moss, Gypsum, Priming Sugar

Brewing kettle
Mesh bag (for grains)
Glass carboy (fermentation vessel)
rubber or plastic stopper
air lock
siphoning cane
plastic tubing
long-handled wooden spoon
bottles (I use half-gallon "growlers")
bottle caps
sanitizer (I use B-Brite)
bottling bucket


One of the basic chores of brewing beer involves not just cleaning, but sanitizing everything that will come into contact with the beer while it's fermenting.  During this period, home brew is highly susceptible to infection by bacteria, which can produce off flavors or even make you sick!  I use B-Brite, a powerful cleanser used by commercial breweries and available at any brewing supply store.  I sanitize my 5-gallon carboy, which will house the unfermented beer (called "wort") until it's time to be bottled.  I also sanitize the rubber stopper, the air lock, and any plastic tubing and funnels I might use.  When ready to bottle, take the same precautions with bottles, caps, the bottling bucket, siphoning cane and any tubing.


1) Remove the crushed grains from the package and place in the mesh bag.  Tie the bag at the end to allow for maximum circulation.  Place the bag in 2 gallons of cold water, slowly heating to 160 degrees.  Hold at steady temperature for 10 minutes, and then discard (or compost) the grains.

2) Add the malt extract and stir well to dissolve.  Be careful. Don't let it scorch the bottom of the kettle.  Once fully dissolved, bring the kettle to a rapid boil.

     a) add the bittering hops and continue to boil for another 30 minutes.
     b) add the flavor hops and continue to boil for another 20 minutes.
     c) add the aroma hops and the Irish Moss and boil for an additional 5-10 minutes (total boil time 55-60 minutes)

3) Fill the fermentation vessel with 3 gallons of cold water.  Slowly pour the unfermented beer (wort) into the fermentation vessel.  Try to leave any hops or other residue in the bottom of the kettle.  Add enough additional water to fill the fermentation vessel, if necessary.

4) Let the wort cool down to room temperature before adding yeast.  Add the rubber stopper and airlock, filling the airlock halfway with water.  Make sure the seal is tight - your wort will be in the vessel for 2 or 3 weeks.  Active fermentation should begin within 24 to 48 hours and should last for about a week.  If you have a secondary fermentation vessel, you may wish to transfer the wort to it once fermentation slows.  Otherwise, your beer should be ready to bottle in 2 or 3 weeks.


5) When ready to bottle, boil 5 ounces of priming sugar in a cup of water for about a minute and add to the bottom of the bottling bucket.  Remove the airlock from the fermentation vessel and use the siphoning cane and plastic tubing to siphon the beer into the bottling bucket.  From the bottling bucket, fill each bottle to about one inch from the top and cap.

6) Store the beer at room temperature or cooler for two or three weeks to allow for carbonation.  I waited over a month to try mine!

7) Drink.  Repeat.


most of the time
when you combine 
a randomly selected set of ingredients
you get a mess!
there's nothing scientific about it.
on the other hand
there are those rare occasions
when the ingredients seemingly find one another
combining instinctively
with purpose and forethought
such that the whole is infinitely greater
than the sum of its parts.
the end result
is as refreshing as it is intoxicating
ideal in times of celebration
as well as quiet reflection.
this - and nothing else - is the true Holy Grail.
here, therefore, is a toast:
may your yields be high
may your carmelization be minimal
and may your tap never run dry.

1 comment:

  1. Great to read a beer recipe here! I've never used rye grain, so must give that a try. And what a great poem - thank you Paul and Curtis :-)