September 1, 2012 was when we brewed our first batch. The fact that it was the first of the month is likely the only reason I remember the date. Ten years ago I was still young enough that I would receive cash on my birthday from my parents. Ten years ago I used that birthday money to buy my first starter kit and ingredients for my first batch.
The ingredients for my first batch were very simple. Two cans of extract, one pound of English Crystal malt to steep, 1.5 ounces of Cascade hop pellets, and a sachet of Muntons ale yeast. The woman at the homebrew shop asked if I wanted light, amber or dark malt extract. I had no idea what the difference was or exactly what malt extract was. When she said the dark extract would make something vaguely like Guinness, I chose dark.
The kit also came with the 3rd edition of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. After our first brew day, I dug into the book while our beer was fermenting. When Charlie Papazian suggested using half a cup of molasses to prime a five gallon batch of bottle-conditioned beer, we decided it would be a way to add a bit of our own flare to our first batch.
Jennie and I were so excited to try our first batch. Jennie went as far as to design labels. At the time my PC had Photoshop Elements and we were able to recreate her sketch on the computer and print labels. We hand labeled all 50 bottles and patiently waited for the bottles to condition and carbonate.
When we opened our first bottles I had no expectations. Over the last ten years I’ve heard all kinds of stories about brewers who hated their first batch. That wasn’t our experience at all. I was completely blown away. I couldn’t have imagined making something so delicious on a cheap electric stove in a tiny apartment. I was hooked.
For my tenth anniversary I recreated that first batch fairly closely. Instead of using a propane burner or Mash & Boil, I did a stove-top style partial boil on an induction burner. I used Muntons Dark Malt Extract, Crystal 150 (60L) and Safale S-04 ale yeast. On brew day I was a little short on Cascade hops, so I used a blend of Cascade and Sterling.
A couple process changes and improvements from that first batch were treating my tap water with a Camden tablet to remove the chlorine before brewing I also chilled my concentrated wort with an immersion chiller which I didn’t own ten years ago
Instead of bottle conditioning, I keg conditioned. Priming one five-gallon keg instead of bottles requires half the volume of priming sugar, so this batch was primed with 1/4 cup of molasses.
|Something about molasses gives the |
beer such a creamy and persistent head.