Beer, Beer And More Beer

Beer Fermenting

Brewing Beer

 My son, Matt, came to Florida for a few days. Why he would want to leave San Francisco, a medium sized multi-cultural city with hundreds of great restaurants to stay in a trailer park…oops, I mean mobile home community…where Jean and I bring down the average age by several years, I don’t know.

He got here last Wednesday evening. Mom left on Friday to be brother Bill’s office girl up in Michigan so we decided to go out to dinner (Mom, Jean, Matt, Bother Bob…you may know him as Bobbie Butane…and me). Matt brews his own beer and loves to go to “brew pubs” so we decided to go to St. Sebastiaan’s, a Belgian brew pub about 6 miles North on US-19.

They have great food and some excellent beers but, for the first time, the service was lousy. We got there at 5:45, just in time to get the geezer early bird prices. Our waiter took our drink order about 10 minutes later. He finally got back to us with our drinks at about 6:10 and was ready to take our food order, 10 minutes after the early bird prices ended. We asked him about the early bird prices and he said it would be no problem.

Our food showed up at 7. The drinks were to be two for one and we didn’t have the second one yet, he had forgotten to bring us bread or rolls and, when he finally brought the second drinks, he forgot mine. One of the beers was a specialty brew that changed periodically. When Matt asked him what the current selection was, he said “Read to me what the menu says”. When we read it to him, he said “I think it’s called Specialty Brew”. Duh!!!

Brother Bob had gone outside to have a smoke, ran into a couple from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan looking for property and, since Bob sells real estate, it wasn’t all lost time. When the bill came, I looked it over, and the three meals that were ordered from the early bird menu were at regular prices, a difference of about $7. I could have just paid the bill and taken the $7 from the waiter’s tip, but his tip was going to be meager anyway, so I complained. That sent Bob out again for another smoke.

The bill was changed, the tip was embarrassingly low, and we left. Oh, well, the food was good, the time spent with family was great, and the beer was good. I said the food was good, but found out from Brother Bob that he awoke at about 2AM with severe stomach pain and barely made it to the bathroom. As he sat there unable to leave, he felt the urge, grabbed the wastebasket, and barfed up his Seafood Fettuccini.

Matt and I brewed beer in San Francisco the day before we swam the Tiburon Mile. I got a lot of brewing equipment for Christmas so we decided to brew a batch here. Matt looked over my shoulder so I could do it by myself when I get back to Michigan.

We needed a brew pot and used beer kegs (half barrels) make great ones, but are often hard to find. Many stores have them but they’re the property of the beer brewer or distributor and can’t legally be sold. We called around and found one in Brooksville, about 25 miles away, that the distributor wouldn’t take back. It’s perfect for what we need. All they wanted was the normal keg deposit ($20). Regular brew pots average around $150 so we felt lucky and it was legal, so I could sleep at night. We (Matt) cut a hole in the top, drilled a hole in the side for a spigot, and were ready to brew.

One of the attached pictures is the keg on top of a gas stove in the last few minutes of a 90 minute boil. The contraption sticking out of the top is a chiller, one that Matt and I made last summer. It’s coiled copper tubing with plastic tubing that hooks up to a hose, and more plastic tubing to drain off the hot water. It’s not pretty, but it does the job.

The other picture is of the 5 gallons of beer fermenting in the closet. It will stay there for a week or two until it is ready to be bottled. Once the bottling is done, it should be a couple of months before the beer is ready to drink. The recipe is for an Irish Red. It won’t be exactly like a Killian’s, but hopefully will be better. I’m finding out that it would have been cheaper to sit in a lounge chair all day, go to the ABC liquor store, and buy a six pack of Killian’s, but where’s the fun in that.

Get ready to hoist a few!

Just (Not Ready To Compete With Budweiser Yet) Jack

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