I told them I had a cream ale kit, when in fact it was a cream stout kit. And then, thanks to another brilliant oversight on my part, we put the specialty grain bag in five gallons of water, when the kit was designed for a one gallon batch.
If I had encountered these roadblocks on my own, I probably would have flipped a proverbial table, abandoned the project and stomped off to play Mario Kart. Thankfully Nathan and Greg were there to help brainstorm ways to improvise around my unintentional blunders, so the project pressed on.
After adding about six pounds of two-row, a pound of organic coconut sugar, as well as two small batches of Northern Brewer hops at the 60-minute and 20-minute marks, we ended up with what we hoped would be a sessionable brown ale I named Jackie Brown's Unbroken Ankle.
By the end of brewing day, I was so excited. I made something that looked like it could be a real beer. But would it actually taste like a beer?
Things were looking good a couple of weeks ago, when it came time to bottle my beer at Nathan’s, where my darling Jackie Brown had been living. There was no carbonation yet, but a quick taste test revealed a nice little brown ale that almost reminded me a bit of root beer.
At this juncture, I should note brewing will teach you a lot about patience, something I’m not terribly good at; I’m a big fan of immediate results, and I loathe waiting.
Brewing days are super fun, but like Nathan said in my column last week, “I mean, brewing days are mostly sitting around with friends, drinking beer and waiting for timers to go off.” And then you wait weeks for your beer to ferment. Then you bottle (or keg) your beer and wait some more.
So yeah, waiting is the operative word here.
Well, all of that waiting paid off. The beer tastes delicious, and it’s only getting better as it continues to age. I’m really psyched about this for two reasons. Here’s the first reason, as I mentioned in that very same column:
It’s satisfying to sit down and drink something I made — with the help of friends, of course. I feel like a caveman who has made fire for the first time, except, you know, without making strides for all of mankind with my creation. Lack of historical significance notwithstanding, however, it’s still an awesome feeling.
Second, I had close to three dozen bottles of Jackie Brown’s Unbroken Ankle, so if it sucked, it was going to be a long, depressing drainpour party at the Murphy residence.
I think it’s safe to say I’m jazzed to brew again — I’m having a great time researching different styles and recipes. And to those of you out there who have ever thought about homebrewing, there’s no harm in giving it a try. Let my experience serve as a positive example: If I can do it without setting fire to myself, others or the whole of Annapolis, you’ve got a good shot at being super successful at it, too.