Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 35

DRINK AND BE MERRY You’ll have to decide whether you want to bottle or keg your beer. Kegging requires more equipment and is less portable, but it is easy to carbonate (with a bottle of carbon dioxide) and your beer will be ready to drink more quickly. Bottling requires bottles, a capper (some bottles have swing top caps), and extra sugar (called priming sugar) for carbonating your beer in the bottle. Again there are many differ- ent ways for adding sugar to the bottles for this purpose. You can add it directly to the beer before bottling or directly to the bottle. There are sugar tablets you can buy that are the exact measurement for each bottle. Most of the time there’s enough live yeast in the beer for fer- mentation, but in some circumstances live yeast needs to be added. Always follow directions exactly. Too much sugar will over carbonate, and you could have exploding bottles and a big mess. I’ve talked with a lot of people who have tried home brewing... once. The beer was bad, and they never tried again. Making bad beer can be a big letdown. All that effort put in to just dump it down the drain. Don’t let minor setbacks deter you from what could be a fun and rewarding hobby. There are many things that can cause off fla- vors in beer, but the most common cause is also the easiest to avoid: bad sanitation. Sanitation is a big priority in making tasty beer. There are all kinds of wild bacteria and yeasts that would love to find its way into that beer. Don’t let them! There are many sanitizers avail- able at your home brew store that are effective and easy to use. After the boil, everything that touches that wort or beer needs to soak in a sanitizing solution. Oxidation is another common flaw, as it tends to give the beer a stale flavor similar to wet cardboard. Oxygen is vital to the yeast during fermentation, but after that, you want to keep it away. When kegging your beer, use your bottled carbon dioxide to purge oxygen from the keg and any other vessel where you move the beer. Bottle carbonating your beer is a good safeguard against oxida- tion. The yeast consumes all available oxygen while making all of those bubbles, keeping the beer fresher for longer. Home brew supply shops can be found all over the web where you can get your supplies shipped to your home. Brick and mortar stores are a great experience as well. Good stores are staffed by knowledge- able people who can help you get started and offer advice to the novice as well as to more experienced brewers. I loved my home brew shop in Houston, DeFalco’s. I would go in and create a recipe on the Michael Kubara’s Superbrew 5000 spot, tasting the malt varieties available to formulate the right com- bination; checking out the new instruments and equipment; buying the necessities and making a wish list. They usually had some good home brew on tap as well. Bonus! Home brewing can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. Many brewers find the craft such a great hobby because there is always more you can learn, more you can build, more you can do. There’s always something new that no one’s ever done before. Will it work? Who knows? Test it out. Michael and I became better and better brewers, entering our beer into competitions and winning medals. As passions go, Allison and I got married (with plenty of home brew at the wedding, of course), and it wasn’t long before Michael and I found ourselves working in the beer business. I went into sales for a craft beer distributor, and Michael went to work for Saint Arnold Brewing, eventually becom- ing head brewer there. He then hired me, became my boss and we were brewing together again, albeit on a much bigger scale. Now he’s brewery manager at Oskar Blues Austin, and Allison and I came to East Texas to open a pub. While here, I found a group of home brewers that I like to join on occasion. Two of the more avid brewers, Bobby Kubara and his son Michael, come in to the pub fre- quently, often bringing fresh bottles of their brews to sample and share. They’re always happy to talk about their craft with anyone interested, while encouraging the curious to take up the hobby. Bobby, a retired princi- pal, dove into home brewing with abandon. Over the years he has developed, built, and is constantly updating his brewery, aptly named the “Superbrew 5000,” a two-tier steel structure complete with propane burn- ers, modified beer kegs, electric powered pump, heating element, thermometers, and hard-piped plumbing that is easy to operate. He is currently looking into adding com- puter programing. Home brewing, he’ll tell you, “can be as cheap or as expensive as your spouse will allow.” Courtesy photos Michael Kubara and Chris Keller working at Kubara’s home brewery. JANUARY 2019 35