December 2006 - First batch - (Batch #1)
It all started at Christmas 2006 when I was given a Mr. Beer kit by my inlaws for Christmas (I think it was my wife's idea). It appeared to be an innocent gift which would involve a small project to make a batch of beer. It turned out to be so much more.
I started the first batch as soon as I got home. The nice thing about a Mr. Beer kit is that it's cheap and it doesn't require any special equipment. However, the downside is the quality of the results. A month after I started, I had 20 bottles of Pale Ale in plastic bottles. I could tell I was going to need some more serious equipment to continue with this so I ordered a basic starter kit and an extract recipe kit from Northern Brewer.
January 2007 - First extract kit - (Batch #2)
While watching the Bears make their Superbowl run, I made my first extract batch using a partial boil and chilling it in the kitchen sink. This batch was bottled in glass bottles and the results were much better than the Mr. Beer.
February 2007 - Full Boil - (Batch #4)
I upgraded the kitchen stock pot I had been using to a 30 qt. stainless steel
one. I also made an immersion chiller out of 30 feet of 3/8" copper tubing. These two equipment upgrades allowed me to do full 5 gallon boils.
March 2007 - Wine - (Wine batch #1)
I attempted to expand into wine production, however my attempt at using a Merlot wine kit was a complete failure. I now have 25 bottles of very bad wine sitting in the 'celar'.
April 2007 - Apfelwein / Sake - (Wine batch #2)
I made another attempt at a wine and this time used EdWort's Apfelwein recipe
. This one turned out much better.
At this point I also tried to make Sake. However I wasn't able to get past the first step of making Koji, so I gave up on it.
July 2007 - All Grain & Kegging - (Batch #12)
I upgraded to setup to use all grain instead of extracts. The mash tun / lauter tun was constructed from a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler and a copper manifold. I got 81% efficiency on the first run. From this point on, all brew day activities were carried out outside.
This month I also got the equipment needed to keg the beer instead of bottle it: a C02 tank, a cornelius keg and a Sanyo 4912 refridgerator.
December 2007 - 10 Gallon - (Batch #24)
The system was upgraded again to allow for 10 gallon batches. I got a 62 qt. stainless steel pot
to use as the boil pot. The old 30 qt pot became an HLT. I drilled them out and installed port valves, thermometers and sight glasses to all the equipment.
June 2008 - Slow Down - (Batch #31)
After upgrading to 10G capacity, I managed to overbrew in December and January. I'm brewing again for the first time since January because it took a while to drink the backlog of beer.