Homebrew Batch 1: Texas Belgian

One of the best things about being out of school for first time in about 6 years is having some time to pursue some new hobbies. Two or three years ago, I got equipment for brewing from J’s parents for xmas, but I’ve never had the time to actually use any of it. Over the summer, I was able to spend some time with my friend Driver 2165 and his wife and finally got to see (and taste) some homebrewing in action.¬†Loaded with knowledge, equipment and time, I finally got my first batch going once I got settled in to my new place. I’d like to qualify that brewing is not for lack of beer in Houston. In fact, in quality, price and quantity it’s got to be one of the best beer cities in the US. Our bar of choice is the Flying Saucer, which has like 80 beers on tap.

For my first batch, I went with a Texas style Belgian recipe from DeFalco’s down in Southwest Houston on Bray’s Bayou. The actual experience of getting to the brew shop car free is quite a story. Leave it to say that after several miles of construction detours, 2 hours of biking in 100 degree heat and 99% humidity, some serious dehydration and almost throwing up in a Popeye’s Chicken bathroom, I’ll be ordering kits online until the temperature falls about 20 degrees.

ANYWAY. I finally got everything home and started a batch. Here’s the wort (the unfermented beer) boiling. As an aside, there’s a second epic bike story: I brought that 5 gallon stainless steel pot home from Target in the Heights strapped to the back of my messenger bag. I looked like a turtle.

Following the boil, the beer ferments for anywhere between 2 weeks and a couple months depending on the style. Here’s it is in the secondary fermenter. It’s kept that nice reddish-brown color. After that, you bottle, and then go through the torturous couple weeks of having 50 perfectly good-looking beers sitting in your closet while you’re waiting for them to carbonate. This one actually took a little longer than a couple of weeks, I think because it’s tough to regulate temperature in an apartment (more specifically, it’s tough to find a temperature that both beer and people can agree on).

And finally, here it is ready to drink. It’s really fun to have created something like beer that you don’t usually think of as something that people make at home. As you can see, it kept a nice color. It’s a very drinkable beer with a hint of citrus (there was orange peel and coriander in the recipe).

In a final bit of fun, J and I have branded our beer (as well as the Houston-centric t-shirts I’ve been designing) Houstopia. Our label for this beer, which pays homage to the Astros rainbow guts uniforms along with the city seal, is above.

We’ve currently got a Nutty Brown Ale from Northern fermenting and an Eskimo IPA to start in a couple days. I’m sure I’ll be posting on those as well in the near future.