Kid just loves him some cows (komos) wrote,
Kid just loves him some cows

Chaos Brewing 101

In my closet, tucked behind the heavy winter coats, there are two fermenters happily burbling away. Sunday, a small meeting of minds and hands recreated recipes for a pseudo-Oktoberfest (ModernBrewer) and a Mugwort Ale (Buhner). For my first attempt at brewing without the Mentor, things went surprisingly well, though not without incident. In the school of chaos brewing in which I’ve been trained, no day would be complete without bizarre and unexpected occurrences.

I got up early and did most of the cleaning and sanitizing prior to the arrival of any guests. Once Sonya and Sean appeared, the equipment was air-drying and the ingredients for the Oktoberfest had been laid out. I made breakfast – french toast, strawberry compote, caramelized pears and coffee – so we could begin the day with happy stomachs. We ate, talked about pottery and vegetarianism and job hunting, cleaned up, and got the wort to boiling. All that went off without a hitch.

Stage 1: Equipment Failure
The problems began when I accidentally nudged one of the carboys with my knee as I walked past it. It was barely a tap, but it was enough to knock it into the other next to it at what I’ve guessed was a particularly sweet spot. There was a kind of glass-on-glass CLUM followed by a quiet shattering noise, and when I looked down, I saw that a hole that was as big as my head had been knocked into the glass just below the neck of the carboy. This was less than pleasing, especially since the carboy was one of the legacy fermenters that Clay had left behind.

Stage 2: Lost in the Jungle
This all got cleaned away by the time we hopped the wort. My team left to retrieve two new members, leaving me to inspect the second carboy for glass fragments and tend to the fire. I left the kitchen to take a call from Pete, who called me with his spotty cell. As I attempted to figure out who he was based solely on hearing every third syllable he spoke, the wort hit critical mass and boiled over. A sticky hop resin coated the pot, the burner, the stove, the toaster, the (list goes on…) I managed to clean most of the mess and get the pot to a new burner by the time everyone else arrived. This was where I cracked my first beer. I deserved it.

Stage 3: Snake Attack!
The wort cooled sufficiently, and we began to siphon. This was proceeding smoothly until Drew stepped away from the pot momentarily. The end of the hose that had been in the pot slid out, and then the weirdness happened. Somehow, as I tried to reach for it, the other end drooped into the wort in the funnel and the flow reversed itself, arcing a spray of not-quite-beer in a most distressing way.

Stage 4: Dropsy
The hops pellets turned out to be a little more prolific than I had anticipated and we ended up creating a dual filtration system to cope with the funnel clogging that was happening. As we were working with this, Jen very suddenly said, “I think I need to sit down” and then staggered (with assistance) towards the living room. The official report is that she swooned, though there is some suspicion that there was a certain degree of dehydration involved.

So in spite of it all, this batch and another were successfully completed. We drank and talked well into the night, somehow surviving on beer, cheese, and bread. This all made me happy.

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