Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a model-aeroplane craze. Kits consisted of flat-pack plastic parts which you painted and then stuck together to create a miniature display-model of a variety of different planes. My brother and I built several during our childhood.
Building our planes always happened in the exactly same way. The first step was ignoring my mother’s instance that we “WAIT UNTIL WE’RE HOME”. The box got ripped open in the car, sending tiny plastic wheels and cockpit seats flying in all directions. Inevitably the little paper with all the instructions written on it got smashed down between the car seats.
Despite the lack of directions, our model aeroplanes turned out more-or-less resembling the picture on the box. To this day I don’t feel the need to read that little pamphlet which comes with a purchase telling you what and how you’re supposed to be doing something. I could figure out a flat-pack model aeroplane at age 8 – I really don’t need instructions.
My hobbies have changed since then but my requirement for instructions has not.
I started brewing my own beer about 2 ½ years ago. In that time I’ve discovered that unless you’re doing something really unusual it’s really not that difficult to figure it out. Kits (for beginners) and “extract brews” (for intermediates) follow roughly the same standard procedure: add ingredients at specific times, certain chemical reactions happen at precise moments and the time specified between each of the various steps doesn’t vary too much from recipe to recipe. Using this as a blueprint you can basically just make the rest up as you go along.
Besides, isn’t that what craft beer is all about? Being creative and producing something unique – “crafting” the beer. The answer is “yes”. Who needs instructions for that!
I’ve made some delicious brews since I started however my most famous to date had a sweet, malty flavour with fruity esters and a delightful dark amber colour in the finished product. It was dubbed “Oven Beer” after the brewing technique I used to create it.
The recipe is below but if you’re anything like me, you really don’t need the instructions for this one – it’s really super easy. If you’re a stickler for the rules though, I’ve provided the precise steps required to recreate my signature home brew.
- 3kg Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
- 1kg Dry Malt Extract (DME)
- Steeping Grains: 200g Crystal 40°L; 200g Crystal 120°L; 200g Roasted Barley
- Hops: 50g Kent Goldings 5%
- Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05
- The usual combo of Brew Salts, Kettle Finings and Beer Yeast Nutrient
- Get your biggest pot out of the cupboard (the one you’ve used successfully for every brew until now)
- Heat 2 litres of water to exactly 70°C. Remove from heat and add crushed grains, leaving to soak for 30 minutes.
- Forget to put the timer on. Get distracted by something in the garden.
- Suddenly remember your brew and return to the kitchen.
- Remove grains from water and top the pot up to 6 litres. Think to yourself, “this pot seems a bit small today” while bringing to a rolling boil.
- Add your LME. As you’re adding it realise that yes, this pot is too small. Not all of the LME is going to fit.
- Remember that these ingredients have cost quite a bit of money and you need to keep going, so top up with as much LME as you can (right to the brim of the pot) and bring back to boil.
- Realise that your pot is now too full to deal with “hot break” (a chemical reaction in your brew that results in something rivalling rapidly expanding foam exploding off the top of the brew).
- Look desperately for your spray bottle of water to control “hot break”.
- Fail because you can never bloody find anything in this damn house.
- Look back over at the stove as, in slow motion, “hot break” starts.
- Stare helplessly at the resulting pyroclastic flow over the side of the pot, off the side of the stove, down the cupboard doors and into the oven.
- Escalate your swearing as you fail to contain the boiling, sugary liquid which is now running all over the kitchen floor.
- Aim hops at pot and throw from the other side of the kitchen. Boil for 50 minutes.
- Be threatened with divorce if you don’t stop swearing.
- In the small amount of space now available thanks to the eruption, dump whatever leftover ingredients you still have into the pot. They won’t all fit, but try anyway.
- Stop caring.
- Boil for a further 10 minutes.
- Transfer to fermenter and bring temperature down to 19°C.
- Add yeast.
- Spend the rest of the weekend scrubbing the oven and tile grout with a toothbrush.
- Feel nostalgic about simpler pursuits like model aeroplanes.
There you go. More steps than the average brew recipe, but it’s really worth it in the end. This beer was absolutely delicious – everybody said so.
Let me know how it turns out. Good luck and enjoy!