On Sunday December 7th, the Tipsy Teachers invited a small group of bloggers, including yours truly, to a homebrewing session lead by their intern Beth. Beth homebrews every couple months, and does the social media for Noble Hop, a local homebrewing supply shop (a trend that’s on the rise in 2015).
Rachel and Ashley, the two young businesswomen who together make the Tipsy Teachers, have transformed their interest in booze into a successful business in just over a year. I have no doubt that they will achieve whatever they put their brilliant minds to. For now, that’s a strong social media presence, and events that focus on pairings, recipes, or learning more about a specific kind of booze.
They told us how The Princess Wears Girlpants (let’s initialism that to PWGP), a seasonal 8.5% Belgian IPA by Ontario’s own Sawdust City Brewing Company, is their favourite beer, and how they obtained the recipe from brewer Aaron Spinney. Spinney told me that Sawdust City brewmaster Sam Corbeil posts all their recipes online, and so many people want to share their clone brews with them that a clone brew contest is in the works. Something about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. I call that great marketing, and beautiful karma. All their hops, malt and yeast strains are also posted right on the bottle, as you can see from this PWGP label:
Homebrewing – once you have the equipment – really does save a substantial amount of money on beer. Beth said that this brew’s ingredients cost roughly $50, and since one five gallon batch of PWGP makes about 27 650 mL bottles, which run for $7.95 each at the LCBO, that’s less than a quarter of the price per bottle.
Basic Brewing Equipment
If you’re new to brewing, it may be useful to start by picking up a 1-gallon brew kit, around $50 at places like Urban Outfitters, BYOB Cocktail Emporium or any homebrew shop. This will come with all your ingredients, and a carboy to age the beer in. Once you’ve decided you’re going to pursue this brewing thing, you’re going to need supplies which will cost you around $200 on the low side. These include storage units, bottling equipment, sanitization essentials and sciencey things like a hydrometer, wort chiller, airlock and warming belt (something that I had never seen before Sunday)! Most homebrew shops offer starting kits at various price points.
There is so much information on the internet about brewing, and so many kinds of beer you can brew, that there is no end to your quest. Go forth and conquer.
The Five Steps of Brewing Beer: all beer basically goes through these steps. As all my university professors did, I recommend looking at Wikipedia to learn the terminology and history of brewing.
- Brew: mill, mash, lauter and sparge, boil.
- Cool and Ferment: cool your wort to room temperature, filter, add yeast, and ferment 1-2 weeks in controlled temperature environment.
- Prime and Bottle: add priming sugar, bottle beer.
- Age: let beer sit in controlled temperature environment 2-6 weeks, depending on style. Beer will develop into something drinkable and (hopefully) mighty tasty.
- Drink and Enjoy: after appropriate aging time, chill that beer and share with all your friends. If the beer sucks, adjust your recipe. It’ll get better. Some styles can be aged quite a while before drinking, but most beers, especially those of the hoppy variety, should be consumed right away.
Beer Bread Recipe* (courtesy of Ashley from Tipsy Teachers)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 12 oz of your favourite stout
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 sprigs rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (for topping)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar + 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon (for topping)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F, then grease your bread pan with butter. 2. Combine flour, baking powder, brown sugar, stout, salt, melted butter and rosemary and mix until just combined. (Use your hands. It will be sticky.) 3. Tuck the ends of the dough underneath itself to form a cylindrical ball. Place dough ball into your greased baking pan. 4. Rub melted butter all over top of dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 5. Remove from pan and allow to sit on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Enjoy!
*This beer bread was absolutely delicious, and Ashley paired it with a stout-based caramel sauce, which was decadent and addictive. Bake this for your guests and they will go home happy!
The event was filled with fun tips and tricks, such as techniques to analyze the aroma of your beer, taught by Rachel:
- The Drive-By – sniff swiftly, left to right
- The Bloodhound – stick your nose right in your glass, like a dog
We also got to taste the wort (beer broth before yeast is added) at various stages in the brewing process, which helped people understand how adding different ingredients and aging changes a beer. We tasted the beer at three different points: just after the malt was steeped, after an hour of boiling with hops added, and a week into the aging process.
What else did I learn from this brewing session? Brewing is easier than I thought, baking bread with beer is simply delicious, and I love Motueka hops.
The Teachers are planning a bevy of events in 2015, the first being a tour of a Niagara ice winery in late January. Count me in! Follow them on Twitter to learn more.