When Peter was a baby, I'd occasionally enjoy a few sips of beer while I nursed him. It was relaxing for me and the B vitamins were good for us both. Once Peter was a toddler, he'd find anyone sipping a beer and beg for a sip. I figured his love of beer was directly related to my mother's Bavarian childhood when she'd accompany her father to the local biergarten in the Bavarian Alps, sit on his lap, and sip the foam off the top of his favorite bierstein. I remember being concerned enough about Peter's love of beer that I called our pediatrician, asking whether it was normal for a toddler to like beer this much. She suggested I keep beer away from Peter for a few years yet, but that he'd probably always like beer.
She was right. Peter has definitely become our beer connoisseur. He still likes drinking it and is well on his way of becoming a master brewer of the stuff. He and Aleks have even discussed starting their own brewery, called Schneiderbauer Brewery. (Schneiderbauer was Tom's great grandfather's name. The story is that he shortened it on Ellis Island, as a way of expediting the intake process!)
So yesterday, while I went to Kat's dance rehearsal and Aleks tried to sleep off a bad cold (poor guy!), Peter showed Elisabeth and CJ how to brew an Irish Ale -- presumably for St. Patrick's Day -- and Tom played photographer. (You can get this recipe at Mountain Home Brew's web site. This is where we get all our brewing supplies.)
It's important that all brewing materials be very clean. Wash the pot -- which can be used ONLY for beer brewing and never for any other purpose.
Sanitize the fermenter.
Now fill the pot with 2 - 3 gallons of clean, fresh spring water. Don't use tap water, as it usually has too many minerals in it.
Bring the water temperature to 150 degrees. While you're waiting for it to heat up, add steeping grains to a large muslin bag.
Have agreeable and easy-going boyfriend be the steeping grains bag supervisor.
He knows his stuff, so listen up, even if he is your baby brother!
Once the water is 150 degrees, add the bag with steeping grains to the pot.
Take a whiff.
Then add liquid malt.
All of it.
Add pot back to stove and bring wort to a gentle boil, then add in hops and gypsum. Boil for 60 minutes, adding Irish Moss 45 minutes into the boil. (I don't have photos of this because Tom and Peter decided to go to the motorcycle store instead of taking pictures!)
Note that your mom notes that your boyfriend cleans up. This endears your mother to your boyfriend and elicits comments regarding permission to date him seriously.
After 60 minutes, remove wort from stove. Remove hops and cool down quickly by surrounding pot in sink with ice cubes.
Probably take part in some flirty ice cube games with boyfriend, since no one else was home at this point.
Get beer-serious again. Once wort has reached 85(F) degrees...
...add to your sanitized fermenter. Top with 5 gallons more of cold, fresh water. Aerate well and pitch in brewing yeast --which your little brother taught you all about before he and your dad took off for the motorcycle store.
Attach the airlock to your fermenter.
Place the fermenter in a cool (60 - 70 degrees) dark place. Unless you want to hear "beer farts" for two weeks, put it in a closet and close the door.
Allow your beer to ferment until "complete," about 7 - 10 days, then bottle the beer, wait 10 - 14 more days and enjoy!
Add your home brew to this variety of beers already in the fridge -- from a cheap can of Bud Light to the $11 bottle of Dogfish Head IPA, which was shared by 6 of us last night: