I know, I know. This is a travel blog. I’m supposed to write about travel and adventurous stuff.
But homebrewing counts as an adventure. I’ve been into it for about seven years now. I’ve brewed everything from a delicious chocolate-coconut stout to a clone of Dogfish Head‘s Midas Touch that turned out … bad. Like “dead lobster floating in the fermenter” horrible. On the plus side, it was perfect for making seafood stews.
Anyway, I was just walking around at Whole Foods when I spotted a bagful of grain. It had the intriguing label “Maple Porter” on it. I’ve had a yen to make a maple stout, and I figured I’d pick up these grains to modify a 5-gallon batch of cream stout I have planned. I also noticed a book … The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book. It had lots of cool-sounding recipes, so I said “yes, please!”
When I got home, I realized the bag of grains also had packets of yeast and hops in it. That is was a kit from The Brooklyn Brew Shop – the same people who did the book. And it was sized for a tiny one-gallon batch. Hmm, time for a deeper look.
I cracked the homebrewing book open and got the background. Turns out Brooklyn Brew Shop is the work of Stephen and Erica, a DIY-lovin’ couple. The New York Times has a nice account of their story. I like the friendly vibe of their book, which tells how – while low on space and money but high on flavor and adventurous spirit- they started brewing tiny batches.
I like ’em, I do. The people and the picobatches. I’m writing this the night after I brewed a batch (which I tweaked with some honey and toasted shredded coconut added to the boil). To frame this, I’ve lost count of the number of batches I’ve brewed, all have which have been partial mashes recipes. I modify every recipe with some sort of offbeat adjunct. So here’s my overview:
- It’s a nice, compact way to get into homebrewing. Perfect for people worried about space. You can get their entire kit for $40 with a recipe, ingredients and some essential gear. I do believe you’ll need a brew kettle, though.
- Homebrewing journeymen like me who have been reluctant to go all-grain will get a nice intro. For some reason, Brooklyn Brew Shop’s approach demystified the process. I’ve seen many other videos about all-grain brewing. But this … well, it made everything seem approachable.
- The recipes are kick-ass. I have two hulking rosemary bushes in my yard. I pondered using them in a beer. Sure enough, the book has a nice recipe for me. There’s also a spruce beer recipe. The book is a Finnish sahti recipe away from being perfect. Hint, hint!
- Tiny batches are cool. You can brew them as gifts for friends. Or to experiment with crazy flavors. Experienced brewers can lure buddies who have hemmed and hawed about homebrewing for years.
- All-grain homebrewing produces a massive amount of spent grains. Think about making some spent-grain cookies – for humans or canines (dogs, to the layperson).
So the blow-off tube is venting CO2 like a fully automatic BB gun. A sign of a nice, active fermentation. I’ll post again after I have a taste to test the carbonation. I’ll be sure to post again once the batch ages awhile.
Bottom line – Stephen and Erica have opened the hatch to invite more people into homebrewing. If you’re looking for a friendly entrance into the club but have been scared away by the bouncers of space and expense, Brooklyn Brew Shop has the answer.