Our Beer, Our Label

I previously wrote that Erin gave me a gift cert for the Shenandoah Brewing Co. over in Alexandria. We went there a couple of weekends ago to start The Making of the Beer.

I was going to take photos of the place and stuff, but the battery on the small digicam was completely dead. So no dice there.

Having never even tried to make my own beer before, I found the process to be quite stressful overall. It starts off tamely with you picking the type of beer you want to make. Then, they give you a recipe, and you go off to collect your grains and grind ’em all up into a big cheesecloth sack. Then you go to the big fuckin’ vat to steep your grains.

That’s when shit got anal for me. As soon as you drop the sack into the hot water, you’ve got to keep an eye on the timer, as well as the vat. You don’t want shit boiling over or getting a huge head of foam on it, and you’ve got to add the various types of hops at certain intervals. You want to keep it at a “rolling boil”, but there’s no quantitative value; it all depends on the stuff you have boiling. The vats have temp gauges on them, but vigilance is key.

After all that stressing over the vat, they drain it into a barrel and measure the specific gravity (or something) to figure out what’s happened. Apparently, I boiled our batch a little too vigorously, and we lost more water volume than expected. That means lower yield (fewer bottles), but higher alcohol content.

A push, if you ask me.

After adding the yeast, we settled up and left. We’re scheduled to go back for the bottling and labeling session on March 8th.

Speaking of labels, I’ve been toiling over my custom shit for a while now. The only judge for my few designs (in their various states of completeness) is, of course, Erin.

Here are a few that didn’t make the cut (clicky):

bl_xskull.jpg
bl_hockey.jpg
bl_beer.jpg

And here’s the winner:

bl_murph.jpg

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