From Homebrewing

Brewing Up a Wedding

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester It’s been a bit difficult for me to find time for homebrewing lately. My day job has changed and well, yeah, I’m really just making excuses. I can find time. I just haven’t much lately. Thankfully, my good friend and homebrewing partner Jeff has never lost his brew-footing. He’s consistently churning out world-class beer. We often brew together, but it’s not always easy to find time to make that happen either. When he announced not too long ago that he was getting married, it was never even a question whether or not there would…

Moving On From a Difficult Batch

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester So my last homebrew column was a bit of a bummer. My very first lager that I invested a lot of time and effort into ended up being a pretty big disappointment. As with any homebrew that isn’t good, the best bet is to just set it aside and let it mature and hope against hope that it just needs more time. I did just that with the lager and in doing so I ended up taking a little bit of a break from brewing. It was really intentional, but looking back on my…

Ladies Academy of Brewing at Bitter & Esters

UPDATE: The Ladies Academy of Brewing has been cancelled and instead merged with a new class, “Brewprenticeship.” It is open to both men and women, and will start on March 18. Purchase tickets for this new class here. The structure and instructors for the class remain the same as previously written. Use the promo code Brewprenticeship to receive a 20% discount off the class, courtesy of Bitter & Esters. Starting January 21, Bitter & Esters will hold an intensive, three-part homebrewing class. The first of its kind for the Prospect Heights homebrew shop, this class is for ladies only. Dubbed…

Lager Follies, Part 2. (And a Pumpkin Brew.)

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester When we last met I left you with a little bit of a cliffhanger: My first lager attempt. Would it work? Would it fail miserably? I had a lot of things going against me. Well, things haven’t turned out so well. But all hope is not lost. After I transferred to secondary fermentation, I made the mistake of storing in my kegerator, which has a finicky temperature control to say the least. Generally the temperature seems to vary greatly despite what I set it at and my main fermentation chamber (my chest freezer) was…

Lager Follies, Part 1

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester Homebrewing is an ever-evolving adventure. Sometimes you brew amazingly awesome beer. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut and want to walk away for a while. And sometimes you need to traverse a road that not only have you never been down before, but seems like an uphill battle from the start. The road I decided to embark upon for the first time was the fantastical world of lager brewing. I’ve been wanting to brew a lager for a few years now but it’s only recently that I’ve acquired the chest freezer that would…

Start Kegging. Here’s How.

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester One of the best upgrades a homebrewer can make to their setup is to start kegging. Bottling is a long and arduous process made even more difficult if you’re doing it solo. Kegging, on the other hand, is not hard for one person to handle. Not only is it an easier process overall, it can also provide beer that’s ready for drinking much sooner than the few weeks it can take for bottles to carbonate. The homebrew standard for kegging is five gallon cornielius or “corny” kegs. These used to be the soda industry’s…

Beginner’s Homebrewing Essentials

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester Let’s be honest. Homebrewing is great, but sometimes it can be hard to set aside the time it takes to brew a batch. Three to six hours is a pretty big time commitment, which can be difficult to accomplish on a work night, and it’s a pretty serious dent into a weekend day. This is how it’s been for me lately. I’ve only been able to brew three batches in 2013 thus far and I have not brewed for two months. The thing is, life gets in the way sometimes and you can’t let…

Hurdles in Homebrewing

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester There’s nothing better in the world than brewing your own beer at home and having it actually come out well. Being able to hand a glass to a friend and have them really like it, only to be shocked that you’re the one that made it? It’s euphoric. But the pendulum swings both ways. Nothing can prepare you for that fretful day when, yes, you’ve made something that just isn’t good enough to justify drinking. This happened for me this past weekend and I had to decide if I needed to dump a batch…

Brewing Outdoors

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been homebrewing for over five years now. It seems like just yesterday my friends and I got our first kit and had to follow every direction to a T. It’s even harder for me to believe that in those five years, I brewed every single batch indoors on a kitchen stove. Never once did I have the pleasure of brewing outdoors or even being witness to an outdoor brew session. This all changed when I moved just a few weeks ago to an apartment with an…

Reflections on Five Years of Brewing

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester It’s so awesome being a homebrewer. I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this you either already agree or you’re looking to get into it so you too can realize just how awesome it is. Tasting the fruits of your hard labor and actually enjoying it – maybe even more so than some commercial brews – is a uniquely enjoyable unparalleled experience. Having just recently celebrated five years since my first brew, I’ve managed to amass a pretty large quantity of brewing-related items: bottled beers of all sizes, Cornelius kegs, CO2 tanks, buckets…