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The Belgian Mare Says Hello!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Very First Brew

Hello Dear Readers,

I have recently returned from a much needed vacation that included a visit with my parents, a solo trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and a very special tasting of the very first beer I brewed.
The author with the last bottle of his first homebrew.

Back in 1991, while working at the Gunflint Lodge, I came across an ad for a beer making kit in a magazine.  I think the magazine was Field & Stream..  The brand name of the kit was Superbrau, or something similar.

The kit contained three small cans of hopped malt extract.  The process involved boiling the malt extract with a bunch of sugar and about five gallons of water.  Then toss in some dry yeast and wait a week to bottle. Then came the hard part.

After one week it was, theoretically, ready to bottle.  This particular kit recommended putting a spoonful of sugar in each bottle before filling to prime the beer so it would carbonate in the bottle.  This proved a bit much.

After one week, according to our kit's directions, our beer was ready to drink.  However, the spoonful of sugar had resulted in a grossly over-carbonated beer.  The bottles overflowed upon opening and did little better when poured into a glass.

Crystal clear, after 22 years!
The beer itself was not bad.  It was supposed to be a Moosehead Lager clone.  While not tasting exactly like Moosehead, it was similar and overall a pretty decent beer.  We never drank the whole batch and the remainder sat in my parent's basement for many years.  Eventually most of it was thrown out, but my Dad saved a few bottles.

Over the years, we had opened these remaining bottles at intervals and had impromptu taste tests.  Strikingly, the taste never seemed to vary.  The last taste test, in 2008, 17 years after bottling, the beer tasted almost exactly like it originally had.  This year's taste test, 22 years after bottling, was another story.

Perhaps 22 years is just too long to keep a bottle conditioned beer.  This years offering, the final bottle from the original batch, was a bit of a disappointment.  While tasting a bit like Moosehead Lager, or at least what I remembered it to taste like,  my first brew had somehow become cloyingly sweet.  It was a bit like drinking thinned syrup.  How this could be, I am not sure.  After 22 years anything vaguely resembling a sugar should have been long ago fermented. Yet there it was, an overly sweet Canadian lager.

So maybe the final test bottle was a disappointment.  Then again, how many brewers get the chance to taste their first beer 22 years after it was bottled?

The last of my very first brew has passed into history.  Perhaps that is as it should be.