Brewing in Pictures

A couple days before I brew, I make a yeast starter. I add my brewing yeast to a small amount of wort and put it on a stir plate. This insures that I have enough yeast cells come brew day.
Malted barley waiting to be milled.
The Barley Crusher is my grain mill and the electric drill turns the rollers. The malt needs to be crushed for the mash.
If the malt is crushed too fine, it will clog up my mash tun. If the malt isn’t crushed fine enough, I won’t get enough fermentable sugars out of it. This is the malt after it’s been crushed.
I brew on the balcony of my apartment.
My equipment. The red cooler is my mash tun. The coil of copper tubing is my chiller.
The crushed grains are mixed with hot water to make the mash. The ideal temperature for the mash is 152 degrees.
After steeping for an hour, I drain the mash to get my wort.
After the mash is drained, I fill the mash tun up a couple more times to rinse any remaining sugars from the grains. This process is called batch sparging. When the pot is full, it goes on the burner.
Some proteins and polyphenols coagulate as the wort heats up forming a film on top of the wort. This is called the hot break.
Stirring the wort and swirling the hot break.
The wort is close to a boil.
The wort begins to boil.
Eventually, I get a nice rolling boil.
Shortly after the boil starts, I make the first hop addition.
Hops normally look like little green pine cones. These hops have been ground up and formed into pellets.
Right after the first hop addition. You might notice a slight green tinge to the foam.
Just before the boil ends, I hook the chiller up to a source of cold water.
As the wort cools, various things precipitate out of solution. This is called the cold break.
A close up of the cold break.
As the wort cools, it also settles and begins to look more clear.
When the beer is cool enough so that it won’t kill the yeast, it can be siphoned to the fermenter. In this case, a 6.5 gallon glass carboy.
As the wort goes into the fermenter, an attachment on the end of the tube sprays the wort to aerate it.
The final ingredient is yeast.
Later that evening the wort begins to ferment, indicated by the bubbles on top. An airlock is attached to the top of the fermented so that the carbon dioxide can be released without letting outside air into the fermenter.
And the next morning the fermentation is bubbling up out of the carboy.
I attach a blow off tube to the fermenter and run it to a flask filled with sanitizer. This quickly overflows as well.
Brewing is not a clean process.

Why Blog?

I think that’s an appropriate question to ask as I sit here and write a blog post for the first time in a few years. (Though not the first time ever.) I’ve asked myself that question many times over the past few months. I’ve asked other people that question.¬†And I’ve come up with a few answers.

First though, I have to say that I’ve also spent a lot of time persuading myself not to blog. It told myself that it was a waste of my time. No one would ever read my posts. Why would I ever spend my precious free time on something so useless? I could be doing something much more productive. I decided ultimately that I wanted to blog precisely because it was unproductive. I almost titled this post, “On Not Being Productive.” And I may one day yet use that as the title of a blog post. I have lots of thoughts on not being productive. To sum them up here, I came to feel that my problem was that I was making an argument to myself that my writing was unproductive. That’s because, by most definitions of productivity, writing is an unproductive activity, especially when you’re starting out. I’m spending lots of time writing lots of words that will never make me money, will never be published, and will never be read by more than a handful of people. I think most successful writers are able to ignore these things and see their writing as productive anyway, but I was getting stuck there. I needed to decide not to be productive. And here I am. Butt in chair. Making words happen.

I also want to blog because I want to have my own platform. As I mentioned earlier in an aside, this is not my first rodeo. I’ve blogged before, during the time 10-13 years ago when blogging was in its hey day. At the time, it was the best way to communicate and share ideas with the wider internet. Since then, most people, myself included, have moved to proprietary platforms like Facebook and Twitter for these kinds of interactions. It may just be nostalgia, but lately I’ve started to miss having my own platform. In no small part because today’s social media platforms tend to push people towards shorter writing formats. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but having my own platform allows me to write whatever I want. Even if it’s 500 words on why I’m blogging again.

Lastly, in order to meet some artificial notion of completeness, I decided that I needed a third reason for this post. I actually spent 15 to 20 minutes trying to come up with one. And I failed. My third reason is no reason. Why do I need a reason to start blogging again? It was clearly something that I wanted to do. I was wracking my brain to come up with reasons. So why am I blogging again? Why not?