Antiques Roadshow

Posted by Corrie on 11:15 PM in
This isn't your standard doing-things-around-the-house post, but I wanted to share with you a little adventure I went on last weekend that resulted in a couple of fun finds for the house. This past Saturday, I made the drive out to Burton, OH, picking up my mom along the way, for the Burton Antiques Festival. Perhaps you could call it my own little Antiques Roadshow adventure (more like 'Antiques Roadtrip'...or maybe 'Antiques Fair-show'...eh, you get the point). Do you guys ever watch that show? I feel like a lot of people have but are embarrassed to admit it, like it's something only people 60+ years old would watch. Well, I'm not afraid to admit that Darren and I both watch it on occasion and appreciate it. I mean, really. There's some crazy ish that can go down on that show. Side note - did you know there's an Antiques Roadshow computer game? I'm not exactly sure I understand how it works, but the fact that it exists makes me laugh.

Enough of my random tangents, let's get to the goods.

The Burton Antiques Festival is held outdoors at the Geauga County fairground twice a year - one Saturday in June and one Saturday in September. There are about 400 vendors that attend and it's only $6 to get in (with free parking). My mom has been going for years with a friend from Pennsylvania, but I always seem to either find out about it last minute or have conflicting plans. This time, I got the September date from her after the June show and marked it on my calendar to make sure I wouldn't miss it. And believe me, if you are at all interested in antiques or turning old things into new, you NEED to check out this festival. There is literally something for everyone. From 19th century farmhouse items to Art Deco decor to vintage toys to antique hardware to furniture...the list goes on. You'll feel the need to stop and look at every. single. thing. from every. single. vendor., but if you do, you'll be there the whole day and there will be about a 99% chance that anything you thought "oh, I'll come back for that later" will be gone. In the time I saw a fireplace ash bucket and turned to my mom to say, "That might make for great wood storage in front of my fireplace," some girl had picked it up before I could even get to the word "wood." Since the whole experience was a fun adventure, I thought I would share the things I picked up, along with some interesting-but-not-worth-spending-the-money-on finds. So if you only care about that latter, you might want to scroll down a bit.

I walked into the festival with a list of items I was hoping to find for the house/future projects, so that helped me stay a bit focused. Some of those things were: old soda crates to hang as shelves, some sort of wooden or wire bins for floor storage in the future pantry, an old desk or vanity to replace my dresser in our bedroom, and a kitchen scale. I was also hoping to scope out some old coffee grinders and vintage fans, even though I didn't really plan on buying them that day. Just kind of price checking for future bartering purposes, ya know?

A number of vendors were selling soda crates, and I ended up grabbing an old Pepsi one for about $10, which was low to average for what vendors were asking. I also quickly noticed these really cool, wooden, compartmentalized containers, some of which were described as knife trays, that a lot of vendors were selling. I thought they would be a great storage 'centerpiece' for our coffee table, where we could put remotes, a paper pad and pens, and other miscellaneous things, all which would be easy to remove if we needed the table space. What wasn't so nice was the price tag on most of them - $70-$200!  Since they seemed to be everywhere, I kept price checking and came across one that I bargained down to $20 because one of the compartment separators wasn't completely secured into place. Here's a pic of it being put to use in its new home:

Unfortunately, I later came upon an almost identical one in a really awesome blue color that had nice wear...ALSO for $20! I definitely would've preferred the blue one, which would've gone better with the living  room color scheme I'm trying to put together, but there's no way I could've known I would find another at such a cheap price. And if I wouldn't have bought the one I did, it probably would have been taken by the time I came back to it. Alas, the downfall of buying antiques is that you can't return them. I thought maybe the girl would want to swap me for her cooler one, but I'm pretty sure she was trying to sell things...not barter. Wishful thinking. I'm still happy with my purchase though, and it's definitely functional.

A few fun and random things I found were some really old wooden baby blocks. Each had a carved letter on it along with other printed letters and images of animals. They were worn, but really cool looking. I picked up a 'C' block and a 'D' block for my and Darren's initials. Then, one of the last booths I came across had a HUGE collection of antique printing blocks. I have to tell you, I'm obsessed with these. I just think they are so cool looking, especially in such a large group with all different sized letters:

When I was a kid, my mom actually gave me an old printer's box to use as a shadow box, and I intend on hanging it in our house at some point. To add to my collection of letters (which really only include the letters in my name), I picked up an ampersand, thinking I could eventually display it with my C & D blocks in the printer's box.

I did buy one last thing. The best for last. When you see it, you might think I'm crazy for being so excited over something that appears to be not that big of a deal, but truthfully, I AM a little crazy so you are probably right. It's a lamp. On my second time browsing through the vendors, I realized that I had somehow missed a vendor with a bunch of old vintage industrial lamp shades, electrical parts and hardware. Something caught my eye and I wandered over. Right as I picked an item up to show my mom, I spotted it. My beautiful desk lamp. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. It was the same style I had been drooling over in Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn catalogs for almost a year (those are reproductions of course).  I went running over and grabbed it. It is gold. My second least favorite color (next to pink), but I didn't even care. The wire cord appeared to be in excellent condition with the original plug. I asked the guy how much and I could've sworn he said $40. I rushed over to see what my mom thought - even though I had already subliminally decided to buy it - and told her maybe I could work him down to $30 since he said he didn't know if it worked. He had never plugged it in. He must've overheard me because as I walked back over to him he shook his head and said it was a firm $40 because he was asking $75. I didn't ever remember hearing $75, but I figured $40 was worth it even if I had to rewire it. After all, the reproduction lamps I had been looking at were around $100, which I clearly wasn't going to spend. So, I figured it was still a deal, gold color and all.  I guess I should show it to you.

I know. You're thinking "Nothing special," right? But it's seriously the exact style of desk lamp I've been searching for. (Sitting on top of the Pepsi crate I bought, which you probably noticed.) I had a brief scary moment when I got home, plugged it in and it didn't work (despite having a light bulb in it), but I tried replacing the light bulb and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am it worked like a gem. I think I danced around the house for 5 minutes while Darren watched and tried to forget he lives with a crazy person.  I'm still not completely in love with the gold color, but maybe it will grow on me. I'm kind of a purist when it comes to antiques and I feel guilty every time I think about painting it oil rubbed bronze, so I'm going to live with it for awhile.

In the end, no such luck finding some storage bins for our pantry. Everything was either too big or too small. Our pantry is very narrow and kind of short so I guess it was too awkwardly sized for everything I came across. However, I DO want to share some of other fun/interesting/hilarious things I found at the festival, just for kicks. Some of these pics I snapped literally as I was walking by, or right as people were trying to look at the items, so I apologize that some of them aren't as up close as they could be.

These fans were exactly the style I was looking for. (Remember I was price comparing?) The smaller of the two was $40 and I didn't really feel like splurging that much, even though the fan appeared to be in good shape. Still...they're gorgeous dah-ling!

I think this piece of furniture was intended to be a workshop table, but the moment I spotted it, I thought it would make the most fantastic two-person desk. If only Darren and I didn't already have desks. ..and I was rich. And I had a car big enough to take it home in. I didn't even tempt myself and look at the price tag for fear I would be heartbroken. The patina on it is cool, but even if it's not your jam it would be an amazing piece refinished.

These seed packets were from the 1920s and I thought the illustrations were so cool, especially all grouped together. The vendor was asking $1 per packet. I though about buying 2 or 4 to arrange in a matted frame for some kitchen art...I don't know why but I never went back to buy them. Probably because I didn't have an exact wall space in mind and I don't like to buy things without knowing where I will put them at the time of purchase.

Ahhh, antique phones. I'm obsessed. My mom has one of the wood/metal wall mount styles and I've always wished for one for myself. I do not wish to spend hundreds of dollars on one, however, which is why I just admired them with my camera. 

This was a glass case full of old apothecary bottles. Gorgeous. A lot of vendors had a few here and there, along with old tobacco tins, but this was the prettiest display I came across.  I apologize for the blurriness from the glass. 

I loved this charming little table, thinking it would be perfect for a breakfast nook. If we didn't already have plans to make built in benches and a table for our own, I would've been tempted to buy it. 

Ok. I have no idea what this thing is, but it is SPECTACULAR. Some sort of hexagon-ish shaped drawer unit with the most beautiful carvings on the drawers. All I could think about was what n amazing storage unit it would make for a crafty person like myself. Or even someone with a big CD collection. I didn't catch a price tag.

The was one of my favorite finds. It's a brass nutcracker! You lift the tail and the mouth opens. I was so charmed by this and desperately wanted to buy it...however, the $100 price tag was not charming to my wallet. 

This German beer towel(?)/tapestry(?) totally cracked me up and I really wanted to buy it for Darren, thinking it might be fairly inexpensive. Boy was I wrong. It was almost $100! I guess it must be something rare. Just goes to show how unpredictable antiques can be.

These crazy chairs were hilarious and seemed totally out of place. I suppose the chairs themselves were probably antiques prior to someone attacking them with decoupage. They had all sorts of weird phrases and pictures from magazines on them.

Case and point: The Sexual Healing Chair. I just don't understand how someone could NOT want that in their house. What about you? If 'Sexual Healing' didn't sell you on it, maybe 'Power of Love' will.

Now THIS is something I wish I had a place for in my house. A wood "Glove" Brand Rubbers box. (Yes, I just said wood, rubbers and box all in one sentence. Keep your mind out of the gutter.) 

And last of all is the most unique find of the festival. An old movie advertisement that was painted (or somehow printed?) on wood. I couldn't find a price tag anywhere on it and I was afraid to touch it or look on the back/bottom, so I have no idea how much it was. 

I showed the picture to my movie-buff coworker, who said it was from a silent film from 1930. If it's an original, I can't even imagine how much it is worth. Sure beats the sh*t out of today's movie posters though. Could you imagine how cool it would be to hang this in your house? 

Well, that about wraps up my finds and favs from my 'Antiques Roadtrip-Fairshow.' Have I convinced you that antiques are fun, wacky and intriguing all at the same time?  Is there anything unique you've picked up in a thrift store or antique shop along the way that holds a special place in your heart or home? I really think there's no better way to make your house unique than through treasures collected over time. 

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Reading Rainbow

Posted by Corrie on 10:45 PM in
So, do you remember me mentioning in this post how we still had some things left to unpack? Three months into living here? Just camping out in the breakfast nook. Some of those things were our books. Well well, I finally got tired of seeing them there and decided to unpack them a whopping...wait for it...nearly 4.5 months after living here. You may wonder how we made it all that time without, a) the boxes getting in the way, and b) not reading or needing a single book. Well, we haven't used the breakfast nook as anything except storage (obviously) since we moved in, mostly because we don't have a table and chairs for it, though big plans are to come for that space. Heck, we don't even really have chairs for our dining room table. (That's a lie. We have 4, but they are metal and vinyl and horrible and uncomfortable and I hate them. But that is what we have to sit on for now, until we get the moolah to buy some...either those or BYOC if you ever come to dinner. ) Oh. And about the needing-to-get-to-books part? We conveniently discovered that the bicycle repair manual we needed was right on top. And when Darren wanted a book to read he just picked one off the top. I guess we're lucky/lazy like that.

Anyway, with my sudden burst of motivation - or annoyance (you decide) - I dragged all the boxes upstairs to our guest room, where our bookcase has taken up residence.

There it is in all its nekkid glory. Since I'm still gathering ideas for how to decorate this room, and our books clearly needed a home, I thought I would try a cheery arrangement to brighten the space a bit more until I can do something with it. Enter Pintrest. Idea-finding love of my life (second to Darren of course). Check out these beauts:

Now if that isn't bookcase porn, I don't know what is.

Well, THIS is too. Possibly the most book-porniferous of all.

I had to share, though it’s not exactly applicable to our place. We all know my house does not have enough space for a library nor do I even own that many books.

Anyway, simple task at hand. Sort books by color. I started by putting them in separate piles according to color group. Some people say not to judge a book by its cover, but, well, that’s exactly what I did.

I never realized I had so many black and white bound books. That kinda put a damper on this whole color thing, but not completely. I started to combine some of the groups, trying to visualize which colors might flow well into each other to make a nice gradient effect for when they would be sitting on the shelves. More obvious were the reds, oranges, and yellows, but surprisingly the greens and blacks also flowed well into each other too. Doing this on the floor seemed to be the best bet, since it allowed me to spread out versus having to keep going up and down, pulling things on and off the shelves if I had tried to organize everything directly on the shelves.

I didn’t really know which color to start with – and honestly didn’t feel like over-thinking it – so I just kind of put them all up there, starting one shelf down to leave myself some space to arrange. Somehow this left me with empty top and bottom shelves.

Hmm...I thought I had more books than that. Maybe because we formerly used these shelves to store all our books PLUS dvds and records. Minor details. Our dvds have a new home in our media cabinet, but our records were still in a box in the corner of the breakfast nook, so I put them back on the bottom shelf where they used to live. Afterall, nobody puts baby records in a corner. I had been itching to find a new spot for them downstairs, but took the fact that they were still in a box as a hint to just return them to their former ‘home’ (color grouping them in the process as well). Then, I figured the leftover gaps were an opportunity to unleash my boxes of frames and décor which had also been nestled in the breakfast nook all this time. (embarrassed face.) I just put in some of my more random/colorful frames in groups, a couple candles, and an original painting I picked up during my 6 months in Costa Rica. Oh, and a sign that Darren picked out, which reads, "Friends Welcome, Relative by Appointment Only." He thought it was funny.

Take a look it's in a book, bookcase reading rainbowww.

Man I used to love that show. Back on track. Here's closeup of the lower half of the shelf.

Ahhh, much better. Not that all the rando extra stuff I put up will definitely stay, but it's a solution for now. At least it finally looks like someone uses this room for something besides clothing storage. And ironing. (Even if we really don't.)

What else do you think would look good on the shelves? I was thinking it might be fun to put a tray or basket with some guest amenities in place of some of the frames in that lower section for when people come to visit. Any suggestions on what you might like to find/use if you came to stay? This room definitely needs a makeover, but I thought some little touches would help make it nice for those who come to visit in the meantime. I love to entertain and would love your input!

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Something A-Brew

Posted by Corrie on 12:56 AM in ,
Something's been a-brew around here for the past two weeks, and if you know us well, you probably guessed BEER. And if you did, you would be right. We finally got our sh*t together to make our first brew in the new house. By 'get our sh*t together,' I actually mean that we promised to bring 5 gallons of beer to a relative's Oktoberfest party the first weekend of October, so we were already way past the date in which we should've started the brewing process. Nothing like a little lot of procrastination and a looming deadline to light a fire under our butts (slash the brew kettle). Or maybe it was the visions we had of 40 something people mobbing us for showing up empty handed...either way.

Apart from this being our first brewing session in the new house, it was also a special occasion because we had the lovely opportunity to host some company. Introducing...House Made brew. Guest starring Molly (my cousin) and Tom (her boyfriend).
People get all charmed and excited when they find out we brew our own beer out of our kitchen, like it's a glamorous hobby that puts us on a whole new level of 'cool.' Maybe kind of like Jesus with the water-into-wine thing, just not as quick (and without the religious following). Ok, I'm exaggerating.  But really, watching water and grain boil is not that glamorous, and the only new level it takes us to is a new level of frugal (because it's cheaper to make quality craft beer than to buy it). In reality, WE are not that cool, but the end result is. Molly and Tom likely realized this, but hopefully they weren't too disappointed and still enjoyed our company.

I should preface this by telling you that Darren already posted about our brewing session over on his totally awesome blog, Ohio Brews, but his rundown is geared a bit more toward the craft brewing community (aka those who know a lot about home brewing), so I'm here to give you a dumbed down version. Not saying you're dumb, but perhaps less 'brew-savvy.' We thought about doing a joint post, but in the end decided it would be easier to separate them since our blogs have different audiences.

So, how does the magic happen? Well, you need some basic equipment to get started.
A giant stock pot slash brew kettle (about 5 gallons) to boil in, a bucket with lid and/or a carboy (1) (each should hold at least 5-6 gallons) for fermenting, a thermometer (2) that can withstand prolonged high heat, kitchen timer, a siphoning tube (3), racking cane (4), an airlock (5), a hydrometer (6), and sanitizing powder/solution (7). You could buy them separately or get a kit, which will have most of those items, like the one in the picture above, courtesy of Northern Brewer. Most beginners bottle their beer, which would require bottles (you can recycle old ones as long as they aren't screw-tops), a bottling bucket with spigot (8), caps, and a capper (9). However, we have a kegging setup, so our equipment is quite different - we'll get into that in another post.

Without getting into much detail, there are three ways to home brew: extract (most basic, typically using no to little actual grain, and is typically what a beer kit involves), partial-mash (using some extract + some grain), all-grain (most advanced, the name says it all). Extract-only brewing gives you the least control over the recipe, being more of a dump-and-stir method, while all-grain gives you the highest level of control over every aspect of the process. The first recipe we ever made was an extract + speciality grain recipe that we wrote ourselves - pretty ballsy of us, looking back - but we quickly jumped into partial mashing after that. Our recipes follow the partial mashing method because we don't have the equipment to do all-grain brewing yet, but it still gives us a decent amount of control and creativity over the end result. To write a recipe, we decide what style beer we want to make, research recipes that follow that style, pick out the desired characteristics we're looking for, then write up our own version with the guidance of a great gadget called BeerTools.  Beer Tools let's us input all our info and shows us whether we are staying within the style guidelines. Added bonus - it let's us save our recipes too. There's only one recipe we've made that wasn't a Corrie/Darren Original, and we've been lucky enough that all but one of our own recipes have lived up to our expectations. Even the so-called 'failure' brew still had some big fans at our holiday party, so it wasn't completely unsuccessful.

Beers fall under two categories - either ale or lager. Ales are have their own yeast strains that ferment at warmer temperatures, while lagers have specific yeast strains that ferment at much colder temperatures. A commercial example of an ale is Guinness, while a commercial example of a lager is MGD or Budweiser, to give you an idea. But maybe you already knew that. I should give you more credit. Obviously there are many different styles of beer that fall under each category. The one we brewed this time is a Märzen, better known as an Oktoberfest style beer. This beer falls under the lager category and gets it's name because, historically, it was brewed in March (Märzen) and kept in cold storage (a cellar) until late summer/Oktoberfest. Fun fact of the day. Oh, and we named it "Dan-The-Man Marzen" after my cousin who's hosting the Oktoberfest party. It was a big hit last year, so by request, we're bringing it back for round numero dos.

That's the 'label' we made for the outside of the keg last year. Our first ridiculous attempt at using Gimp (aka free 'photoshop') by compiling a picture of Dan, a cheesy clip art, and scanning an image of a record we own (yes, the music is hilariously awesome in case you were wondering).

Let's begin with the basics. The grain for the partial-mash, which we had already measured out and crushed into a reusable mesh sack; lager yeast; and sour cream malt extract.

We buy our ingredients from a local restaurant that has a brew-on-premisis facility, so we reuse one of their leftover containers to hold our malt extract. So if you were genuinely concerned that we put sour cream in our beer, fear not.

Now, we do the monster Marzen (partial) mash! That was a stretch. Anyway...We started by heating 1.5 gallons of water to 175° in our beer kettle (aka the Bayou Classic, as it says on the side), then add the mesh sack, dunking it a few times to fully submerge all the grain.

The water temp usually falls a bit with the addition of the grain, so we had to bring it back up to between 148°-160°, which is the mashing temperature range. We tried to maintain it around 156°. You must maintain it between this range, which is the tricky part, because if you don’t the sugars wont extract properly from the grain, which is what mashing is all about. And sugars = fermentation = alcohol. Put a lid on it to preserve heat if you need to.   You can add boiling or cold water to the mash to help you control it if you are having a hard time. The more precise your temp control, the more control you have over the flavor of your beer.

After a little more than 30 minutes, we sparged the grain with about 1.5 gallons of hot water. As Darren says,  Sparging is a fancy way to say "pour hot liquid over the grain to try to get as much flavor out of the grain as possible." In fact, I think that is exactly what he was explaining to Tom as I took this pic.

Tom lifted the bag out of the water, letting it drain, and poured the sparge water through to rinse more sugars into the pot. Sugar mixes better with hot water (as you might know from cooking in general) so it makes more mash-created malt sugars dissolve out of the grain and you’ll get a more efficient extraction (which means better adherence to your recipe). This is where muscles come in handy, because someone - in this case, Tom - gets to hold that heavy bag for awhile. Set the grain sack aside in a bowl and after it rests awhile, be sure to add any additional liquid that has drained out. So far, we've essentially made grain tea, which has a technical name: wort. Not like warts. This is different (and not as gross.) In fact, it smells delicious. At this point, we have sweet wort, which is basically unconcentrated malt extract. Like the extract, this sweet wort is made up of water and sugars, most of which will ferment into alcohol and CO2, but a few which will not ferment and instead add to the flavor and sweetness of the beer. The extract helps bulk up and moderate your wort, which is good in case you made mistakes during the mashing part - hence the advantage of partial mashing. 

So now there's about 3 gallons of wort in the kettle. This part of the process is called the boil. Why not boil the whole 5 gallon batch at once? Well, your typical kitchen stove probably isn’t powerful enough to handle boiling that much water. Plus, you will have to cool everything down later to a specific temperature range for the yeast to work, so by only boiling part of the water, you can later top it off with cool water to assist in the cooling process.We turned the heat up to high and mixed in the malt extract, which kind of looks like syrup. 

Darren poured, while Molly stirred. It's important to stir constantly until the extract is fully incorporated into the liquid, otherwise it will settle and burn on the bottom. 

Then we waited for the wort to boil. This is the part where you drink beer, if you haven't started already. Tom brought an Imperial Hefeweizen he brewed on premises at The Brew Kettle (the place we bought our supplies). 

Your boil will last 60 min, but you don’t start the clock until you have a steady rolling boil. As you wait for this to happen, be sure to keep a close eye on the pot, because it could go from calm to overflowing in a hot second. No pun intended.

Once we achieved a rolling boil, we started the timer. The hops needed to be added at certain times, according to the recipe as the time counts down.  For ours, we added 1 bag at the 45 minute mark and 1 bag at 5 minutes. Each bag contained 1 ounce of a different type of hops.

Molly and Tom had to do the requisite hop sniff test. Generally speaking, adding hops at the beginning of the boil serves the purpose of contributing bitterness (necessary for balancing out the sweetness of the wort); adding hops between the 15 minute and 5 minute timeframe contributes flavor; and those added from 5 minutes until the end are mostly for aroma. Hop pellets - the kind we used - disperse quickly so there’s no need to stir.

While we had 60 minutes of boil time to kill, we used this as an opportune time to drink more beer sanitize everything that would come in contact with the wort post-boil. For some reason, I always feel a little Beastie Boys taking over at this point...I'm tellin' ya'll it's sabotage let's sanitize! For anyone who wants a '90s flashback (or has no idea what the heck I'm talking about), here's a video.

This was our bucket of stuff being sanitized:

That sanitizing solution kills HIV/AIDS. No joke. It says it on the bottle.

When the boil clock reaches zero, turn off the heat and remove the pan. The new goal is to cool the wort as quickly as possible while keeping it as sterile as possible. This is not only in your best interest from a time standpoint, but also because the longer it takes to cool, the more susceptible the wort is to contamination and resulting off-flavors now that it's no longer being heated. The fastest way is to use a funky gadget called a wort chiller, specially designed for this purpose. However, we do not have one, so we do it the annoyingly long cheap way and make a cold water bath in our sink. 

Eek! That sponge should not have been there...Also, it might be hard to tell, but the water is going into the sink, not that pot. Darren stirred the wort a bit - with a sanitized spoon of course - to help release more heat. As the wort cools about halfway and the water bath doesn't seem to be as effective, we add ice to the water bath to help move things along. (Sidenote: If you are brewing in winter, you might think putting it in the snow is a genius idea. It won’t work.) As the wort only has about 10 degrees to go, we move it into the bucket it will ferment in and top it off. 

Oh, hey, feet.

 Connecting the sanitized tube and racking cane, we siphoned the wort into our fermenter, leaving behind all the icky gunk in the pot (called trub –it’s leftover malt proteins and hop particles). 

Gross. (Darren is a good sport and does cleanup duty.) We topped off the wort with cool spring water, bringing the volume up to 5 gallons and the temp down to right where we needed it (the exact number which I cannot remember right now).  Then, we took a sample of the wort with a (sanitized) turkey baster (who says you can only use them at Thanksgiving?) and put it into our (sanitized) hydrometer tube to measure the Original Gravity. 

We gave the hydrometer a spin to dispel any bubbles, then waited for it to settle and read the number at the point where the top of the liquid meets the instrument. This number - the gravity - is a reading of the density of the beer, specifically the amount of sugars present. As the beer ferments and sugar turns to alcohol and CO2, the gravity drops. By looking at the original gravity/sugar content, you can get an idea of how high in alcohol your beer will be. (BeerTools gives us estimated numbers when we input our recipe, which gives us an idea of how far along the fermentation is as we take additional readings).  

Then, we added the yeast and give the thing a stir, which helped oxygenate the wort and activate the yeast. Ale yeast ferments 62° -75°ish, while lager yeast (what we used because we're making a lager) ferments around 50° - 60°, though it can be pitched at a higher temp initially.

Finally, we attached lid. The lid has a hole in it where the airlock goes (if you are using a carboy to ferment in, you need a stopper with a hole for the airlock). We filled the airlock halfway full with sanitizing solution, capped it, and inserted it in the lid. It acts almost as a filtration device for the CO2 released during fermentation, which you see in the form of bubbles inside the airlock.

We moved the whole thing into the dining room to let fermentation begin. This is where the waiting game starts. It could take up to 72 hours for the beer to start fermenting, but ours started late that same evening. It's important to keep the beer in an area of the house where the temperature is steady aka not by a drafty door/window. After a couple days of fermenting at room temperature, per the yeast instructions, we moved the entire bucket into our kegerator. Lagers spend most of their time fermenting at a cool temperature, so for some people, a basement might work. We are fortunate in that we have the kegerator for drinking beer, but can also set the temperature to cycle at a specific number, which allows us to use it for lagering as well.

Almost three weeks later, we are still waiting. At the beginning of this week we took another hydrometer reading and decided the beer was ready to move to secondary fermentation, which is basically another step of fermentation where you rack (siphon) the the beer out of the old container, removing it from the yeast that has settled to the bototm, and into a new carboy. Some people think secondary fermentation is optional, but we always do it because it helps clear out extra sediment in the beer and we think it helps improve flavor. 

So that's where our little beer is at right now, and where it will probably stay for another week or so until we actual move it into the kegs and carbonate it. A whole new adventure! We were glad to have Tom and Molly over to learn about home brewing, and we hope you learned something as well. Or at least fulfilled any curiosities about what goes on behind closed doors. Did you ever think brewing beer could be so science-y?

We'll be sure to update you when it's time for some kegerator/carbonating action!


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