29 September 2013


Long have we dreamed of brewing our own beer. We have dabbled with fermentation over the years with hard apple and honey ciders, even concocted a delicious honey mead with the guidance of a visiting brew-master friend who introduced me to Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (3rd edition, 2003), but brewing and bottling a real beer has been a dream left on the to-do list year after year. Some dreams simply need longer to ferment, awaiting the right combination and that's when we met a new friend, a young brew-master with brew equipment and a passion for sharing his art. We purchased a few 20-liter beer kit recipes with malted grains and pre-measured packets of hops and yeast from http://www.mundocervecero.cl and he guided us through the steps: sanitizing equipment, mashing and sparging the grains, boiling the wort, pitching the yeast.

Our first beer brewed at home was an India Pale Ale so intoxicatingly delicious that we went into a frenzy rotating homebrews through fermentors, collecting bottles from friends and from restaurants, happy to be practicing the ancient art of brewing and having wonderful new elixirs to share. We brewed Oatmeal Stout and Dry Stout, California Common Ale and Scottish Ale, Belgium Trippel Ale and Pale Ale. The flow of the process improved with every try as we tasted sugars exploding in our mash while feeding the woodstove fire, learning temperature ranges by feel, and getting comfortable with the basic sanitary precautions necessary to cultivate yeast, not bacteria. But the satisfaction weeks and months later when at friendly gatherings we are able to indulge ourselves and our guests with a variety of flavored homebrew: priceless. The mark of a sweet dream in progress is a toast to health between glasses and ours all the sweeter for the friendships that have guided our learning and the ability to confidently raise a homebrew to cheer.

And now having learned the basics of the international beer standard, my creative imagination wanders toward new directions. While I enjoy very much the combination produced by mixing malted barley, hops, yeast, sugar, and water, a part of me is curious as to the wonders untasted of malting different grains or vegetables in combination with different herbs or fruits, especially focusing on local varieties available in season growing in our forest home. A true homebrew should carry the accent of the land it is brewed in so I wander the forest taking in the scent of meli leaves and maqui fruits, ponder how much sugar I can draw from malted avellanas or piƱones, what fragrance murta berries might impart, what bitterness and health properties can be found in adding artemisa or sage. Brewing as ancient art, as medicinal concoction, as a celebratory beverage, I think of my own ancestors protesting Prohibition, not wanting to lose all the unique brews that were outlawed and then forgotten within a generation. I am heartened to see homebrewing gaining popularity and especially the varieties that are resulting. A toast to our brewing dreams! Salud!