Yep! It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve finally started home brewing (with the help of some friends).
It all started when I attended the Steinbeck Home Brew Fest in Salinas, CA back at the beginning of May. I met some incredible people and felt like I could no longer just watch from the sideline; I had to brew my own. Where do you start?
I’ve been part of Umunhum Brewing and watched the guys home brew some test batches. I’ve watched brewers at established breweries go through the entire brewing process. But watching people and doing it yourself are two very different things, and I was dreading it a little bit. I was also very excited to be learning something new but also nervous that I was not going to be able to pull it off.
Towards the end of May, I met with a few more home brewers from Salinas and featured them on my website: Martha’s Hopyard and MiraCal Brew. That’s the day I took the plunge! Since I was in the area anyway, I paid a visit to Duane Shima, owner of Bottoms Up Homebrew Supplies in Seaside, CA and decided to buy myself a starter kit. I had already announced a deadline through a countdown on my website to hold myself accountable and set the date to June 30. It was ambitious and I needed to dive right in. So I did!
The starter kit sat in my garage for a week or two, and I finally decided to brew my first beer on June 2 with the help of my Umunhum colleague, Brian Winter. I picked a rather simple recipe for an extra pale ale with Mosaic, El Dorado and Eureka hops and thought I’d add a little something to it to make it a tad more interesting. I went through my kitchen cabinets and found some crème de cassis, a French blackcurrant liquor. We added a cup of that at the very end of the brew and hoped for the best. Lift The Kir-tain was born! Well… Not exactly… Hold your horses!
I waited about a week to dry hop my brew with the help of Umunhum colleagues David and Tobi, who are both part of the brew crew at Umunhum. I then waited another week for it to settle before racking it. My garage is not temperature controlled and reached some crazy high temperatures so I was worried it would ruin my beer. I transported it to another location with A/C right after dry hopping it. The damage had already potentially been done, but I wanted it to settle in optimal conditions. It seems to have worked!
David and I racked and bottled the beer on June 18. That too went well… for the most part. My brand-new bottle capper made in Italy worked great for the first 5 bottles but decided to break the next two. We transported the beer (yet again) to David’s house where we used his equipment. Phew! The beer was now in bottles and ready to drink… almost. It sat in my kitchen during the bottle carbonation process for 2 weeks. And now… it’s ready! It is a couple days late according to my website countdown, but hey… pretty darn close.
But let’s get back to that Lift The Kir-tain name. Shall we? I’m sure your are wondering about that funky curtain spelling anyway. Kir is a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis topped off with white wine (or bubbly). I remember drinking that as an apéritif almost every time we had people over at the house for dinner as a teenager living in Belgium. Lift The Kir-tain simply refers to the fact that this is my first home brew and that it is reminiscent of Kir. And voila!
I just want to thank Brian, David and Tobi one more time for all their help and patience through the process! I also have to thank my girlfriend for putting up with the mess and me talking about my beer almost every day for over a month. Ha!
Now it’s time to taste the fruit of my labor…. And it came out delicious! Of course, I’m probably a little biased, but I was really worried that the heat might have ruined it. It didn’t. The aroma is beautiful with a hint of crème de cassis. The flavors are bold and the first thing you taste is a slight touch of that same crème de cassis. The mouthfeel and the rest of the flavors are consistent with a good, solid pale ale. Wow! I’m relieved but also super proud of this first home brew. Lift The Kir-tain was officially born on July 2, 2019!
More photos of Lift The Kir-tain: