Well, the decision’s been made: we will brew not one, but two beers for our next batch. The first one will be a Bavarian Hefeweizen, thanks to my parents that got the kit for me for Christmas. This particular beer is a “wheat beer,” so if you’ve ever had a Boulevard Wheat or a Blue Moon, you generally know what it will be like. The flavor will probably be more like a traditional German wheat beer however, so it likely won’t have the “fruity” nature of the aforementioned beer examples, but the texture, consistency, etc. will be very similar.
Secondly, I just ordered an India Pale Ale (IPA) kit. This one will be quite a bit “hoppier,” which is the bitter flavor you get. If you’ve ever had a Pale Ale, this one will be even more bitter. Over the years, mostly due to the influence of Schlafly’s Pale Ale, I’ve grown to enjoy hoppy beers more than others, so I’m rather excited to try my hand at an IPA. It gets the name because hops helped prevent the beer from spoiling they were shipped from England to India back in the 18th century (although that claim is disputed), so they would add a ridiculous amount of hops to them to preserve the beer for the long trip. Apparently, that style of beer was also well-regarded amongst the people of India, increasing its popularity abroad.
We’ll brew both of these over the long MLK weekend. Thanks to my Dad, I’ve got a few glass carboys I can use for extra brewing volume, allowing me to ferment multiple beers at a time. The Hefeweizen should take 6 weeks, but if it goes anything like the Honey Brown Ale we brewed earlier, it’ll probably be ready before then. The IPA, on the other hand, could take 2 months. It’s a beer that needs a Secondary Fermentation, meaning that we will transfer from the Primary Fermenter into a Secondary vessel to allow the beer to age for upwards of a month before we bottle it. This is where it’s nice having multiple fermentation vessels available, so that while one beer is “coming off the line” into bottling, the other one can continue aging and be ready for bottling by the time I’ve got more bottles available to put it in!
The timing will be interesting, as the IPA can handle 62 F temperatures, while the Hefeweizen prefers slightly warmer temperatures in the mid- to high-60s F. The basement of our house is running in the mid- to upper-50s F, so once fermentation begins (i.e. bubbles start appearing in the air lock, due to yeast generating carbon dioxide), I’ll move the vessels downstairs where they can continue on their merry way. However, as the temperature is cooler downstairs, the yeast will probably act a touch slower than we would otherwise prefer. Therefore, it could take longer to complete…but, the Honey Brown was done ahead of time, so the temperature downstairs didn’t seem to matter all that much. We’ll just have to see!
Regardless, I’m excited to try a few more beer varieties. Assuming we get it all done between January 14 – 17, we should expect that the Hefeweizen will be done and drinkable toward the end of February and the IPA will be ready by mid-March.
This is the general plan for brewing, methinks. We’ll generally try to have one “long-term” beer fermenting, and then supplement with a “short-term” beer in between. Kinda depends on how many bottles we’ve got lying around for them. The Honey Brown aged very well over time and has definitely improved since bottling, so we’ll do our best to leave some bottles downstairs aging at all times, including some of the Honey Brown to see how it does months after completion.