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Home Brews

September 29, 2010

My boss has been into brewing beer lately.  Almost every week, he’ll come into work and tell us about the new beer that he is concocting in his basement.  He goes into extreme detail about the fermenting process and the resting time and the sediment percentages.  When he talks about all the different flavor options (berry!  pumpkin!  rock candy!), he seriously can’t hide his excitement. 

But we like it best when he brings in samples. 

I’ve said before how I feel about beer.  On a scale from one to ten, I’d give it a meh, accompanied with a shrug.  The only time I really enjoy a beer is when it’s 95 degrees and the beer is so cold that the bottle sweats.  Usually, I can take it or leave it.  But there is something about a home brew that intrigues me. 

Now, I’m obviously not a brewmaster but in the past I’ve dabbled at making my own alcohol.  The first ill-fated attempt was my freshman year in college when a few friends and I decided to try our hand at making wine in our dorm room.  The ingredients consisted of a jug of Welch’s grape juice, active yeast and sugar.  For ten days, my roommate and I kept the bottle wrapped in a towel and stashed in a dresser drawer.  We would deligently wake up in the middle of the night every couple of hours to open the jug and release the gas that the yeast produced.  After a week and a half, we were ready to feast on the fruits of our labor.  All of our friends gathered in our tiny room as we carefully strained the “wine” through cheesecloth and handed out glasses.  We all toasted each other and our first attempt at creating alcohol.

The next morning, we were all sicker than dogs.

Thankfully, my attempts at “home brew” have gotten better over the years.  Now I start with actual, professionaly-made alcohol and just add a bit more flavor.  Here are two of my favorite recipes:

Apple Pie

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 gallon apple juice
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, or to taste
  • 1 liter Everclear (Yes, I said Everclear.  Trust me.  This actually ends up tasting really good.)

Place the apple cider, apple juice, cinnamon sticks, and sugar into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, and discard the cinnamon sticks. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then stir in Everclear. Pour into quart-size jars or bottles and refrigerate until ready to serve.  This is a great drink for autumn.  Serve it warmed in small glasses with a cinnamon stick; perfect for a cool evening!

Cranberry-Infused Vodka

  • 16 oz. cranberries
  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1 liter vodka

Roughly grind cranberries.  Combine with sugar and vanilla over low heat and stir.  Once sugar liquifies, remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Divide cranberry mixture in half and place in two large jars.  Add vodka.  Let sit in a cool, dark plac for one week.  Strain through cheese cloth and store in jars or bottles.  This is a great holiday liqueur and makes awesome cranberry martinis!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Florence permalink
    September 30, 2010 9:52 am

    I always knew that you were a closet lush!
    Seriously though, those recipes look mighty tasty.


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