Brewskis with the sifr folks

I like alcohol. A lot.

It's only natural that I get up to some mischief at home from time to time and I've managed to save a lot of money doing this. If anything, I try to live/embody the pragmatic sifr lifestyle as much as I can. I also happen to be a very curious person. I love researching things to the point of obsession. I'm passionate about Great White Sharks, Craft Beer, Football as much as I am about making garments. I'd like to know a little about a lot of things rather than a lot about a few. Bad? Good? You decide.

I'd like to share one of my latest obsessions. Studying in Boston, I started drinking a lot of beer. The days of picking up a case of Harpoon's Summer Ale, slicing a bunch of fresh oranges and watching the baseball on end are some of the best memories of my college days.

We're lucky to be in Singapore, where some of the best stuff in the world is readily available. In Indonesia, where I'm from, things are more controlled and some of our basic wants here are not available there. I chanced upon the Good Beer Company in Singapore. This place has to be one of the most interesting spots in Singapore. It is a Hawker stall dedicated to craft beer, and I mean dedicated.

Another one of the better craft beer spots in the city has to be Jungle Beer. They run a small brewery in Sembawang and they have a line up of about 7-8 beers. They also do some nice private label beers for other folks in the city.


A couple of months ago, I chanced upon the concept of home brewing. I spent some time online and discovered the guys from Ibrew Singapore retail a kit that that's pretty fuss-free for DIY beer. It was also my birthday in December last year so it was only logical that I asked for my new toy at that time. I had a few chats with Raymond from Ibrew and it was finally delivered in one piece ready to go. (Sorry for the Iphone photos, but I didn't plan on blogging this until I realized how awesome the whole process was).

A week before brewing, I cancelled all appointments on Friday night, made all necessary preps (remember to put your yeast and malt extract in the fridge, and sanitize thoroughly) and asked the wife for a few hours of peace and quiet (hoping she didn't read that).

I thought about the plan of action and I set the whole station up, computer and all. With the help of my trusted housekeeper, we were off and brewing in no time. Just make sure you follow the instructions with the help of the short DVD video.

I'd hate to ruin the process for some of you guys by going into a heap of detail but here's a couple of things you need to do so you don't make the same mistakes I did:

1) Sanitize everything
2) Keep your temperature low 18 - 25 Degrees Celsius during fermentation. Keep your temperatures consistent over the fermentation period.
3) Do not throw in the yeast until you test your Original Gravity.
4) And the most important thing; Be Patient!!

If you'd like to try some I would be more than happy to share in my hobby. I have recently started bottling after my 6 day fermentation period. We are planning a party to relaunch PACT (our retail space) with all the new tenants so I'll be sure to bring out a few bottles for a few taste testers. That is 3 weeks from today so the brew should be good to go by then.

Here is a progress report to make sure you are on the right track:

Same day - Yeast build up at top layer in small coin sized portions. Sparingly dispersed. I was worried I might've bombed this thing.

Day 1 - Woke up in morning to see a huge layer of foam and all yeast on top of foam. A lot of yeast buildup at bottom. This was beautiful.

Day 2 - A nice Cakey/Desert smell. Thick Foam started to reduce. Yeast has started to go over to the sides of the krausen collar and dry up.

Day 3 - Starting to smell like beer. Foam has dissipated except for a thin layer. Yeast has dried up and stuck on the sides of krausen collar.

Day 4 - Removed Krausen collar and taken a Gravity reading using the Hydrometer.

Day 5 - More gravity readings with the Hydrometer.

Day 6 - Bottling started after two consecutive same gravity readings.

My Observations and learnings:
The beauty about this thing is it's all in trial and error. There are a few things to follow but the rest of it is based on how deep you want to go. I don't like projects with too many rules, and the people in this community have the same mindset; follow simple instructions and just have fun with it. I recommend this kit for anyone looking to start doing projects at home. You won't believe how attached you'll be to this one. This thing will consume you.

Go here:

ibrew Singapore

The Taste Test - 3 weeks later - I have to admit, upon cracking open my first bottle, I was a little skeptical. I did the pour, waited for the beer to settle, had a look at the level of carbonation and then took a deep breath. I gave the beer a nice swirl, a good whiff and swilled it down.

Tasting Notes - A little sour to start with. Carbonation was good. Slightly heavy with a traditional Ale taste. Very drinkable still. ABV is between 4.5% - 4.8%. This would be ideal with a slice of orange as well. Over the course of keeping the bottle open, the beer became a little flat for my taste. It seemed like it was just missing something over the course of the 750 ML bottle. Not bad for a first effort!

Future Notes - I brought some of this beer to Ibrew and spoke with Raymond down there and he was very helpful. He mentioned that the sour notes were due to a lack of cleaning and proper sanitizing of the equipment. He mentioned that my pour should be more sensitive to keep all of the carbonation intact in the glass. Look to pour with minimal froth. Also, look to keep the Brew in your fridge for up to 45 days before you begin your first pour. He still graduated me to the next level anyway. I'm officially no longer a White Belt in the field of Home brewing.

Enjoy and let us know if you have any questions.
Happy Brewing!

- SM



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