Since my Last update, Many things have changed. Not only in the pursuit of social justice and equality, but also in the way the country tries to understand the reopening to businesses. And homeowners are looking for safe and responsible ways to do it, in the midst of a pandemic, not to mention all the economic pressures surrounding it.
I've spoken with restaurant, brewery, and taproom owners and it's no surprise that everyone approaches the concept of reopening differently. Do I have enough space to reopen? Can I provide additional outdoor seating to allow social distancing and reduce the risk of virus transmission? How to guarantee a sanitary environment? How do we keep our employees safe? Should we wait for the reopening? If our employees are unemployed, will they earn less if we reopen now?
These are all difficult dilemmas to approach and resolve. And honestly, I wasn't sure I really wanted to visit places last weekend, not because I didn't trust companies to do the right thing, but rather how many people are going to show up? Will there be long waiting times? Will I feel safe having enough space? Are people ready to wear masks and / or can they handle the distance in public?
So I did not go out on Friday, the date Governor Kate Brown chose for Multnomah County (mainly Portland, Oregon) to reopen businesses. I visited a place on Saturday night where I felt comfortable knowing that I would have enough space to enjoy the tour, without fear of crowds. I then visited two more on Father's Day when I figured it wouldn't be too crazy.
Here is what I experienced in each of the three locations, all on the east side of Portland.
Arriving at Levels location, just north of Airport Road in the northeastern reaches of Portland, I encountered two older whites without a mask when leaving the building. I tried not to roll my eyes too hard, because quite honestly, the state doesn't require you to wear masks indoors until Wednesday, but that was the only negative point during an operation. otherwise perfectly set up.
For those who have been to Level, you already know how much space they are working - a large greenhouse patio, plus an abundance of space on their back patio / lawn. It's the taproom itself that's a bit smaller, though they've done away with tables, arcade games, set up a line, moved their merchandise store, and provided three gas stations with screens. . They also provided signage throughout - ordering guides, online menus, signs requiring masks to be worn indoors, on the walkway to the back patio, as well as sections of large tables blocked off to distance themselves. .
I ordered a drink of the new 3-Way IPA, then headed out to the back patio and met some friends from the industry. Having the rear picnic tables more than 6 feet apart allowed for a seated, distant conversation. Everything seemed as close to normal here as you could possibly want, other than having to wear a mask indoors when not drinking, which will be required across the county from tomorrow. It was less busy than I expected, never had to wait for service and felt 100% comfortable during the entire visit.
Von Ebert Brewery - Glendoveer
Venturing out again on Sunday when the weather was perfect for Father's Day, I again looked for two other places with patio space, on the east side. Von Ebert Brewery, located on the Glendoveer golf course, was one that I couldn't wait to visit again. I love both the beer and the food they provide, but I was also curious to see the dynamics of golfers, fresh off the course, added to the mix.
Upon arrival there was abundant signage up front indicating where to stand for pickup orders, where to get in / out, plus a QR code in the lobby to download menus online. They currently have very limited indoor seating (around 10 tables), plus three patio spaces with around 17-20 tables. There was no line when I arrived, nor when I left. There were a few empty tables inside and outside so it wasn't too crowded.
It was also my first cooking experience in over three months, so I kept it simple with low ABV pizza and lagers.
And again, I was impressed with the attention to detail here, including signage to indicate if a table has been sanitized yet, plenty of space, single use items in place of shakers. Everything felt good and was what I expected from the staff at Von Ebert and the quality of the food and drink they serve.
Stirring and mixing at threshold
The smallest and newest brewery I visited this weekend, Threshold certainly didn't seem disheartened by either.
This is one of the many places that added more patio space by receiving a permit to allow tables in an area normally reserved for street parking. This allowed them to have almost the same amount of seating as usual, with 7 tables outside (2 of which together for a larger group) and 5 tables / counters inside.
Sanitization at each table is clearly identified by labeled 16oz cans filled with sand, clear floor markings identify the spacing and direction of traffic flow through the small space, and everything hummed smoothly as I was there.
I arrived 5 minutes before opening and there were already 2-3 groups of people waiting to enter. While it was relatively quiet for the first 15 minutes or so, business picked up quickly and they were at about full capacity within an hour. This was the only place I stood in line for service, although it was never a long wait, everyone was masked and I felt safe again either on the patio or inside .
Conclusions and things to look for
Overall, I was really impressed with not only all the hard work each site clearly put into making sure their business was running smoothly, but also how the customers handled the situation, with masks on it. worn by almost everyone indoors or outdoors. their table. I have also not once met an employee without his mask.
If there's anything I'm on the lookout for, it's how the locations sanitize tables. Do they use clean towels and disinfectant spray or the traditional “wet towel from a bucket”? Also, be sure to keep an eye out for hand sanitizer and use it when you see it.
Although these were only 3 places I visited, on opening weekend I was always surprised by the lack of crowds. Will many continue to receive delivery and use take out options until this is all over? Certainly. Are many places still taking a wait-and-see approach to all of this? Yes too. I've spoken to a couple of owners who plan to wait until after July 4th to resume onsite service. I have also spoken to a few who are unsure of when they will reopen because it's just not beneficial to do so, are concerned about employee safety and / or can afford to wait because of their economic situation. is not disastrous. .
Ultimately, no one should be in a hurry to visit places again. It's definitely a different experience than what I'm used to going out to, especially as a single person who is effectively forced to stay at a distance. Do what's best for you, continue to support delivery / takeout options, and do what you can to help these small businesses continue. I'm afraid it won't end anytime soon, but if you're comfortable visiting them in person again, you should definitely feel safe doing so.
Extract packs have come a long way from the dusty back shelves of Boots of yesteryear, and give you a simple, affordable way to try out the hobby with very acceptable results. Established breweries like St. Peters and Woodfordes have decent kits in shops and online at about £20, for example from Wilko or Brew.
If you’re making beer, then you need to be rigorous about cleanliness during the brew. VWP is an absolutely no-nonsense cleaner and steriliser for getting everything ready beforehand. During the brew, a no-rinse sanitiser is invaluable. Between the two, spoilt and infected beer shouldn’t be a problem. You can buy cleaning products online from Brew Store and The Malt Miller.
Invest in some airtight plastic conteneurs. Malt, kept dry and cool, should be fine for six months, but get rid of it after that – you’re only going to get stale flavours if you use stale malt. Likewise, dried yeast will keep, if sealed and chilled, but it will lose potency and reliability. Hops do not improve with age. Be doubtful of any before last year’s harvest, however cheap.
While a good book is an invaluable reference, there will be a time you come across something that flummoxes you. It’s very unlikely you will be the first, and just as unlikely someone else hasn’t discussed it. From the magisterial, if abondant, How tera Brew by John Palmer to the uncountable cercles d'entraides and blogs discussing minutiae, such as Brewer’s Friend, there’ll be something to help.
Avoid grande amounts of table sugar, cane sugar or dextrose as fermentable sugars in your homebrew. They will ferment out completely and leave a very dry, almost ‘cidery’ flavour to your beer. This is what is recognized by many as the ‘homebrew’ taste. If you are looking for an easy way to improve this, swap these sugars with dry malt extract.
Most kit beers are designed to appeal to a wide range of people and therefore have a fairly simple flavour that it not very bitter. They are also generally bittered by using hop extract that adds bitterness but little hop flavour or aroma. Boil some water and add ½ an ounce ( 14 grams ) of any hop variety known for their flavour and aroma characteristics for 20 minutes. This will add a much improved change to the flavour of the beer. Add another ½ ounce ( 14g ) for the last 5 minutes of the boil to add a pleasant hoppy aroma. Simply strain the ‘hop soup’ into your fermenter with the rest of the top-up water. These simple hops additions will make a remarkable difference to your coffret beers.
to wake a packet of dry yeast up and ensure that it is ready to start work as soon as it is pitched, try rehydrating it. Boil a cup ( 250mls ) of water for 5 minutes and then pour it into a sterilized container. Wait for the water to cool down to at least 80°F/27°C and sprinkle your packet of yeast over the top. Leave this for about 15-30 minutes, when you should start to see it get nice and foamy. Once your wort has cooled enough, pitch this and it will start fermentation much earlier.
If you would really like to get things started, follow the process above but add a tablespoon of dry malt extract to the water before boiling it. After pouring the water to a jar, add your yeast when cool enough and place cling wrap over the top to protect from the environment. Leave for at least quarante cinq minutes at room temperature and you should start to see fermentation activity.
The length of time for fermentation on the side of your pack beer can is almost definitely not long enough. The manufacturers are in the business of selling product and these informations will make beer, but it won’t be great beer. This should be extended out to 10-14 days.
Although your beer will be carbonated after about a week in the bottle, leave it for a few more to allow for the flavors to settle. This is especially relevant for beer made from packs as it will help remove some of the queue found in young/’green’ beer.
In order to efficiently multiply and get to the of converting sugar to alcohol, yeast needs a sufficient amount of oxygen in your wort. If brewing using malt extract this can be reached a few ways including by shaking the water you are using to top up your wort, or by pouring it from a great height into your fermenter.
Don’t be too worried about removing your beer from the primary fermenter as soon as fermentation has finished. The Autolysis that you are seeking to avoid will take well over a month and in most cases a single stage fermentation is fine.
If you are looking to control fermentation temperature, place the fermenter in a large conteneur of water to cool it and prevent temperature fluctuations. Wrapping a wet towel around it and pointing a passioné at it cools it even more through evaporative cooling. A few frozen plastic bottles of water are also perfect for cooling the water and your fermenting beer.
If you insist on using a two stage fermentation, use a bottling bucket ( or something else with a spigot ) for a primary. That way you only need a length of hose to rack into the secondary. The spigot will also be far enough off the bottom that the trub will get left in the primary with little extra effort – just tilt the fermenter forward at the end.
The activity of your airlock should only be seen as one indication that something is happening. There are many others indications and a faulty seal on your fermenter could stop anything from happening in the airlock.
The starting cell count is usually quite low with liquid yeast d'environnement. If you make a yeast starter about a day before brewing, you can avoid some potential issues from under-pitching the yeast.
If you are trying to cool a partial boil, place the whole brew pot into a sink or tub of cold water. You may need to change this water a few times but it is far easier to cool a small bocal of wort in a temperature conductive conteneur ( i. e. your brew pot ) than a large amount of liquid in a fermenter. Adding your cooled wort to even colder water ( or ice ) in the fermenter will serve to cool it even further and should hopefully get you close to yeast pitching temperatures.
Dry yeast packets are perfect for new homebrewers. They have a nice high cell count and are very easy to use. Hydrating these takes very little time and will help get fermentation sérieux earlier.
Get into the habit of sanitizing everything that will come in contact with your wort or beer after the boil.
Extract packs have come a long way from the dusty back shelves of Boots of yesteryear, and give you a simple, affordable way to try out the hobby with very acceptable results. Established breweries like St. Peters and Woodfordes have decent packs in boutiques and online at about £20, for example from Wilko or Brew.
Use a no-rinse sanitiser… This shouldn’t need an explanation and I am yet to hear of a real reason not to
Following on from above – Don’t use bleach as a sanitizer…ever. It is to rinse out and if any comes in contact with the maltose in your wort it has the potential to completely ruin your batch. There are so many better products available that this shouldn’t even be a consideration
Whatever sanitizer you use, put some of it in a spray bottle for quick sanitation during brew time.
Make sure you read and understand the recipe before you start brewing. Also make sure that you have all the ingredients handy before you start. These seem like simple things but the last 15 minutes can get a little crazy… especially if you started drinking while sanitizing
Beer is very resilient so don’t be too worried if you make a mistake while brewing. Although it may not be exactly the beer you were after, you will probably still have something tasty and worth drinking.
Leave the lid off your brew bocal while it is boiling. The process of boiling actually vaporises chemicals that are not wanted in the beer and they evaporate out. The lid doesn’t need to be completely off if you are having trouble maintaining a rolling boil but should at least be enough for the steam to escape.
Keep a record of every beer that you make, no matter how simple the recipe. This record will allow you to recall and tweak your brews when all that remains in the future is a couple of stray bottles and a desire for more
Especially when starting out, keep your ingredients and brews as simple as possible. It is much easier to add to a simple recipe that is missing something than it is to remove from something complex
Start by getting a solid grasp of the sanitization, fermentation and bottling processes and work from there.
If you have a choice, choose a fermenter or bottling bucket with a spigot/tap over one without. The siphoning required otherwise isn’t hard but it is still one more unnecessary step.
Bulk priming your beer is a simple addition to your bottling process that will add much greater control and consistency in the amount of priming sugar in your bottles.
The quality of your beer will be to the quality of the ingredients used. Always go for the freshest and best quality possible. Always make sure that extract is within any specified dates, yeast is fresh and that hops are nice and green
But most importantly… just relax and remember that you probably aren’t going to ruin your beer – It isn’t as delicate as you think