I always like to make the most of the new year and use this as an opportunity to reset and to create some healthy habits. That means that pretty much every January there’s a lot of cleaning, moving and reshuffling that happens in my house and ultimately life. Having decided to recently claim back one of our rooms in our house into a home office/ storage room for all my home brew gear, I realised I had a lot of ingredients that’ve just been sat in a my house doing nothing. So, that got me thinking, what would it look like if I challenged myself to brew only beer in the month of January using ingredients I have in my house. After a little more reflection and the launch of Tryanuary, we wanted to try and see what beers we could produce with all the left over ingredients from previous brews or stuff we can find in our kitchen shelves all with the aim of trying something new we probably never would’ve tried.
What’s the point in the challenge? Why not just brew the normal stuff you do and buy the grains you want when you want? Why can’t I just seal the bag and then re-use it in 6 months? These are all questions I’m going to tackle.
No one likes to waste money right? As I layout all the grains I have on the table I worked out I probably have enough grains for about 3-4 separate brews (depending on ABV’s and beer styles obviously). Wouldn’t it be annoying if I just put those grains back into the new space and then forget about them and then 6-9 months later I would potentially have to throw them out. That’d really suck. This is your chance to use up your left overs and to turn them into an awesome beer (hopefully).
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had those grains in your cupboard for a good 9 months if not closer to a year. Now, that’s not a problem if you’ve stored them correctly. So, that means you’ve kept them out of sunlight and they are sealed so that oxygen can’t get to them and kept them somewhere in the region of 10°-21°C /50° -70°F. If you’ve done all that above then you’re good to brew on. However if you’ve not done that, there’s a chance that your grains might not be good to use any more so it’s worth check them out asap.
Craft breweries are known for pushing the boundaries not just in their businesses and the way they fund their businesses but also by the products they are producing and their passion. I believe home brewers are no different. I’m regularly speaking to new home brewers and I always tell them never settle for what “you should do” and push the boundaries.
What does this mean for me in January? So, I’ve been wanting to experiment with a dry hopped coffee IPA. So, what I’ll be doing this month is using the grains I have to brew a 5 gallon batch of my IPA but then split the batch between 5 gallon demijohns and then add a couple different coffee beans to the beer whilst also playing with different coffee methods. I probably wouldn’t want to do this throughout the year as I would be worried about destroying the beer but as I forgot about these ingredients and they are slowly approaching their end of life, I won’t feel bad if 1-2 gallons don’t turn out very well. More so if the final result is that i’ve learnt a lot more about using coffee in beer, I would classify it as a success.
There’s no real rules to this challenge other than to challenge yourself by using up your spare ingredients whether it’s hops, yeast, grains or some other random items. Enjoy the process and try something new and keep brewing.
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