As you may know if you have been following my little blog I am currently back in California and living in beautiful Sonoma County. I am trying my best to be a good steward of the earth and working on being more involved with the community. I try my best to buy locally sourced/made products, consume and reuse more and buy less. I am trying to create what I love to call my own little homestead. And in my option no good homestead would be complete without something delicious to drink which was made right on the "Farm" (I put that in quotes because I don't actually live on a farm it is more of a backyard cottage) But I digress...let us get back to the main issue at hand and that is: Beer.
Beer. You may or may not like it, but I love it and I love making it. I have been home brewing now for about 6 years, it was something I started doing on the stove of my little Manhattan apartment.
When I was home brewing in NYC I was doing a modified version from what most serious home brewers would do when they have ample space outdoors. So I didn't really have as much waste to dispose of i.e. spent grain and/or use as much water for cleaning large home brewing equipment. I must say that if you are interested in saving money and truly enjoy knowing what ingredients go into making something that you consume, home brewing is a pretty great way to do that. Just like baking your own cookies, making your own soap or shampoo etc. when you make something yourself you know what your putting inside your body. Also you can typically make it in bulk and there for save money on buying individually packaged items that had to travel a long way to get to the store.
When I was home brewing in nyc I only used a small amount of grain that I would need to dispose of and I would usually dry it out and make bread or something. I also made my own ice to cool my little 3 gallon pot down with. But now that I am here in CA I have tons or space to home brew on a larger and more proper scale. However, that means consuming and using more water and now instead of a pound or two of spent grain I have like 20-30lbs.
Now in commercial brewing most breweries have literally tons and tons of spent grain that they need to dispose of and so most places contract out with a local farmer who comes and takes away that grain to feed to their cows or sheep etc. Luckily for me the neighbors across the street have chickens and goats so after we are done we walk the grain over to them so the goats can enjoy the spoils. When I was brewing 5 gallon batches on my stove, making my own ice to cool down the pot wasn't very hard if I started making ice a day or two before. However when you are making 35 gallons of beer there is just no way you can cool it down the same way. So we use what is called a Wort Chiller that is a big coil that is set inside the beer and then has cold water run through to chill off the liquid. When the beer is done brewing and we need to chill it down we use the water that comes out the other end of the chiller to clean carboys and any other equipment that we have dirtied from the brew. This way all that water is not wasted.
Another way that I am able to reuse instead of buy more when I make beer is by recycling, cleaning and then filling again any bottles that I put my home brew in. I just have a separate container that I keep those in after I use them and clean them out each time. This way I don't have to buy more bottles.
For me I happen to love beer and beer making but for those of you out there that might not feel the same way that is okay. There are many other ways out there to save money, help the environment and be a good steward of the earth all while making your own products and having fun. For example you could make your own soap, wine, cheese, olive oil, soda, you could raise chickens, bees, make kombucha, grow a garden, you could do canning, or knit, crochet the list goes on and on and on. Get out there and figure out what you enjoy and figure out a way that you can take some pressure off the environment buy consuming more and buying less.
For those of you out there that might be interested in learning more about home brewing here is a link to the best book out there:
Okay that is all for this post. Keep tuning in for more of my homestead adventures. I have been considering making my own laundry detergent....i think it might be kind of awesome.