Writing craft beer reviews over the last few years has stoked my interest in brewing my own suds. I’ve been invited to brew days by my compadres the SoCal Cerveceros, a rapidly growing Latino home brew club. While I know how much I will enjoy learning a craft that will result in tasty brews, I also know how compulsive I can get with a new hobby. When I learned how to golf it became an obsession that led to me collecting a literal forest of persimmon woods in my garage, so if learning how to brew beer will result in a refrigerator full of beer then so be it!
I heard that El Indio Botanas Y Cerveza would be hosting a home brew class led by husband and wife, Robert and Zaida Ramirez, @Amor_Y_Cerveza on Instagram and AmorYCerveza.com, their blog. Robert and Zaida have been home brewing for three years and belong to the Long Beach Home Brew Club where they now live,, they’re both originally from Santa Ana and Robert works at El Indio. In less than a year El Indio Botanas Y Cerveza has established itself as the go to spot for Baja Craft Beer and delicious home made Mexican food in Orange County. Most evenings they have a D.J. spinning jams, weekends they’ll have live music and their Taco Tuesday is one of the best around with $1 tacos and $3 Indio beers.
The class started at noon on a Saturday so everyone ordered their food and got ready to learn how to brew beer. I opted for the tacos de barbacoa, 3 tacos stuffed with perfectly cooked meat, tender and flavorful, other favorites are the tacos de canasta, sopes, Mole chicken wings and the quesadillas. The Baja Craft beer list is a variety of styles from Border Psycho, Fauna, Agua Mala, Insurgente and Wendlant priced at $5 and $6, this school Rocks!
Robert and Zaida were going to teach us a method of brewing that is becoming popular called Brew In the Bag. This process is perfect if you don’t have the room for a full home brew system that can include up to 3 to 4 separate vessels. Local home brewer, Thien Le, uses this method since he lives in an apartment and his beers have earned numerous awards, including a second place medal at the 2018 National Home Brew Competition held this June in Portland, Oregon. Home brewing takes time so if possible you will want to start early in the morning. Robert and Zaida took us through all the steps up to fermentation, they were going to take the “wort” home and add the yeast there. They not only explained the steps on how to brew but gave us insight on possible mistakes you can make at that particular stage of brewing, they let us ask questions as we progressed through the brewing process. Since it did take some time they also talked about the different grains that are used in brewing beer and passed around containers of grains so we could taste and smell them, they also did this with the different hops that they were using. They did emphasize the importance of sanitation, always had a spray bottle of Star San handy and used it constantly on the ladle they were using to stir the grain as it boiled. Robert is Mexican and Zaida is from El Salvador so they use their different cultures to influence the styles of beer they brew, Tamarind Passion Heff and Ponche Double IPA are just 2 examples of what types of beer they are creating. YUM!
Here are the steps to BIAB, click here to watch a video on BIAB.
- The MASH > 60 minutes. Heat 5 gallons of water to 160 degrees, add mesh bag and stir in grain, constantly stir so no lumps form.
- The BOIL > 60 minutes. Pull out the bag and rinse it with water to collect additional sugars in the pot. Bring 6 gallons of wort to boil, add hops once the water is at “rolling boiling”.
- COOL THE WORT – After the boil you will have sugar water called “wort”. Now is the time to cool this as fast as you can to room temperature using an ice bath or wort chiller.
- PITCH THE YEAST – Transfer your wort to a clean fermenter or glass carboy. Pitch the yeast at or near 70 degrees and move the fermenter to a cool dark area.
- FERMENTATION > 2 WEEKS. Ferment your beer for 2 weeks. During this step the yeast eats the sugar in the wort and converts it to alcohol (YAY!) and CO2 gas. you can also add more hops to dry hop the beer or you can also add fruit or anything you like to add additional flavors. After the 2 weeks you can bottle or keg the beer. Enjoy!
You will need to visit a home brew store and Robert and Zaida recommend Windsor Home Brew Supply in Costa Mesa, an entry level home brew system can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 depending on what you want. If you know specifically what you will need Windsor can custom build your system. Muchos Gracias to El Indio, Oscar Olivares, Chef Ramon and Robert and Zaida! I might be changing my # to #BobbyBrewsBeer! Cheers! 🍺🍺🍺