Brewing with kids…
Do you use them whole or pelletised? 😉
If anyone has had the pleasure of attempting to brew with two kids in tow, they know the joys of a brew day that can take twice as long as your usual brew day. Having the kids around shouldn’t prevent you from brewing though… it’s still possible.
I try to crush my grain the evening prior to the brew day, measure out my water and make sure the mash tun has been cleaned out… we all know about the horrible little mildew spots that we get when we haven’t dried the equipment before putting it away.
I get the strike water on to heat while they’re having their breakfast and it’s usually just getting to the right temperature when they’ve finished and I’ve stuck their bowls in the dishwasher, mopped up their mess and stuck Paw Patrol on Netflix for them.! The mash tun gets warmed up with a kettle full of water and we’re ready to dough in…
Sometimes, I will just do a full volume / no-sparge mash to save time and effort. To do this without having to break the big kit out just yet, I will employ one of the following two methods. First option is to heat half the water to strike temperature, then get the mash going before heating and adding the rest of water after 20 – 30 minutes or so. The second option is to heat up as much water to boiling as I can manage, then add cold to drop it to strike temperature. This method takes a bit more calculating and also requires the use of the odd kettle full of water to get the temperature just right.
What usually follows is a mash of anywhere up to 3 hours.! Whilst kids run riot, errands are run, hoovering is done, lunch is made and hops are weighed out. Then it’s finally time to break out the big kit… the gas burner and 50l pot are set up outside, the mash tun drained and the kids exiled to the garden while I’m out there supervising the boil. Fortunately, at this time of year and for the next few months, the draw of a 15’ trampoline in a big back garden usually mean that resistance is minimal. I drain the tun into a couple of buckets, or sometimes a coolbox for transporting outside to the kettle.
I stay out in the garden while the brew is boiling to make sure the kids stay away from it and to enjoy the garden, obviously.! On the big kit, the wort is up to boiling pretty rapidly; 10 minutes is about the most I’m looking at to get the whole lot up to boiling. I use a hop spider to try and help keep everything as clear as I can… it tends to work, but I do have to give it a swirl around the wort to keep the hops moving. All in all, the boil is a fairly standard boil. During the boil I’ll probably be pestered once or twice asking for snacks. I can still stay with the boil AND keep the area safe, by sending the oldest (7yo) to get a couple of bananas or apples for herself and the youngest (3yo). Still on track.!
I’m not messing about with chilling while I have the kids in tow as its another step that needs my time and attention. So, I either empty the kettle into a ‘no-chill’ vessel, or I do a partial chill which involves draining into two sealable 12l buckets and sticking those into a bath of cold water. This brings them down to a pitchable temperature in a few hours or so. If I use the ‘no-chill’ method, I just pitch the yeast the next morning. If I use the partially chilled method, then I find I am able to pitch later that night, once the monsters kids have gone to bed.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that there have been times when I have been unable/unwilling to have a brew day while I have been on kiddycare duty, but generally, depending on what else you need to do that day, you can usually still manage a brew day when you have the kids in tow. So, stop making excuses and GET A BLOODY BREW ON..!!