Se Noyer Brewing Home Page
Se Noyer Brewing is
homebrewers. Se noyer is a French verb, meaning "to drown
oneself", Alan's favorite verb when he was learning French. Now
we drown ourselves in our homebrew goodness.
Homebrewing is an easy and fun hobby, and the results are extremely
palatable! While the beer links at the end of this page contain
plenty of detailed information on how to get started homebrewing,
here's a short summary of our process for producing
5 gallons of beer, which we hope will entice
you to consider trying your hand at zymurgy (the art of beermaking)
The whole brewing process takes about 3-4 hours (including sanitizing
and clean-up) on the brewing day, and 1-2 hours on the bottling day.
It's just like cooking (except that you taste the results 3 weeks
Here's a list of the beer we've made so far. Usually, we write our
own recipes or adapt those from homebrewing books or web pages
(two of our favorite books are The New Complete Joy of
Homebrewing and The Homebrewer's Companion,
both by Charlie Papazian.)
Future plans include some sort of fruit ale, a stout, a rye beer,
and a blueberry mead.
- Gather the ingredients (see recipes below).
We purchase ours at a shop called Oak Barrel, in Berkeley.
Our main ingredients typically include:
- malt extract, a syrup or powder extracted from malted barley, wheat,
or other grains. This provides the sugars for the yeast to convert to
alcohol, as well as the sweetness of the beer
- specialty malts, roasted grains which provide stronger flavor or
color to the beer
- hops, a dried flower which provides the bitterness of the beer, as
well as a distinctive taste and aroma.
- yeast, a microorganism which eats sugar and excretes alcohol and
carbon dioxide - so it both ferments the beer, and carbonates it. We use
dry yeast, because it's easy to work with; others may use liquid yeast
- water. Because we have an electric stove, it's difficult to
get all 5 gallons boiling, so we usually brew with 1.5 gallons of
water, and add the result to 3.5 gallons of chilled Arrowhead.
If you can, though, it's better to use as much water as possible
in the brewing.
- Sanitize everything. Maintaining cleanliness is crucial to
making good homebrew. Anything that's going to come into contact
with beer after the boiling process should be sanitized. We
often pre-clean glass with a dilute bleach solution, but for actual
santizing, we tend to prefer iodophor solutions.
- We begin by cracking the hulls of the specialty malts, with a
rolling pin, and then putting them and the brewing water into our
brewpot. We bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and then strain
out the grains, which otherwise become bitter.
- Then we add the malt extract and the first batch of hops, the
bittering hops, which will provide the bitterness of
the brew, and boil for 45 minutes or so. Stir like crazy, so the
extract doesn't burn on the bottom of the pot, and watch for boilovers!
- Then we add the second batch of hops, the flavor hops
which provide the hoppy taste, along with 1/4 teaspoon of irish moss,
a seaweed which promotes beer clarity, and continue boiling for
- Finally, we turn off the heat and add the last batch of hops,
the aroma hops, which provide the hoppy smell of the beer.
They steep for 2 minutes.
- We take the brewpot off the stove and cool it as quickly as
possible, usually in our ice-water-filled bathtub for 15 minutes.
The prefermented beer is called wort, by the way.
- Meanwhile, we prepare the yeast by adding it to some sterilized
hot water (150 F) and letting it sit for 15 minutes.
- We pour the wort through a strainer into our carboy
(a fancy name for a 5-gallon glass Sparklett's bottle) along with
the chilled Arrowhead, until we reach 5 gallons, and a temperature
of 65-75 F.
- Then we dump in the yeast, and attach an airtight cover to the
carboy, with a blow-off tube with its end in a jar of clean
water. This is an air lock - the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast
can escape safely, but outside air (with all its wild yeast and
bacteria contaminants) can't get in. We cover the carboy with a towel,
because sunlight spoils beer. We also usually measure the specific
gravity of the wort, which indicates how much sugar is dissolved
in the wort, using a hydrometer, which looks like a floating thermometer.
By comparing this measurement to a measurement at the end of the
fermentation, we can calculate how much alcohol is in the beer.
- Now we wait for 4-7 days while fermentation takes place. You can
watch foam form on the surface of the beer as it ferments, and hear
the air lock bubble as it releases carbon dioxide. When the foam
falls and the beer clears, fermentation is complete.
- We then add 3/4 cup of corn sugar to prime the beer
for bottling. The yeast will eat this sugar while in the bottle,
and the trapped carbon dioxide will be forced into the beer, carbonating
- Finally, we transfer the beer into bottles (5 gallons is about 48
bottles of beer) and cap them. Wait a couple weeks, and they're ready
to drink (though they often improve over the next month as they age).