Se Noyer Brewing Home Page

Se Noyer Brewing is Alan Schwartz and M.G. Bertulfo, two avid 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.

How we make beer

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) yourself:
  1. Gather the ingredients (see recipes below). We purchase ours at a shop called Oak Barrel, in Berkeley. Our main ingredients typically include:
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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 15 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Meanwhile, we prepare the yeast by adding it to some sterilized hot water (150 F) and letting it sit for 15 minutes.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 it.
  13. 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).
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 later).

Se Noyer Recipes

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.