Stout, Ale, Lager, Pilsner …

… these are all types of beer. And they’re all handcrafted in the Buchanan Brewery by Brewmaster Len—henceforth referred to as Himself.

Brewmaster Len

All beer can be classified as either lager or ale—the difference begins during the brewing process. Whether the beer is an ale or lager is determined by the type of yeast used in the brew and the temperature at which fermentation takes place.

Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast that allows for rapid fermentation at warmer temperatures. Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast that ferments more slowly and at colder temperatures.

Himself has deemed “brew day” his favorite day. The smell of sweet wort bubbling away stirs something primordial in his brain.

Herself has deemed “brew day” her least favorite day as the smell of sweet wort bubbling away makes her sick—it stinks to high heaven! Hence this part of the process takes place in the garage portion of the brewery.

Made in 5-gallon batches, the last batch was American pale ale and the current batch is Scottish ale. Himself has declared that the next bath will be an English brown ale.

The art of making beer

Beer making is a delicate process

Once he gets to the cool and ferment processes, Himself turns into a doting parent, frequently checking on his “baby”—precious brew—to make certain that the bubbles in the airlock on the fermenter are indeed bubbling at the recommended rate.

In due time (typically 3 weeks during which the primary and secondary fermentations have taken place), if the brew has behaved itself, it’s time to move to the priming and bottling stage.

Stand back everyone, every single thing has been sterilized to within an inch of its life! If you come too close, Himself is liable to lunge at you, wild-eyed, with a large siphon, and perhaps even shout words that could singe your hair!

Upon completion, Himself has to wait—sampling periodically, mind you. The blessed day finally arrives and Himself gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Cheers!


Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

14 thoughts on “Stout, Ale, Lager, Pilsner …

  1. How sweeet of you to share with us Len/Himself obsession and creative talent in making beer!

    Too funny too! His man cave in the garage looks effective and Himself seems to be in the flow of creating brews to please many a pallet!

    I am Love, Jeff

    PS: I like the new icon photo!

    • Jeff – I’m glad you stopped by to check out the “man cave”Len does love his garage! Thank you for the compliment on the photo. It’s my new byline photo that will appear with my articles.

  2. Cheers right back to both of you! I shared this with Rick this morning as he was heading out the door to begin his day. He had such a wistful look on his face and was bending in to study the photos more closely. And there seemed to be an awful lot of muffled sighing going on! Smiling at your description of the importance of COMPLETE sterilization…..of EVERYTHING. And the smell! Many memories and some good chuckles. Thank you Laurie and Len 🙂

  3. Evidently, Laurie, people who like beer absolutely swear the only way to have it is to make it yourself. I, personally, am not fond of beer. If I am going to go alcoholic, it will be wine, please. Len is indeed a very lucky man to have a Laurie in his life who allows the garage to become a distillery.

    • BarbaraLen certainly does enjoy his own beer. Some people have their own labels printed; his preference is label-free bottles (makes reusing them very easy), but his beer caps have a “B” on the top.

  4. This is funny! Himself and Herself. Tell Len we love this! I’m not sure if I read carefully enough…do you like beer, Laurie? If so, what kind? Stout, ale, lager, pilsner…?

    • Kathy – I can enjoy the taste of an ICE cold beer on a really hot day, but it has to be ICE cold. If I’m going to have a beer, it’ll be an ICE cold Corona with a slice of lime.

  5. By Ned, who doesn’t love a man that knows his way around a kitchen, even if that kitchen is in the garage? I did notice that the floor is remarkably clean and all tools are in their rightful place. Beautiful. And the smile on Himself…you couldn’t buy a smile like that, comes straight from the heart!
    By the way I had a hand in pressing the grapes today for Mike’s new batch of wine, using David’s wine press. In return I got to bring home a gallon of juice to make jelly with. It’s a good time to be putting things by for the cold days.

    • Sandi – I saw photographs of the wine press out on Gaia — very cool! My friend, Kevin, in Scotland just made a batch of Elderberry wine and he’s getting ready to make carrot wine (!) for Christmas and Hogmanay. Kim was just telling me yesterday that it’s popular to make dandelion wine in Minnesota.

  6. What’s the alcohol content??

    By the way…What is the correct specific gravity of a good batch of beer??

    We check specific gravity of urine in the lab field…it should be 1.005-1.025. LOL

    BTW the one picture looks like you are in Huntley for the annual Turkey Testicle Festivall. ROFL…..Kim
    Goes well with Lager…

    • Kim – The original gravity of the Scottish Ale is 1.037 and the final gravity is 1.013. The alcohol by volume (as opposed to weight) is about 3.1 percent. I can assure you with certainty that we’ve never been to that particular festival in Huntley — oh dear.

  7. I wish I knew this when I visited Laurie! I Love most Home Brews. Actually I Love most Beer. My girlfriend says I am a beer snob, but I am really just a widely experienced taste tester. I don’t know much about the science of making beer, so this was very cool!

    Next time I come up, I will have hoist an ale with you and Len.

    Once again, Thank you for the education.

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