Homebrewing and the Offseason: A Step-by-Step Analogy

By Jeff Beck on February 21, 2013 at 12:00p
36 Comments

Recently I bottled a home-brewed beer. Let me assure you, there are few things in life that make you feel more a man than literally bringing alcohol to life in your own kitchen. I’ve never tried Alaskan crab fishing or lumberjacking in the Pacific Northwest, but I’d imagine beer brewing ranks close to those on the 2013 Chest Hair MeterTM.

Brew Kit 2013Home-Brewing Silver Bullets

While transporting our beer to bottles I started thinking, "wow this is a lot like the Buckeye football offseason."

Hear me out on this, I'm willing to explain.

In order to understand, we’ll have to go over a few things upfront. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the beer brewing process I’ll topline it for you. Obviously there are a myriad of beer brewing intricacies out there and the specifics of the process differ from brew to brew. However, at a high level, you can boil it down (pun intended) to four key steps:

  1. Brewing 
  2. Cooling and Fermenting
  3. Priming and Bottling
  4. Drinking

Got it? Good. Let’s jump right in to this step-by-step guide to creating a tasty Buckeye brew.

Brewing

First and foremost you’ve got to get some water boiling. You know, really get those water molecules hyped.

The same is happening right around this time during the offseason. Recruiting, and National Signing Day, get the proverbial water boiling in Columbus. The heat rolling off of that top recruiting class is palpable.

Once you get your water to the perfect temperature you’ve got to steep your grains, then add hops and malt.

Grains are the existing players and the hops and malt (the parts that give your mixture that new, unique flavor) are incoming recruits. Look for Urban Meyer to "steep" the existing players during the spring game, giving them as much playing time as possible while peppering in a few new recruits here and there for taste.

Yeasty"The Great Fermenter"

Cooling and Fermenting

At this point, the mixture you’ve got is called “wort”. You’ve got to quickly cool the wort and add yeast. This step is crucial. If your wort is too hot, you’ll kill off the yeast, which is essentially what feeds on the mixture and turns it into alcohol (fermenting). Long story short: DON’T KILL THE YEAST.

After the excitement of National Signing Day and the spring game die down, things start to cool off for Ohio State football as well. But rest assured, the dearth of football news does NOT indicate a lack of activity. In actuality, magical things are happening.

It’s at this point that Urban Meyer unleashes his “yeast”: Mickey Marotti.

Much like the yeast of a brew, Marotti goes to work immediately, eating away at the mixture he’s been given via strenuous workouts, lift sessions and nutrition plans to transform the “wort” into something much more valuable.

During a homebrew, you let the yeast go at it for roughly a month, but Meyer allows his yeast to operate for much longer. Throughout the summer months, Marotti is the “great fermenter".

Priming and Bottling

At this point you’ve got alcohol, but it's still got a few hoops to jump through to become a product fit for imbibing.

Priming sugar is added to the alcohol to act as additional fuel for the yeast and it’s transferred to bottles for approximately 2-3 weeks of aging. During this process the yeast eats away at the priming sugar and creates carbon dioxide (the stuff to thank for freshies that aren’t flat).

Much like the beer, once Marotti is done fermenting, the team is collected and transferred to a different location as well: training camp.

During training camp a number of priming sugars are added including additional coaches, playbooks, position drills and hitting, hitting, hitting.

Add in an additional week of “aging” in the form of game-one practices and the hope is the team has the necessary sophistication and “pop” to satisfy a much larger audience in the next step.

Drinking

Well the time has come. As a homebrewer you’ve put in the work, time and effort to field a solid brew and now you’ve got to invite people over to give it a taste. As an old-fashioned brewer, you haven’t sampled the beer pre-party as you want to experience your creation in tandem with your closest friends.

This is a particularly nerve-racking time. You’ve followed the right steps to a T, but even so, you’re not quite sure what you’ve got.

It looks like beer in the bottles, but until you crack one open and take that first swig, your beer’s “talent” is a mystery.

I think you see where I’m going with this.

I’m sure this cautious optimism is an emotion experienced by each and every college football coach on that first gameday of the season.

They’ve done everything they could, following the offseason recipe developed years ago by their mentors while adding in a few of their own ingredients.

Still, a recipe isn’t enough. Ultimately, all of the pieces have got to come together organically to field a crowd pleaser.

Unfortunately for those coaches, their “crowd” is much larger than the 15 people you invited to your beer unveiling. If something went wrong with their offseason mixture, they’ve got to hear about it via tens of thousands of skunky beer faces.

But that’s not the only route a coach’s brew can take. Sometimes if everything goes just right, the result is a nectar of the gods.

So you see Urban Meyer is really just homebrewing. The unbottling is scheduled for August 31, 2013.

36 Comments

Comments

Hovenaut's picture

By combing two of my favorite things in life, Buckeye football and homebrew, you have made this an efficient and effective read.

I am in awe, I am awed.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

BrewstersMillions's picture

A topic near and dear to my heart! Having made my 8th and 9th batches of homebrew this weekend, I've decided I may never buy beer ever again.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Now I really want to learn how to home brew. Cant wait to see a sneak preview during the Spring Game :)

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

BrewstersMillions's picture

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Joy-Homebrewing-Third/dp/0060531053
All you need to know is right there. And you can help 11W! Really great resource that gives you a great foundation of all you need to know to start the process. 

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Don't buy anything.  Here's the bible online:
http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html
 

Read my entire screen name....

Lincoln's picture

Thanks to both for these links

brandonbauer87's picture

I'm new to the homebrew game.  I like it so far but then again I haven't actually had the courage to try my first batch.

Citrus's picture

Do it my man. The only thing tastier than drinking an ice cold beer as you stir the simmering malt and add hops is drinking a beer that you made while doing it. Once you brew your own stuff, beer just makes sense. You'll be able to taste each ingredient.

brandonbauer87's picture

I should have been more clear. I made my first batch already. I have not however talked myself into drinking it. The first time instructions did not warn me that the malt will make the wort boil over if you dump it in too fast. Point is, my recipe was tainted from that point on dud to half of the wort covering my kitchen stove and floor. 

BrewstersMillions's picture

The amount of beer and\or money wasted is far less valuable than the lesson you learned though. Maybe scrap that first batch but now you know! Its a trial and error process but one worth the trouble.
Of course there really only is one way to know if it turned out bad...

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

brandonbauer87's picture

You better believe I'm going to try it. I didn't spend hours making it just to dump it out. I will definitely make one of my friends try it with me. It's a red ale which I'm not a huge fan of anyway so someone else is taking that ride with me. Next up a whiskey flavor lager. Hopefully with better results. 

Buckeyeneer's picture

I have been on the fence about homebrewing for several years but my hectic work schedule always keeps me from pulling the trigger.
Oh well, Step 4 is my favorite anyway.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

Doc's picture

MMMMMMMMMMM.......Bee..Footba...  Beer&Football.  The way God intended it!  I'm to thirsty to wait months for my beer to be made.  Anyway my wife would kill me if I get any more involved in beer drinking as a hobby.  ;)

"Say my name."

Earle's picture

Nice analogy.  As with all analogies, it breaks down at some point: 
If Mariotti is the yeast, you don't need to worry about killing the yeast.  You cannot kill this yeast, it will fight back.  Mariotti is the Chuck Norris of fermenters.
Cheers.

Italics are for emphasis.

Jeff Beck's picture

Excellent point.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

The comparisons were solid and this was a brilliant piece.  I may have to try my hand at home brewery soon.

Class of 2010.

BUCKtuckian's picture

My haul from a recent trip to Ohio.
Bought the sixer on the left on name alone.
How could I not?
 

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic.
Ron White

Doc's picture

"When you're dry.. Drink Buckeye!"  I've got a twelver at home myself.  Buckeye has an almost buttery taste to it.  I think you'll like it.

"Say my name."

BED's picture

I brought some Buckeye Beer back to NYC when I lived there once.  The homesickness alone made the beer that much better.

It is a good brew though, regardless.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Lincoln's picture

Fathead headhunter.. So good 

Breakawayspeed's picture

Eleven Warriors- a drinking blog with a football problem?

brandonbauer87's picture

We need more beer posts. And more beer. 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

BRRRRAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKKKKKK..... excuse me

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

buckeye76BHop's picture

Congrats Jeff...now it's time my Dad and I show you how to Shine;-)  I like beer but I love Moonshine.  Like Tickle says on the Moonshiners show on Discovery...."If you love you country....then you gotta love Moonshine."  ;-)

Nothing better than what this guy did in his time.  IMO Popcorn Sutton...Moonshine won't die with you brother.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

hodge's picture

My 690 square foot apartment is far too small for homebrewing, but once I move into a new place, it's amongst the top of my list of things to do.  My roommate and I tried to make a hard cider a long time back, but we made the mistake of trying to make a Belgian Abbey Yeast-aided bohemoth that was supposed to clock in at 10-12% ABV...needless to say, the results were horrendous, the primary fermentation was long, violent, and didn't produce anything near drinkable (in retrospect, I probably should have done a secondary fermentation).
Heh, in a lot of ways in was kind of like when the University of Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Your beer lost to Ohio State by a combined score of eleventy gabillion to 21 too?

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

frozen buckeye's picture

Step up to kegging.  You will wonder why you were ever satisfied with the mess, tedium, and wait involved with bottling & corn sugar carbonation. 
 
There's an analogy in there too. 

aboynamedtracy's picture

Now that's something I'll take a stand on...

Doc's picture

Would you have to be proficient in normal brewing and bottling to move to kegging, or is it easier?  How much does it make and do you have to keep it cold when done?  So.  Many.  Questions.

"Say my name."

BrewstersMillions's picture

There are but a good book or site can answer just about all of them. It starts simple really, a few simple contraptions, a can of malt extract and some water, some priming sugar and some bottles. Before you know it you'll be all grain brewing and kegging your own beers.
Like anything, learn the basics of what you are doing. Learn what is actually occurring at each step and you soon realize its really a matter of patience.
If you are going to venture into brewing your own-the one piece of advice any home brewer will tell you can't be sold short-SANITIZE EVERYTHING. If you think something might touch your beer and you aren't sure if it was cleaned, do it again to be safe. Everything else falls into place from there.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Indy_Buck87's picture

I have a 3 Floyd's dreadnaught Imperial Pale ale in primary fermentation at the moment. I enjoy brewing hard to find beers and sharing them with friends and family.  Could not agree more.  Despite what the BW3's commercial depict the results can be fantastic. 

I know of only two things that are infinite, space and human stupidity.....and I'm not sure about space". Albert Einstein.

DefendOhio's picture

Ohio Beer:
1. Great Lakes 
2. Everyone else

aboynamedtracy's picture

I certainly enjoy Great Lakes, but my choice for Ohio's finest is Hoppin Frog Brewery.

Doon12's picture

Clean up! Aisle 5!  Two of the greatest things on the planet...combined?  I had another accident.  Great article.

WashingtonStateBuck's picture

I just finished bottling my two National Homebrewing Competition beers, a Belgian blonde and Belgian dubbel and this post got me thinking about brewing my Scarlet Ale, an Irish Red for this upcoming football season. Great Beer and Buckeye football, there really isn't much better combination. 

osubuckeye4life's picture

Who knew the man could do things other than play a mean guitar. 
 
Bravo Mr. Beck!