Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bunker Beer

I have been through hundreds of lists of "preps" that people are putting away for an emergency.  I read these lists to ensure I am not over looking something that is critical, cheaper, innovative, awesome, etc..  Over the past couple of years, I have been diligently socking away the items on my list, much of it for free ( more later on how I do that ).   It came time to take inventory and estimate how long these supplies would last.  I grabbed a notebook, pencil, and a beer.  As I finished up my counts, it occurred to me that one item on the list, alcohol (liquor, wine, and beer) takes up a lot of space, is pretty heavy, and the glass bottles are fragile, not so great if you need to bug out.

I only have about 2 beers a month or less, but if you think for one minute I am going to spend TEOTWAWKI with out a beer, you're nuts.  Alcohol in its many forms can be a great barter item in addition to being a fairly non-perishable caloric and down right entertaining beverage.  I have several bottles of most of the popular brands of liquor and some dry yeast for beer/mead/wine production stored.  High proof alcohol is good for everything from disinfecting cuts to a handy defense weapon, so those bottles stay.  I also planned to learn the art of distilling "shine" and perhaps leave the materials needed to construct a still at my bug out location.  The more I thought about it, the less I liked my prep plan in this area.

I decided to investigate brewing and while it is tempting to buy the typical full grain brew gear and make beers using long term storage grains, that does not address the space or portability concerns.  I needed to identify a simple, lightweight brew kit.  After reviewing everything I could find online, I ordered a Mr. Beer kit.  It turns out to be nearly perfect for prepping.  The wort is made from a small can of extract and 2 gallons of water.  The yeast is stored under the extract can's lid.  The beer is simple to make, uses very little heat energy since all you need to do is bring it to a boil and can be bottled in just about any sealable container.  The kit comes with a rinse free sanitizer, which comes in foil packets.  These packets are amazing and every prepper should buy a case of these for non-brewing use, go bags, etc.

I made my first batch a few weeks back and will be bottling it tomorrow.  Will it suck?  I'll find out in two weeks, and will report back.

On the downside, the extract will only store on the shelf for about 2 years, so the full grain method is better for those who plan to stay put.

Here are the key take aways:

  • Mr Beer is a simple, lightweight, way to store beer supplies to make beer
  • Brewing with extract saves a lot of fuel vs. a full grain batch
  • If you plan only to bug-in, buy the grain buckets and brew your own full grain
  • Regardless of which method you select, buy the no rinse sanitizer from a brewing supply house or the mr beer site.
Now to figure out what to do about higher proof alcohol.

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