Friday, March 28, 2008

Homebrewing: Brew Day

>>Part 4: Brewing your first batchWort ready to be measured with the hydrometer

That day has finally come. You're about to get involved in the most rewarding and addicting hobby I have ever participated in. I've said it once and I'll say it again: be sure to take notes throughout your brew day! This will be very helpful for future batches. I keep all of my recipes and notes in my computer. It's important not to get stressed, and if you do take Brew Guru Charlie Papazian's advice and "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew"(RDWHAH). Since this your first batch you probably don't have any; your favorite commercial brew will have to do.

Before you start: Sanitizing

  1. Sanitize everything that will touch the beer and is not being boiled (e.g. stock pot lid, 6.5 gallon carboy, funnel, thermometer, hydrometer, lid for stock pot, airlock, and carboy stopper) with Star San (if you use a different non-rinse sanitizer, follow the directions on the packaging), 1 ounce in 5 gallons of water, this water can just be tap water. The best way to do this is to make the batch of sanitizer in your bottling bucket and use it as your sanitizing bucket. note: Star San will vigorously foam up when mixed, this is normal. DO NOT rinse the foam off of or out of your equipment! It will NOT hurt your beer or contribute any off-flavors. The phosphoric acid(foam) in the Star San will simply become nutrient for the yeast.

Adding the malts: Steeping

  1. Add 3 gallons of spring water (the other 3 gallons should be in the refrigerator)to your stock pot, place on the stove, and turn the heat to high. Monitor the temperature every few minutes with your thermometer.

  2. Add your 1lb of Munich Malt and .5lb of Cara-pils malt to your nylon grain bag and tie/draw shut.

  3. When the temperature has reached 155*F add the grain bag to the stock pot and turn your stove to "low". Make sure to agitate the grain bag so that all grain is wet and/or immersed.

  4. Steep the grain for 30 minutes at 155*F. You will need to tweak your stove settings to maintain this temperature. If you cannot maintain precisely 155*F don't worry, just make sure the temperature stays between 150*F and 170*F. If it exceeds 170*F, remove from heat.

  5. While the grain is steeping, set your two 3.3lb cans of liquid malt extract in hot water. This will allow the syrup to more easily flow out of the cans.

  6. When the 30 minutes is up, remove the grain bag from the water. Hold it over the pot by the draw-string and let it drain out into the pot. When liquid stops dripping out of the grain bag, discard your grains and wash out the nylon grain bag for use in a future brew. DO NOT squeeze the grain bag as this can extract unwanted tannins, just let is drip.

Adding the hops: Boiling

  1. Switch the stove to high and begin bringing the water to a boil. As the water is heating up, open your two cans of malt extract. Empty the contents into your 3 gallons of spring water, stirring vigorously. You want to get the extract dissolved in the water to avoid scorching it on the bottom of the stock pot. Note: at no point during the boil should you cover the stock pot with its lid.

  2. When the unfermented beer(wort) has come to a boil, add 1 ounce of Hallertau hop pellets (your bittering hop) and set a timer for 60 minutes.

  3. Monitor the wort every few minutes, making sure it does not scorch or boil over. If it begins to foam over, lower the heat.

  4. With 15 minutes left in the boil add 1/2 ounce of Saaz hop pellets (your flavor hop).
  5. With 5 minutes left in the boil add another 1/2 ounce of Saaz hop pellets (your aroma hop).

Removing the heat: Chilling

  1. When the 60 minutes is up, take the stock pot off of the burner and cover with the (sanitized) lid.
  2. Remove the remaining 3 gallons of spring water from the refrigerator. Add this cold water to your stock pot. The amount of water you can add will depend on the size of your stock pot, but do not exceed 5 gallons total. Adding this water back will help cool the wort
  3. Immerse the stock pot in an ice water bath, adding ice as necessary. A sink usually works for this. It is important to cool your sweet wort as fast as possible, as it is very susceptible to infection by bacteria and wild yeast during this phase. For very rapid cooling, consider investing in an immersion cooler (available at homebrew shops listed at the end of the equipment portion).
  4. Periodically use your thermometer to check the temperature of the wort. When it has fallen under 80*F (the time this takes varies wildly depending on the efficiency of your setup) gently pour the cooled wort through your (sanitized)funnel and into your 6.5 gallon sanitized carboy (again, there will probably be some soapy-looking suds on the inside of the carboy, this is normal and will not hurt your beer).

Record keeping and adding the yeast: Measuring and Pitching

  1. Add any remaining spring water to the carboy to reach the 5-gallon mark you made on your carboy during the last homebrewing segment. If you did not make a mark on the carboy previously, add spring water till you have used 5.5 gallons of the 6 gallons total of spring water you purchased. We are doing this step to account for water that has evaporated during the boil.
  2. Sanitize your hand and cover the top of the carboy. Shake the rock the carboy vigorously to mix the water with the wort.
  3. Take a small (~8 ounce) sample of wort from the carboy. There are many ways to do this. The easiest way is to use your auto-siphon. Disassemble the auto-siphon and dip the large tube down in the carboy. Remove the tube from the carboy and pour into a glass. Repeat this 2-3 times and you should have collected enough wort.
  4. Use your hydrometer to take a gravity reading. For this recipe your OG reading should be somewhere between 1.045 and 1.050. The higher the OG, the higher the potential alcohol.
  5. Vigorously shake your White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast vial that has been sitting at room temp for 4-6 hours.
  6. Using your re-sanitized funnel, pour the liquid yeast into the carboy.
  7. Re-sanitize your hand and again cover and shake the 6.5 gallon carboy vigorously. We are trying to get as much oxygen as possible dissolved in the wort. Yeast cells require oxygen for healthy growth. note: this is the ONLY TIME the wort/beer should be so vigorously agitated. After fermentation starts, oxygen becomes very BAD for your beer.
  8. Plug the top of your carboy with your rubber stopper and insert the airlock into it (filled 1/2 way with sanitized water). This allows carbon dioxide gas to exit the carboy (preventing pressure build-up and eliminating potential carboy bombs) while preventing beer-spoiling organisms from entering the fermenting beer.

Turning wort into beer: Fermentation

  1. Store the carboy at 67*F-72*F in a dark place away from sunlight. Fermentation should start in 24 hours. The airlock will begin to bubble and a torrent of swirling activity will be observable through the clear glass of the carboy.
  2. Your beer will ferment for the next 7-10 days, this is called "primary fermentation" or sometimes simply "primary". After this period it will be time to "rack"'; to transfer the beer from the primary 6.5 gallon carboy to the secondary 5 gallon carboy for conditioning. This "secondary fermentation" as it is called, allows the "young" flavors of the brew to mellow out and aids in clarity.
Wasn't so hard was it? Next week I'll discuss the process of racking to your secondary carboy. Ask any questions you may have in the comments and I will answer them promptly.


John Sanchez said...

A question about secondary fermenting. I read to add water (distilled / boiled) to the secondary fermenter to bring the gallons back up to 5. I ended up adding a whole gallon of distilled water. Seemed like alot to me. What did I do?

PremiumBitter said...

It is not necessary to add water to the secondary fermenter. In fact, I would recommend against it. You are simply watering down your beer. You will lose some beer in the transfer from primary to secondary, this is normal.

Only add water to bring the gallons back up to 5 on BREW DAY, in your PRIMARY fermenter.