Part 1: Knowing your Equipment
Part 2: Understanding your Ingredients
>>Part 3: Are you ready for this?
You're getting very close to brewing your own beer.
Hopefully by now you've invested in some equipment and you have your ingredients. It's tempting to just jump right into brewing, but I do not recommend it. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of a brewing session and realizing that you are not prepared (trust me, I've done it far to many times, sometimes I still do).
The day before you brew:
- Go back to the equipment article, do you have everything listed there
- Go back to the ingredient article, what about those? Do you have it all?
- What about your grain, did you have your local homebrew shop/website crack it for you?
- And your yeast is in the fridge? If you are using the Wyeast strain of yeast described in the previous homebrewing section, go a head and smack it now (per instructions on the back of the foil pouch). Over the next 24hours the yeast will grow inside the foil pouch, causing it to swell. If you are using the White Labs (preferred) option, see below.
- What about the six gallons of spring water? You don't have that do you? You're going to need it.
- Get two bags of ICE and put them in the freezer for brew day. I recommend buying ice from the gas station/grocery store as it's the most convenient way to get a large amount.
- Make sure you have some sort of timer, you will need it.
- Tool check: do you have your thermometer? Hydrometer? Funnel? Some sort of long spoon to stir your stockpot with? If your liquid malt extract is in a can, you will also need a can opener of some sort.
- Helpful tip: note that the recipe calls for 1/2 oz additions of Saaz hops. You will probably get your hop pellets in one ounce increments. You can either eye-ball the pellets and split the 1 oz into two partitions or you may want to invest in a small electronic cooking scale (~$30).
- Document, document, document! Be sure to take notes on everything you do throughout your brewday. This will be helpful for future brew days.
- Do you have your non-rinse sanitizer?
- Helpful tip: Use an empty one-gallon jug or other container to fill your 6.5 gallon carboy with exactly 5 gallons of water. Use a permanent marker and make a line around the carboy to indicate the 5 gallon mark. This will be very useful later on, as you will know EXACTLY how much water to add back into your beer.
6-8 hours before you start brewing:
- Take 3 gallons of your spring water and put it in the refrigerator.
- If you are using the White Labs (vial) yeast option, take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up at room temperature. This will begin to get the yeast active, and ready to ferment your beer.
- Re-read all previous articles and make sure you have a good understanding of your equipment and ingredients. Read the brewday article (coming next week) through multiple times before you actually start brewing.
- Read the directions on your sanitizer, make sure you understand how to use it. If you are using StanSan (this is what I use) it is 1 ounce of sanitizer per 5 gallons of water. StanSan is non-rinse, it is perfectly normal and healthy to leave a foam behind in your carboy, this will NOT hurt the beer at all.
Less than an hour before brewing:
- Mix your sanitizer in the 6.5 gallon carboy.
- Make sure you have set aside at least 5 hours of your time. :)
Next week: Brew Day