Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Started: Brew Day

By now you should have purchased everything that you need and are ready to brew some beer! Make sure before you start that you are going to have enough time (5 hours) and I would recommend that you read everything through once to make sure that you have all the equipment ready to go.

I was once told by a professional brewer on a tour of a brewery that  70% of a brewers time is spent cleaning. I have found that to be a little bit of an over exaggeration. That being said brewing is messy and having clean equipment is very very important. If even 1 bacteria cell gets into your beer and it then multiplies every 30 minutes you can imagine that a week latter you are going to have millions of bacteria in your beer. For that reason it is important to keep your equipment and work area clean.

I will be assuming you are following my wheat beer recipe, if you are not the basics will be the same but the ingredients will be different.
  1. To start off measure 2.5 gallons of water into your 3.5 gallon pot
  2. Bring the water to a boil and added 3.5 pounds of wheat and 3.5 pounds of pale liquid malt extract (add it slowly and stir as you do so. The last thing you want is for it all to fall to the bottom and burn to the bottom of your nice new pot)
  3. Once the solution has returned to a boil add 1 oz of Hallertau (or similar) hops to the beer and set the timer for 60 minutes
  4. Rehydrate the yeast according to the directions on the package
  5. Watch the beer, do not leave the room. It may start to boil over and if you boil over all of your beer you will have a terrible mess. Keep the stove temperature hot enough to boil the beer but not so hot you are going to boil it over.
  6. After an hour has passed you will have wort. At this point it has been sanitized by the boil and is free of any living organism. You just have to make sure it stays that way. Before you can add the yeast you need to cool the beer down. You can place a lid on it and put it in the fridge, place it in a sink full of cold water, or just wait for it to cool down. You need it to be at less than 80 F before you can add the yeast. 
  7. While the beer is cooling you can sanitize for fermentation vessel with whatever sanitizer you choose. If you are using bleach make sure you rinse it 3 times so that you do not get bleach flavored beer.
  8. Pour the cooled beer into the fermentation vessel and bring the volume to 5 gallons with water.
  9. Take and record a hydrometer reading of the beer, if everything went well it should be around 1.050.
  10. Add the yeast to he beer.
  11. Yeast need oxygen to grow, so you will either need to pour the beer back and forth between the boil pot and the fermentation vessel or shake it in the fermentation vessel very well. (Boiling drives off all the oxygen, you need to add it back in after the boil).
  12. Place the lid/stopper on the fermentation vessel and add the air lock filled with Vodka or sanitizer.
  13. Set the beer in a warm room (~65 F) and let it ferment for the next 7 to 10 days.
  14. Within 48 hours you should see the air lock moving to release carbon dioxide being produced by the yeast as they metabolize the sugar present in the wort.
  15. After 7-10 days it should be time to bottle the beer, this means feeding the yeast one last time with sugar and adding the beer to a bottle. The sugar will provide a last meal for the yeast which they will once again turn into carbon dioxide and alcohol. This time the cap on the top of the beer bottle will seal in the carbon dioxide and carbonate your beer.
  16. Take a hydrometer reading of the beer and record it. It should be around 1.015. If it is not stop and check out this link.
  17. To bottle the beer first sanitize your siphon, 50 bottles, and your bottling bucket. Now add the beer to the bottling bucket using your siphon, the goal is to do this slowly without letting too much oxygen have access to the beer. 
  18. Add priming sugar to the bottling bucket and gently stir it, this is for the yeasts last meal. To calculate how much priming sugar to use follow this link.
  19. Now add the beer to the bottle, about a half inch from the top. Place a crown cap on the bottle and crimp it in place with the caper.
  20. Place the closed bottles in a warm place, you need the yeast to stay active to eat their last meal, which might take some time. If you place a bottle in the fridge too soon the yeast will become dormant and will not carbonate your beer.
  21. After a good 2-3 weeks place 1 beer in the fridge, let it cool, and sample it. If it is nice and carbonated you can cool the rest.
  22. Celebrate the awesome accomplishment of brewing your own beer! I would recommend using a kit at least one more time before you start trying to experiment or move on to the next stage, which is using steeping grains.

Getting Ready to Bottle

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