Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brewing : My First Beer!!

Last Saturday (4/21) I brewed my very first beer with Lee Rogan (@L_Row). We made a American Farm House Ale style beer. I am super excited to find out how it will taste.

Lee and I started with this American Ale kit and modified it a bit with a French Saison yeast.

First Step is to fill our pot with 3 gallons of water, add our specialty grains, and steeped it until it reached 170 degrees.

We used local spring water and the grains that were provided in the kit were placed in a mesh sock before going into the pot.

Lee said that the color we were seeing then would be very similar to the color our beer will end up looking like. Initially it looked like a very pale ale but slowly worked its way to a "goldish" color.

(Bravo Lee for having a metal stirrer.)

After the pot reached 170 degrees (~30mins) we removed the grains and added in 7 lbs of liquid malt extract. Lee stirred the pot as I added the malt. We then cranked up the heat to a boil and added the first set of hops; 1oz of Magnum hops. These hops were also placed in a mesh sock prior to going into the pot.

Shortly after we added a few drops of a foam controlling solution. I believe it was just two drops.

The first group of hops that went in were our bittering hops. Yes... it is the hops that is responsible for the bitterness. Later we will add the flavor hops and aroma hops.

These bittering hops will stay in for 60mins to release the hop oils. I have to admit that I was shocked to learn that the bitter hops stayed in the longest. I assumed it would be the flavor hops... I was wrong :)

The total time boiling will be based on the bitter hops; this recipe called for 60mins. Since the flavor hops only needs 10mins of boiling time, then we added it 50mins after we added the bitter hops. Pretty simple. The aroma hops were added with just 2mins remaining of the boil.

This whole timing thing with the hops is very interesting, because I am learning there are so many ways to make a beer your own. Extending or shortening the times of the hops is a easy way.

Oh, almost forgot, we added a pill (whirlfloc tablet) that helps settle the beer when there was ~5mins left of the boil.

Once the boiling timer is down we shut off the gas.

Cleanliness is always important, especially when making beer, but it is super important after the boiling process is done.

Lee carefully moved the pot from the burner to the sink.

The next step is to cool the beer down to 70 degrees. We did so by putting the pot into a sink with cold water and ice.

We also carefully removed the mesh socks with the hops at this time.

This did take a little bit of time... but I brought an assortment of tasting beers to pass the time. Lee also had a few beers to share.

Not to veer too far off... I have to say that expanding my beer pallet is f#&king awesome!!

Once it reaches 70 degrees it's cool enough to prep for fermentation. What that means is that we transfer the beer to our fermenting container.

After pouring the beer into the container we shook it up to add more oxygen. We also take this time to measure the sugars for yeast; this is called measuring the original gravity.

Now I know I have been referring to our creation as "beer" this whole time but the truth is that it isn't beer. Actually what we have created is called "wort". It is not until you add yeast that it becomes "beer". So now we add our yeast to make our beer.

What's the best thing to do once you add yeast to make beer? We corked it with a rubber bung and made it do another happy dance!! That's right... we shook it up again.

Lee said the more oxygen the better... so we took turns to shake it up.

When all the shaking was done we placed the air lock into the bung and carried it to the basement. The air lock will allow the gases that will be released by the yeast during fermentation to escape without allowing any air to enter.

Here our new creation will stay for two weeks to ferment. After that we will bottle our awesome new beer... add carbonation... and wait another two weeks before we can enjoy the new brew.