- Back to Part I: Beer Making – The Learning-ing
- Back to Part II: Beer Making – Stuff Acquired, Recipe Planned
- Back to Part III: Beer Making – The Plan
You’re probably wondering how my weekend making beer went.
Well that’s a good sign.
First step: start the yeast by giving the packet a good smack.
With that out of way, next comes cleaning and sanitizing.
Next I carefully measured out and bagged my steeping grains: flaked barley for body and flavour, roasted barley for colour, and crystal malts for sweetness. I gave them a good smacking with a frying pan to expose their precious sugars for the wort. I hope I smacked them sufficiently.
Measured out the hops; I realized that the recipes I used were based on whole hops, not pellets; a quick Google search on the subject returned suggestions to reduce the weight by about 10% when using pellets, so I did.
While bringing the water up to steeping temperature, I quickly realized that the floating thermometer I bought had way too limited a range to be useful to me. Instead I got out our electronic one and soon discovered what the metal clip on it is for (hint: it’s not for attaching it to your belt).
The little useless one is going back to the store, I think.
Checking on the yeast, it looks like it has started well, the little yeast cells awakening from their slumber, feasting on the nutrients in the packet and exhaling CO2.
I learned a lot about my stovetop in the process of getting the right temperatures: at least 7 on the big burner is what I needed to get it to 160F, and then turn it down to 4 on the small burner to hold it at that temp once the grains were in.
I “teabagged” (yeah, yeah) the bags about every 5 minutes to ensure good soaking of all the grains.
After 30 minutes, I removed and drained the grains, added the dry malt extract, and brought the heat up to maximum for boiling.
Looking malty, that’s good so far.
Yeah, I think the yeast is good.
I was waiting for a “hot break” but never really saw one specifically occur (which I think it normal for extract brewing?). When the foam had mostly subsided, I put in the Nugget hops, and then the Fuggles 30 minutes later.
While waiting for the hops to boil, I snacked on some longans and read some Internets.
After the hops finished boiling (one hour total), it was time to add the liquid extract.
Wow this stuff is sticky.
After the last boil to pasteurize the liquid extract, I put the pot in an ice bath in the sink. The goal was to get the temperature down to 70F in 30 minutes. I achieved 84F in that time; in the future I need more ice. But I think it will be ok.
While it was cooling, I was adding spring water to the bucket, sloshing it around to aerate it, and then added it to the carboy. Following that, I poured the wort back and forth between the bucket and pot to aerate it as well. I’m not 100% sure I aerated it sufficiently, to be honest, but again, I think I’ll be ok.
At this point I hit a bit of a problem: my “wine thief” did not fit into the neck of the carboy! This means I was unable to obtain my starting gravity, which means I’m flying a bit blind when it comes time to figure out the alcohol content. I think I did my math and measurements well, though, so I think my SG would have been close to what I estimated (1.044).
I rolled the carboy a bit to distribute the yeast, then put in the stopper and the airlock. On the advice of How to Brew, I filled the airlock with sanitizer solution, so that if anything backwashes it should not contaminate the batch.
I moved the carboy to a corner, covered it to keep out sunlight, and left it overnight. When I checked on it the next day, well, that’s when I took the photo at the top of this post.
So while I won’t know for sure if this turned out the way I intended (read: making a drinkable product) for several more weeks – and even though the process didn’t go off without a few hitches – the fact that the colour looks right for an Irish stout and that fermentation is a go are both good signs I’m on the right track.
I will report back after the first racking, hopefully in less than a week!