Monday, March 17, 2008

A beer journey: from start to finish: Part 1

This post has been almost 2 months in the making. It is a journey from water to beer. I brewed a pilsner and tried to document each step. In this case, I brewed an extract kit from Midwest Supply. This was the easiest and cheapest way to obtain a large amount of Saaz hops.

It all starts by pouring a beer to enjoy during the brewing process. I chose my metathesis pale ale. mmmmmmmmmmmm
Then the raw ingredients are assembled: 6 lbs of plain extra light DME, specialty grains, 5 ounces of Saaz hops, Wyeast Urquell lager yeast #2001, priming sugar, and Irish mossThe grains are first steeped at 155°F for 30 minutes.The grain bag is removed after 30 minutes and the volume is increased to 2.5 gallons. The DME is added. This is now called "wort."
The volume is brought to 3 gallons and it is brought to a boil.
Once the wort is boiling, 3 ounces of bittering hops are added (3 ounces is a lot, but fitting for this style. The Saaz hops are very low in alpha acids).
After adding the hops, a green scum forms on the surface.
This breaks up after a few minutes of boiling. This is boiled for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, another ounce of hops is added and the irish moss (used to clarify the beer) is added.
This is boiled for 15 more minutes. During which the equipment is sanitized. The carboy gets a soak with one-step sanitizer.
The wort chiller gets a good boil. This could also be done in the boiling wort.
Another ounce of Saaz hops is added for the last 2 minutes. After 60 total minutes of boiling the wort is chilled using the wort chiller. This takes about 20 minutes.
After the wort is down to 80°F, it is filtered and poured into the carboy. I line a sanitized funnel with a sanitized muslin bag.
I was going to use a liquid yeast from Wyeast. However, something happened. I made a starter and it failed to start. I suspect my fridge was too cold and it froze. This could have been a disaster. However, I always have on hand, emergency dry yeast. I took out a lager yeast from the freezer and hydrated it.
The carboy is topped to 5 gallons. I have a thermometer on the carboy and the top of the strip is the 5 gallon mark. The yeast is pitched into the carboy. Notice the beer in the beaker to the left.
Then the clean up begins. The spent grains and hops are collected. I throw them into my compost heap.
The carboy is placed in the kitchen until fermentation begins. I cover it to avoid the sunlight. Sunlight is bad for beer.
After the fermentation started I put the carboy in the garage. It fermented at tempertures between 30-40°F.

Fermentation continued in the garage for a few weeks. be continued...


Bryan said...

A brewing blog! Cool! I brewed sweet stout last week but for some reason the yeast stopped working.

synthetic environment said...

Awesome post! Can't wait for the sequel!

mjenks said...

We have the same countertops.

Chemgeek said...


Ψ*Ψ said...

Nice post! Almost makes me want to try brewing. Of course, there isn't space in the house, and the man in my life isn't a beer drinker...

Roger said...

This all seemed very familiar. Thanks for posting the pictures; reminds me of my own brewing - it encourages me that I'm not that far off. Of course, now I want to go brew. I think I'll make a Belgian strong ale.

Lab Cat said...

Great post. I'll be using this in class.