Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brew Day!!!!

The New Year's weekend provided too many commitments to allow our first brewing with the new brew kit I got for Christmas.  So, we had to wait a week.  I think it actually turned out for the better, as I could spend a week gathering what I needed nearly all of which I ended up not even needing.  But, better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.  So, off we go.

I brewed a Brown Ale, which is the kit my wife got me along with the brewing kit itself.  It contained all of the above, with the exception of the Widmer Bros. Halo India Pale Ale.  I added that, as I felt some liquid encouragement may be required.  And, I was thirsty.

The kit contained dark liquid malt (in the can up top), dried malt, dextrose and First Gold hops.  I decided to stick to the recipe rather then deviate as I had been contemplating, since more than anything, I just want this first batch to be drinkable.

I set everything out above, along with all of my equipment to make sure everything would go smoothly.  Or, as smoothly as I could.  For anyone that has seen me cook, it's normally an exercise in panic as I inevitably forget to chop, smash, saute' or obtain some key ingredient until the moment it's needed.  I didn't want that here, and it worked out pretty well.

First thing required was boiling a couple gallons of water.  I bought six gallons of bottled water, rather then stand by the filtered water in the fridge for two hours waiting for six gallons to come out.  We're making the nectar of the Gods here, I'll save the planet from plastic bottles next week.  Stay with me.  The little pot to the left is to heat the malt, so it would come out of the can easier.  And, believe me, from what was stuck to the lid, there was no coming out without heating.  It was like caramel.  Except in taste.  Not caramel.  Don't taste.  Trust me.

Then I added the malts (liquid and dry), dextrose and hops.  Looked like split pea soup.

Smelled like pizza dough, so anyone worried it will stink up the house, unless you don't like bread, it won't stink.  Luckily, my pot, which we use to steam tamale's, could easily hold about six or seven gallons of liquid.  I stood by the wort (that's what the brew in the pot is called, look at me, I'm practically an expert with the lingo and all) in case of boil overs.  But, that would have been one hell of a boil over to get out of that pot, so we were safe.  After it stopped foaming, it looked like this.

Boiled that for 30 minutes, then into the sink it went.  No, not that way.  Per Palmer's How to Brew, you should cool the wort as quickly as possible, called the "cold break" in order to keep the beer from clouding.  So, I filled the sink with water and ice and in the pot went.

Yes, yes, yes, I haven't finished tiling the backsplash, so shut it.  I know.  To the left, you can see that I set aside a jar to pitch the yeast.  All of you brewers out there can see the temperature is too low.  I know, I heated the water too soon, so I needed to reheat it to between 95 and 105 F later.  I would like to point out the one purchase I made that I found indispensable for my first time out, and that's an electronic thermometer.  I put it in everything, from the yeast jar to the wort as it was cooling.  I kept a separate jar of sanitizer on the counter and dropped the thermometer into that after each use.  Cleanliness is the name of the day in this process.

So, the wort took about 25 minutes to chill down.  I got it down to about 80 degrees, then I filled the fermenting bucket with three gallons of the bottled drinking water.  We're looking for 5 gallons of beer here.  I figured once I poured the wort in, it would get it down to about 70 from the new water, and I was right.

After preparing the yeast, I poured it into the fermenting bucket, popped on the top and the airlock and then took it to its home for the next two weeks.

Luckily, we have an interior closet that is under the staircase.  It is smack dab in the middle of the house and none of its walls touch the outside of the house.  It is a constant 70-72 degrees, regardless of the time of year.  Now, we wait for two weeks, and then bottle.

I checked on it this morning (I made it yesterday), and the airlock is bubbling away, meaning the yeast are doing their thing.  Hopefully, by Super Bowl Sunday, or read: the Big Game if you're from the National Football League (I have no money, so don't sue me for saying Super Bowl), we'll have two cases of drinkable beer.


  1. I actually enjoy the smell of wort. We just bought the ingredients yesterday to make a batch of our Dog Island Honey Apricot Ale. My husband's convinced I can have it done, bottled, and ready to drink by Jan. 30th for an event we're going to. He always makes me rush stuff like that.

  2. Put something under it; it can froth like an epileptic in a bubble bath after a few days!

  3. Nice lookin' wort! Makes me want to make another batch to replace our lost porter :( You know, it's a rule that you have to drink one of your last batch while you're making your next, so the Widmer was totally excusable ;) You might find, if you do this very often, that one of those copper-coil wort-chillers will help with the cooling step. Makes it go much faster than the ice-in-the-sink method, and helps to eliminate hot spots in the wort that might KO the yeast. Can't wait to hear how your first brew turns out!