Monday, February 27, 2012

Beer Brewing First Attempt

I normally brew wine, but everyone loves beer...including me.  

I have been desperately wanting to brew some of my own for a while and finally managed to score a large enough pot.  From brewing wine I have almost all of the equipment needed to make beer, aside from a big pot to boil the wort in and a few minor things.  You need to get a big stainless steel pot, mine is 20 quarts (5 gallons) and is considered small by the local home brewers in town, but will work fine.  These pots are a bit expensive and sometimes tough to find.  I found some online, however I found one on sale for a quarter of the price at a local shop. Just lucky I think.

For this batch, I am using a liquid malt extract (LME) kit.  I have most of the materials to do this from scrach except some hops, but since it is my first time I decided to try a kit out.  This is a Porter with some mild spices like coffee and chocolate.

This kit had 2 LME canisters, grains, flavoring spices, grain steeping bag, 3 bags of hops, yeast, priming sugars, and about 60 bottle caps.

So I had to have: a big pot, a big spoon for stirring, a thermometer ( I used a metal meat thermometer, looks like a big nail with a gauge at the head),
a heat source ( yes, it is possible to do it on a crappy stove like mine, but a big propane burner is often used by home brewers, the kind used for turkey deepfrying. there are other options like pots with electric elements in them),
something to cool the wort down quickly ( I used my sink with ice and water, a wort chiller is much better at doing this ), and a primary fermenter with an air lock.

Making the wort is mostly adjusting heat and stirring until your arm falls off.  First, you heat some water until it is between 155-165 F and you steep the grains and spices for 20-25min.  Then you take them out and bring the pot to a boil and add the LME to the water and boil for 20-30 min. Then you add the hops at 3 different stages.  This recipe had the first hops boil for 30 mins, second bag of hops for 25, then the last hops for 5.

At that point I had to rapidly cool the pot down to 70 F without adding anything to the liquid.  So I filled up a sink with ice, salt, and some water and put the pot in there.  I noticed this wasn't working as well as I hoped and started to fill my other sink with cold water and ice.  I switched the pot back and forth between the sink tubs and stirred the brew every once and a while to have it come in contact with the cool sides of the pot. 

Once this was finished, I poured it into the primary bucket and added some water.  MAKE SURE you test the specific gravity before you add the water and WHILE you add the water too.  This kit is supposed to yeild about 5 gallons, but my brew was just about to fall outside of the right SG range at a bit over 4 gallons.  So, if I were to keep adding another gallon, I would have ruined the flavor of the beer and possibly greatly reduced the alcohol content or worse.

I estimate this batch will yield 43 bottles if my terrible math skills are somewhat accurate.

The beer has been sitting in my primary for 6 days.  I have to decide whether or not to use a 2 stage fermentation where I would place the beer in a glass carboy (like a wine's secondary fermentation) to clear up.  I have been reading that this step is not really necessary if you use quality yeasts.  I think I am going to do it to clear it up a little.


  1. I'd love to brew my own beer. Hope it tastes nice!

  2. Hope it goes well, I think you're off to a good start?

  3. Brewing beer is almost like magic. I've had some home brewed mead before, it's delicious.