More than just reviews…

For those who read the very first post you know that one of the things I wanted to do was discuss brewpub, brewing, and other beer related items.  Well this is officially my first post about brewing.  My friend Dustin came over to help me out with my first ever all-grain batch of beer.  We had a few ideas about what it would be, but we decided on a Chicory Coffee Stout.  Then we decided to do a second batch of beer.  That one was going to be a Smoked Maple Amber which was only a partial mash, not an all-grain mash (mash is what the grain is called for making beer).  A partial mash is a recipe that doesn’t use all grain but instead uses a malt extract (which is an already made malt syrup that is mixed in boiling water to create a wort).

Let’s start with the first batch which was the Chicory Coffee Stout.  After an hour or so of getting all of my equipment rounded up, put together, and sanitized we were almost ready to begin.  First problem we ran into was a slight injury. Warning: if you don’t like blood don’t look at the next picture.

It didn’t hurt.  In fact, I didn’t even see it until I saw a small flap of skin on my finger.  I’m not sure what I did but I knew I had to have it bandaged before we began. Blood + beer = off flavors.

Sorry about the previous picture so for those of you that skipped it due to a dislike of blood here is what the bag of grains looked like.

These are not all of the grains but I assure you they are all in there.  The next step we were ready for was to heat some water.  3 gallons to be exact.  The water is going to be brought to about 150 degrees.  Once that occurs the water is poured into a mash tun where we had already put the grains (sorry for the blurry pic, I was excited).

So that’s what the grain in the mash tun minus the water looks like.  I didn’t take a picture of the water in there because the grains need to steep in the 150 degree water for 45 minutes so I have to seal the mash tun to not let the heat escape.  During this time though we heated up another gallon and a half of water.  This time though to 170 degrees.  This is because we need to add that to the sparge tank to sparge the grains after we drain the wort from the mash tun (sparging is the process of washing the grains after steeping to assure that we get all of the sugars we can).  Before we can sparge though we need to drain the mash tun into the brew kettle.  Just to give you a visual see the picture below of how all of this looks.

The guy in the picture is Dustin.  Everyone say hi to Dustin.  Ok.  This is what you see from top to bottom.  The cooler on the counter is the sparge tank.  That will contain the water for washing the grains.  The cooler on the chair is the mash tun.  That is where the grains will have their sugars pulled from them creating wort.

The metal pot on the floor is the brew kettle.  That is where the wort will be brought to a boil.

Once the sparge tank has been used and there is no more liquid flowing we put the brew kettle back on the stove and began the long process of bringing 4 gallons to a boil.

The above picture is the wort getting ready to boil.  The foam shows it’s almost ready.  Once the wort finally begins to boil, depending on the recipe, the first set of hops will be used.  After that we let the wort boil for 60 minutes.  15 minutes before the end of the boil we added chicory.  Once the boil finished we needed to cool the wort down.  Luckily, I have a wort chiller.  That’s a copper tube in a coil with tubing on the ends.  This part requires a lot of water.  I wanted to know how much water so I put one end of the house into a 55 gallon drum.

It filled all but about 1/4 of that barrel.  I thought it might be worse.  Now I need to figure out a way to recycle that water to use only for cooling wort.  It’s a lot to just waste. There must be some use for it while it’s still too cold to water anything outside. Anyways continuing on.  Once the wort hit 70 degrees we put the wort into a bucket with a spout.  We carried that downstairs into my basement where we then let it fill a carboy (a glass or plastic bottle about 5 or 6 gallons).  Once that is filled we poured in the yeast which came in packages just like these. They’re puffy from the carbon dioxide the yeast are making.

And that’s pretty much it.  We sealed the carboy and covered it in a towel.  In case you are wondering there are still more steps involved.  In 2 weeks I will move the beer into a secondary fermenter where I will add cold pressed coffee.  Then it sits for another two weeks before I can bottle it and let it sit for yet another two weeks before I can drink it.  In total both beers should be done in 6 weeks.

The second beer I mentioned so very long ago (remember the smoked maple amber?).  That was the partial mash kit we did.  This was different because after we mashed the grains, we brought the wort to a boil.  As soon as it hit a boil we added a syrup malt extract.  This process killed the boil so we had to wait for the boil to come back before we could add the hops.  This was another 60 minute boil followed by all of the same steps as before.  When it comes to bottling this one I will prime it with brown sugar (priming is adding just a little bit of sugar to allow the yeast to naturally carbonate the beer).  I think this is going to be an awesome beer.  I’ll keep you all posted as to when it is done and how it comes out.

Prost!

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