Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
- Purchased Brew Kit
- Purchased 5 gallon stainless steel kettle
- Purchased stirring paddle or spoon
- Purchased Extract Beer Kit
Providing you have these four things you are actually ready to brew your first batch of beer.
I picked up my extract kit from my local homebrew supplier located in Waterford, MI called Hopmans Beer and Wine Supplies. Rick and Johnny run an awesome operation and provide an excellent service to homebrewers alike. The nice part about this shop is that they put their own kits together which helps guarantee the freshness of the products that are being sold to you. The contents of the kit always includes the extract ingredients and in some cases steeping grains, hops, yeast packet - either dry or in liquid form, and instructions for brewing. It is important to follow these directions as they provide the times of extract additions, hops additions and boiling times which are all crucial to the quality of the beer that you are producing.
Looking at the instructions that are given in your kit, it is imperative that we follow these to produce the quality of beer that the kit boast. The first thing that we will notice is the amount of water that is needed to be collected which will range between 5 and 6 gallons. Once water is gathered it is time to start heating, which can be done on a household stove or propane stove. I will be using a propane stove myself. We will be bringing our liquid up to a boil prior to adding any of the extracts. If your kit contains a can or jug of LME, this is a good opportunity to gather a small pot and start warming up the LME to make pouring into the boiling brew pot much easier as LME is simply a very thick syrup. Heating a syrup will make it flow out of the container much easier. It is best to do this on a household stove at a low setting, we do not want to boil the container.
Once the brew kettle is up to a boil we need to remove the heat source by turning off the propane or moving the kettle from one burner to another and add our LME and/or DME to the boiling pot, it is important to stir the mixture at the same time to avoid scorching on the bottle of the brew kettle, remember these are fermentable sugars and sugar and heat will burn, so it is important to stir the mixture together will adding your malt extracts. You will also notice that while adding the extracts the boiling kettle will lower in temperature and stop boiling. Once all of the extracts have been added and stirred in, it is time to turn the heat source back on and bring back up to a boil.
Once the brew kettle is back up to a rolling boil, we will now refer to the instruction again to locate the hop addition schedule. Hops are used to bitter your beer and bring balance to the sugars that you have added. The hop schedule can range from several options depending on the style of brew to adding hops at the start of the boil, middle of the boil or end of the boil or a combination of any of the times. Some beers may even use all three additions and it is also possible with higher bitter beers such as India Pale Ale or IPA's that the addition schedule may even be more intensive.
It is important to pay attention to the brew pot at the times of adding the hops, this additions can cause a rapid boil which may lead to a boil over which can be the most aggravating thing to happen as the mess is horrible to clean up. The key to avoiding this is to keep stirring and even turning the heat down some to slow the boil during the chemical reaction of the hops and the your liquid which is now referred to as wort. Boiling the wort normally takes approximately 60 minutes and once completed it is important to cool the wort down to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the wort is chilled, you can begin the transfer process or better known to racking to the fermentation bucket and then add the yeast that the kit contained. This yeast may be a dry packet or a liquid smack pack that needed to be smacked prior to brewing you beer. If the kit contained a smack pack, you may smack this pack up to 12 hours prior to brewing but it is not necessary. I would suggest however to certainly smack this pack just prior to brewing though. Once the yeast is added, also called pitching the yeast, place the lid on the fermentation bucket and firmly press down around the side ensuring that the lid is tightly sealed on the bucket. Take the air lock that came with the brew kit and fill it with water up to the water line indicator and place in the hole on the top of the fermentation bucket lid. This lid will have a rubber grommet that helps form a air tight seal around the airlock and lid. Place the bucket in a cool setting such a basement, but not directly on the basement floor and allow the beer to ferment between 7 and 14 days.