Last call for liberty..
Well here it is, a halfway competent beer brew! This will be my
11th batch, and one of my favorite kinds of beer, India Pale Ale (IPA)
which has tons of hoppy flavor and aroma..
Here are all the ingredients. First, a tub
containing 6 lbs. of light liquid malt extract (LME), a bag of amber
dry malt extract (DME) and a pound of crystal-40 grain. I don't
have a grinder so I had the grain ground at the brew shop.
Next in line are the hops. I will use 1 oz. of Warrior pelletized
hops at the beginning of the boil (for bittering), 0.5 oz. of Chinook
hops at 40 minutes boil (for hoppy flavor) and 1.5 oz. of Chinook hops
at 57 minutes boil time (for a pungent hoppy aroma). All of this
is about 25 bucks worth of
ingredients.. For 5 gallons of primo-beer.. hmmm!
I let the yeast sit in 4oz. of water at 90~94F to sort of wake up
before I pitch it into the
While the water warms up I add a teaspoon of food-grade gypsum to
harden it. I watch the thermometer for when it goes over 105F.
Once the water gets just over 105F, I cut the fire almost off so the
water will remain about the same temperature. Then I take the
grain and put it into a nylon mesh bag and steep it like a giant tea
bag. I keep the water at 105F for about 20 minutes to promote a
sort of enzyme action that begins to convert the starch in the grain to
sugars. After the 20 minutes is up, I slowly raise the
temperature to 155F and let it sit there for 40 minutes. This is
where you can manipulate the character of your beer -- different
temperatures promote different enzyme reactions. Higher
temperature around 160F leads to fuller-bodied (but less alcoholic)
beer whereas steeping your grain at only 140F or so will give you a
cleaner, crisper beer with higher alcohol content. This step is
not crucial in this particular batch since the majority of my sugars
are coming from extracts and not this bag of grain, but I eventually
would like to build an all-grain beer rig and gain more control over
the final product. For now I just take my sweet time getting up
to temperature and end up with an all-round decent beer. And the
smell is awesome. Buhhehhhehheehh!!
This batch is already looking pretty dark for an IPA. Next time I will
use a not-so-roasted
grain and use extra pale DME instead of the amber.
As the wort ("wert") gets close to boiling, I stir in the dry malt
extract. Note that I have left enough headroom in the pot for the
Next up is the syrup-y goodness of the liquid malt extract (LME).
At this point I turn off the fire entirely and stir the malt in,
continuously scraping along the bottom, because the LME tends to drop
straight to the bottom and will burn if not immediately stirred
in. This step drops the overall temperature
considerably, and it takes another 20 minutes or so to get back to
As the wort gets back to boiling temperature, I add the first
(bittering) hops. Here goes the 1 oz. of Warrior hops, which are
good and bitter (~14% Alpha Acid Units) or AAUs.
This is where the whole thing usually foams up and boils over the side
of the pot. This time I only spilled a little bit
of beer (DAMMIT!!) :-) Once the boil has settled into a slow
roll, it's fine for the whole hour of boiling.
I'll spare you the photos of the other hop additions because they look
exactly the same. Suffice to say, I added another 0.5 oz.
of Chinook hops at 40 minutes, along with a teaspoon of irish moss to
make proteins, hop sludge, and any other crap I don't want in the beer
to precipitate out. Then at 57 minutes I add the 1.5 oz. of
Chinook hops. Total boil time is 60 minutes.
Here's a picture of irish moss being added into my 12th
At 60 minutes I cut off the fire and gave the wort a good spinnin' to
make all sediments consolidate into a cone at the center bottom of the
Next I put the lid on so the wort does not get contaminated, then
I place the pot in a sink of cold water. It is important to cool
the wort quickly, both for the quality of the beer and because I
dislike waiting forever for nearly 4 gallons of liquid to cool.
So I use an aquarium powerhead to circulate water around the pot while
trickling cold water
into the sink.
Note how the hot water spills over into the other sink. There I
add sanitizer to keep all my tools and stuff sanitized.
Thermometer, siphon-tube, etc.. and I have dumped the spent grain on
the mulch pile and the mesh bag has been sanitized and is drying nicely
on the rack.
Due to the cold water and aquarium pump circulation, the wort is down
to 110F in only 15~20 minutes. At that point I siphon it into the
fermenting bucket, which I have sanitized. Note the lid of the
bucket were I have plugged in an airlock. The airlock will allow
the CO2 from the fermentation to escape while preventing bacteria from
Update: I have replaced the plastic bucket with a glass carboy for
110F is still too hot to pitch the yeast, but remember my brew-pot was
only four gallons, and the siphoned wort is that minus evaporation
during the boil, minus the precipitated crap I will leave behind in the
boil-pot. So to reach the 5 gallon target, I add cold tap water
to the fermenter bucket, which brings the temperature down to the
low 90s, which is nice and comfy for the yeast. Diluted
beer? Trust me, the final product will still knock you on your
Here's a photo of the yeast preparation for my 12th batch. I put
4 oz. of water into a pyrex glass and microwave it under cling-wrap so
I know it is sterilized. Then I monitor the temperature with the
cooking thermometer, also sterilized (duh).
Once the water is down to about 92F, I dump in the yeast. After a
while the yeast will begin to wake up. Since it does not hurt
anything to let the yeast sit in the water for an hour or so, I usually
do this step early so the yeast is fully activated by the time I put it
in the fermentor.
Ahh, there's my beer, all snug in its fermentation spot. In a few
hours the airlock will start to blow out CO2 like crazy.
After the beer has fermented a few days I will dump in 1 oz. of
fruity-Cascade hops. Adding hops while the beer is fermenting
(instead of boiling) is called "dry hopping" which is supposed to give
a strong hoppy aroma typical of the IPA I am shooting for.
That's pretty much all.. after 3 days of fermentation I cracked the lid
and added the 1 oz. of Cascade hops, and there it sits. After 10
days of fermentation I'll siphon it into one of my kegs, put it into
the cooler and put 20 lbs. of CO2 on it for a week. Then I will
expect it to be fully carbonated.. time to enjoy a shitload of
delicious beer! The color will probably be off due to the
over-roasted grain, but oh well, I bet SOMEONE around here will lap it
Mmm Mmmmm! Hook me up!!!
UPDATE: I put together this transfer system by which I "rack" beer from
one container to another (such as from primary to secondary fermentor)
using CO2 pressure to drive it.
Obviously I got rid of the plastic fermentor bucket. The primary and
secondary fermentors with CO2 transfer is the way to go. After 4 or 5
days there is already plenty of sediment to leave behind.
I hope you enjoyed looking at my brew process. This method works great for me.
Personally, brewing beer is the best way I've found to spin lead into gold.