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 beer.

adding gypsum
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.

adding DME
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 liquid extract..

adding LME
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 boiling temperature.

adding hops
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.
adding irish moss
Here's a picture of irish moss being added into my 12th batch.   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 pot.

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 getting in. 
Update: I have replaced the plastic bucket with a glass carboy for fermentation.

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 ass.

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).

yeast wakeup
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 up..

Mr. Twiggy
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.
Beer Transfer System
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.

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