Homebrewing

Bottling Day: I’m a Cool Parent.

It has been two weeks and is now time to bottle my IPA. After reading all the horror stories about bottling, I figured that I should invest in a mini auto-siphon and a bottle wand instead of using a racking cane and hose clamp. Small batch brewing makes bottling a breeze too. 7-10 12oz bottles takes no time at all. And all the time spent sterilizing and cleaning is made fun by having my brother in law and a six pack with me.

BottlingDay

Beer transferred to my bottling pot filled with honey.

We dissolved 3 tbsp of honey in 1/2 cup of water and transferred the beer to the pot. The siphon and wand made it smooth and bubble free – no splashing! From the pot we got 7 bottles of beer. We tasted some of the beer left in the pot and it was not bad! Warm and flat but no obvious flaws – which I have been worrying about because of the high fermentation temperatures. The beer was fermenting in the carboy in the pot – so if it blew off it wouldn’t make a mess. The metal was cold and I think this helped keep the temperature of the beer lower than the temperature in the room.

My wife and I stopped by Applebee’s to pick up a party platter of wings for our party. My wife was in the passenger seat holding my carboy of beer. The girl who came out to the car saw it and asked what it was. I explained today is bottling day and this was our homebrew. After a few questions, she told us that homebrewing seemed like something single people would do, but we were married and the car seat in the back meant we had a kid. “You’re cool parents” she told us. Glad other people know it. Now to make sure my son never forgets it!

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IPA

Everyday IPA (Brooklyn Brew Shop): My First Homebrew

Finally brewing my first all grain beer!

I bought my supplies from my local homebrew stores – Victors Grape Arbor and Southwest Grape and Grain and ordered my first all grain kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. The kit came with all the grains mixed and ground, a packet of dry yeast, a packet of columbus hops and a packet of cascade hops. If you are interested in the recipe – or more small batch recipes, check out the book they sell.

kit

Everyday IPA Kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop

The hops had an amazing citrus aroma. I divided the cascade hops in to five batches that were added every 10-15 minutes.

hops

Pellet Hops

To start, I followed the instructions on the website. Heated 2 quarts of water to 160 and mashed at about 145. It seemed a bit thick. I think next time I will mash at 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain (I think this was 1:1).

mashing

Checking the mash temperature.

After the hour, I poured the wort through a strainer and sparged with 4 quarts of 170 water.

sparging

Sparging. Using a strainer.

All the columbus hops hops went in at boil – and the aroma was carried away with the steam. The cascade went in at 5, 15, 30, 45 and 0. It looked and smelled like beer!

wort

My sweet, sweet wort!

I had a 10lb bag of ice in the sink to cool the wort. Took about 15 minutes to get it just under 70. I pitched the yeast and since my boil off was more than I expected, I didn’t use a blow off tube but just used the three piece airlock.

fermenting

Fermenting the first gallon.

Fermentation took off that night – only a few hours later. It has been in my closet for 2 weeks and I am bottling this weekend.

I will do a few things different – even if it comes out good.

  1. Use more water to grain in the mash.
  2. Rehydrate the yeast – not a starter but in warm water like I do with bread baking.
  3. Maintain a lower and more even fermentation temperature.

Right now, I am assuming my mashing is fairly inefficient and I am not taking OG readings or PH. I am just practicing making beer – getting the techniques down and my workflow. As I progress, I will start worrying about hitting a target gravity and the PH of my water. For now, lets just have fun and brew!

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Thoughts

One Gallon Homebrewing

I have been bitten by the homebrew bug. When something interests me, I read and obsess over it for a long time. ¬†Sometimes this leads to me doing it, but more often than not I move on to something else. This was almost the case with homebrewing. The 5 gallon brewing setups were a turnoff for all the reasons usually mentioned – I live in a small apartment, I wanted to use the stove, I didn’t want to invest in a lot of equipment, I have pots for 2 gallons at most…. Then I stumbled on BIAB (Brew in a bag) and eventually the Brooklyn Brew Shop 1 Gallon Kits. This is what needed.

I don’t want to rehash the arguments you see online about brewing 1 gallon v. 5 gallons, but I will say that my reasoning was primarily because I wanted to learn to brew, not to make large amounts of beer. I can buy beer from brewers far better than I could dream to be, in every imaginable style. I want to know how grains, hops and yeast can change the taste of my beer. I wanted to expand my beer horizons and stop drinking the same thing – Russian Imperial Stouts – over and over. Brewing will help further my knowledge and appreciation of beer. And I might get some good beers from it.

I want to be proficient. I want to brew a good batch and know that ¬†I can do it again, consistently. Online, one argument against small batches goes: “If I brew a good batch of beer, I don’t want just 10 bottles.” But the response is that you should be able to do it again, all the time. I don’t want my brewing to be luck. This is not a craphsoot but a skill.

I love to cook. I love being in the kitchen with music playing. Brewing is an extensions of that. If you want to brew, small batch brewing is for you. If you want to drink lots of beer – go to the store. It’s cheaper and you don’t have to wait 4 weeks. When I understand the techniques of brewing, the ingredients, and can consistently make a good beer, I may step up to 5 gallons or more. Brewing big batches looks fun. I’ll admit that I have already looked at 10 gallon 3-tier brewing systems. But brewing bigger batches should be an extension of wanting to brew not just wanting lots of beer.

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