Brew day in pictures – brewing ‘how to’
Here’s the log of my most recent brew, my first of the autumn, and again it’s kinda my own recipe, for an IPA. I bought the ingredients based on what I’d been reading, and then used an online calculator to just check my thoughts and timings. Click on the image below to see what I’m pretty much aiming for – I’m using the traditional high quality fuggles and golding hops – for hopefully a quality ale. (you can find the calculator here)
So generally this is going to be a STRONG ale – I should think it will reach between 8-9% when done! But that’s still within the range of a good old style IPA, so I’m not worried. Plus it’s for Xmas, and brews need to keep you warm 🙂
So going into my brew was the following;
* three 1.5kG tins of finest pale malt extract (so 4.5kg in total.. hence the strength!)
* 250g of pale malt grains (I wanted to add some fresh malt flavour and depth)
* 250g of crystal malt grains (for a bit of darker colouring and flavour)
* 100g of Kent Golding hops
* 100g of Fuggles
* 5g of irish moss (to help take out some of the protein during the boil)
* few g of yeast nutrition (can’t hurt)
* Nottingham dried yeast (yes I know liquid is prob better, but the beer was already costing me lots!)
* 22 litres of charcoal filtered tap water (just be patient with a normal water filter jug!)
The water I took time filtering and adding to a spare fermentation bucket (which I just use to store water etc now). Once I had about 22 litres (I was only going for a 19 litre final brew size) I added 1/2 a camden tablet and left alone (the Camden tablets are meant to remove all the chlorates I believe).
I cleaned and soaked my fermenter and bits n bobs in cleaner overnight, and gave my boiler a bit of a clean up and quick sanitize.
I then drew up a bit of a simple project plan – well a timeline starting from ‘grain steeping’, through the 90 min boil, the cooling, and into the fermenter. It makes sense to list what you’re going to do, and when – so you don’t mess up the brew with something simple missed (like adding hops at the ‘flavour stage’ – something important I messed up last time).
So I’ve got everything I’m going to use sterilized and clean, and all my ingredients to hand – ready to start!
So first I transfered my brewing liquor (the treated water!) into the boiler (a special bucket with tap and powerful heating element), added the sparging bag (nylon bag which holds the grains away from the heatling element.. like a huge t-bag), and the 250g of each of the two grains.
The grains add both colour and flavour – I went for some pale malt grains to add some fresh malt flavour, and the crystal grains for colour and flavour.
The heater is turned on, and the water heated until it reached 65c – the aim is to try and hold it there.. and left to ‘steep’ for 20 mins or so. Some sugar is extracted from the pale malt grains, but I don’t really need it, as I’m going to get all my sugars from the liquid extract.
Once I’m ready (and the water is already a bit tea like, with a nice fresh malt smell), I take out the sparging bag (with the grains inside), and turn off the heater while I pour in the extract. Oh one tip – put tins of malt extract into a BIG saucepan and heat in hot water – obviously don’t BOIL! Just get em a bit hot on low heat. That way you can easily pour out the malt extract – be careful of any steam/hot malt burning you!
Three tins of malt added and stirred in – I can turn on the heat again (turn it off to make sure you don’t damage the heating element as the thick malt is added). Also I added my first hops – 50g of my Kent Goldings – they come vacuum packed – its amazing how the contents small pack expands with air and a bit of breaking up with your fingers. Make sure you breath in the smell of the hops – it’s the essential oil that comes off them that does all the magic to the beer.
These first batch of hops will be in the wort for the entire boil of 90 minutes, and will add very little flavour or aroma (those oils boil off in that time), but the acid will add bitterness that most beer needs.
Once the wort reaches 100c (it’s pretty obviously, the boil is very vigorous – make sure you leave the lid on the boiler!), I fine tuned the thermostat to keep a ‘rolling boil’ going (i.e. keep it boiling pretty constantly without exploding). While the main boil went on, I used the time to clean up, and clean/rinse all the stuff I’d need next. Also I boiled and cooled water in a sanitized bowl for re-hydrating the yeast. My yeast needed a 30-35c degree water to get it going again – add and cover, and I put in the airing cupboard to keep it warm n dark.
15 mins left in the boil, I immersed my wort chiller (copper tubing coil) into the boiling wort, to sterlize it properly, and added a dessert spoon of irish moss (which helps take the protein out of the wort, which can cause cloudyness).
With about 10 mins left in the boil, I added the bulk of my hops – at this timing I won’t get much bitterness, but I will get a lot of the flavour oils kept in the wort. 50g of the fuggles, and 50g of the goldings added at this point.. that’s a LOT of hops!
1 minute to go, I added aroma hops, about 40g of my fuggles… and once I’d turned the heat off, I added the last 10g of fuggles, just to really try and get some hop aroma into the beer (aroma oils boil off very quickly, so you often need to add very late in the boil, or as it cools.. or even to the fermenter).
As soon as the heat was off, I turn on the tap to pump water around my copper wort chiller – to try and get the wort called as quickly as possible – one reason is to get the wort into the fermenter with yeast added ASAP so that there’s very little chance of infection, and also to get a ‘protein cold break’ – which is all very technical 😉
With the wort chiller, it only takes about 35-40 mins to cool down from boiling point to 25c – left alone I’m sure it would take about 3-4 hours, if not longer.
Once the wort is down to 25c, the tricky bit of opening the tap and draining into my fermenter takes place – I used a sanitized funnel to help! The drop from tap to bottom of fermenter puts a lot of oxygen into the wort (you can tell from all the foam that’s produced!) – which is exactly what you want at this point – you don’t get it if you use tubing/syphoning. So use gravity and care and you can really pump the oxygen into the wort… just be careful of foam overflow!
I also added a teaspoon of yeast nutrient, just to really make sure the yeast has all it needs – food, nutrients, and oxygen – the healther the yeast, the better the brew! The rehydrated yeast is then added – hopefully it’s all at about room temp by this time – about 22c. You don’t want big temp differences, as it can shock the yeast and kill it!
Yeast added, I fitted the top to the fermenter, and added a ‘blow off’ tube instead of a standard bubbler or airlock. I do this because the yeast can really go ‘bang’ in the first 48 hours, and can blow the ‘krausen’ (the foamy yeasty head) through the airlock. By running a wide bore tube from the fermenter top down into a container full of water, you’re creating a ‘big’ homemade airlock, but one where it doesn’t matter if it gets gunked up with yeast foam. I’ll swap to a proper airlock after a couple of days. You want to keep the outside air (and bacteria) out of the fermenter. Although people used to brew open or just with a wet t-towel over it.. so who knows 🙂
It’s 24 hours or so later, and I can watch the fermentation take place (for the first time I’m using a clear fermenter) – It’s quite hypnotic .. all action, you’d be surprised how ‘active’ it gets in there.