The Beer Saga [Chapter 2: The Brewing & Fermentation Process]
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Check out the first post in the Beer Saga – Chapter 1: Supplies.
This post is about 15 hours late, but better late then never, right? Travis just got this finished tonight at 10:30pm – He’s been super busy lately, but he was dedicated to it, and got it done. :) So, here it is all typed out by Travis himself.
Here are a few pictures from my brewing process. Each ingredients kit will usually come with its own instructions, and they should be followed, so I won’t go into detail on how to actually brew your beer. Plus, there is too many opinions out there, regarding the brewing process. Don’t experiment your first time, rather follow the instructions religiously. When you start learning more about brewing, then you can deviate from the instructions. You’ll eventually get to the point where the provided instructions are worthless. If you decide to continue even further, you’ll be able to purchase your ingredients separately and not in a kit.
Again I’m not going to go into huge detail however to start off you must use a gallon or two of whater (whichever your ingredients kit calls for) and pour it into your stock pot. I would suggest boiling this water for at least 15 minutes to remove any added chemicals such as chlorine.
Next you will have to bring your water down to proper temperature. Usually this is around 155 degrees Fahrenheit. When you reach this temperature you place your grains into a steeping bag (these are usually included in the ingredients kit) and start steeping it in the water. This is the only part I hate about brewing beer. You will have to steep this bag for around 30 minutes. It will create a sort of “beer tea.” The picture below shows the steeping process.
When you are done steeping you can discard the grains including the steeping bag. Now you must bring the water to a full boil. When it reaches a full boil take it of of the stove burner and mix in your malt extract. Taking it off the burning is a very good tip. If this is not done you could experience a boil over. A boil over with malt results in a very bad afternoon of brewing. It will get everywhere, burn onto the stove (which is near impossible to get off) and create a tar like sticky mess. I know all of this from experience. As soon as you stir in the malt extract place it back onto the stove and bring it to a full vigorous boil once more. When it is boiling add your bittering hops in a steeping bag (be sure to leave room for expansion when you tie the bag shut. Hop pellets expand greatly.) Also be sure to take a huge wiff of the hops before placing them into the steeping bag. This is probably one of my most favorite smells and it is unforgettable. Usually at this time you will boil the malt and hops for 60 minutes but again refer to your provided instructions.
I will stress again, read your instructions. Usually the last 5 – 15 minutes of your 60 minute boil will require adding the additional hops such as finishing hops, spicing hops, etc. When your 60 minutes is up take your stock pot off of the burner and remove your hops. This is the part that usually takes quite some time. You will need to place your stock pot in a bucket / sink of ice water too cool down your wort. You want to bring this down to at least under 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I try to shoot for 80 degrees Fahrenheit but you don’t want to take to much time. Give yourself around 2 hours of cooling time but no longer as you don’t want your wort in the open for too long due to bacteria. You must realize at this point that your wort is completely sanitized and you must keep it that way.
When it is cooled transfer it to your fermentation bucket. At this point you will usually top off your brew to 5 gallons. Now this all depends again on the type of beer you are brewing so please refer to your brewing instructions. Some instructions will require you to add more water during the boiling process. After it is topped off you can add the yeast as long as it is below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the yeast you are using there may be prep involved. Most yeasts will have instructions provided with them. Also some beer / yeast combinations require the beer to be aerated before the yeast is added. This is done by putting the lid on the bucket and slowly sloshing it toward you. I usually do this by sitting indian style on the ground and pulling the bucket toward me multiple times. Only aerate if your instructions call for it and be sure not to aerate too vigorously. You do not want bubbles or foam on top. Finally you can add your yeast, put the lid on your bucket, place it in a dark area (or cover it with a towel) as well as set up your airlock. Its time for the cleanup and waiting process.
For reference here is a great link to a simple set of instructions for brewing. Also if you need any help or have any questions this forum is a very good place to start off. Amateur brewers are not only welcome but so are experts. The experience level of brewing on this forum is quite high.
Also the Wiki page is an awesome resource of never ending brewing knowledge.
Here is my fermentor. It allows the beer to sit over time while keeping it oxygen free. This is the process that turns your beer into alcoholic beer. The fermentation process usually requires the room temperature to be below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it needs to be kept out of any direct light as this can ruin your brew. If you cannot place it in a dark room do like I do and wrap a towel around the bucket, including the top. I would also suggest setting the bucket on a towel, in case of a blowout. A blowout is when your airlock clogs and pressure builds in the bucket. When the pressure is great enough it blows the lid off the bucket, which can result in a huge mess. I speak from experience. This is why I do not use the traditional airlock and I have created my own.
1. This is my gum rubber bung. I adapted the vinyl tubing to it using a piece of plastic tubing, that was cut from my bottle filler. This creates a tight seal, which is necessary to keep the oxygen out.
2. This is a fermenting bucket. It is where your beer will be fermenting for the next 2-4 weeks depending on the type of brew.
3. This is roughly a half gallon of sanitizing solution, made from using water and starsan. The tube must be inserted all the way to the bottom, which keeps air from traveling back up the line.
4. I dual purpose this vinyl tubing. I also use it to bottle.
If you guys have any questions for Travis, just leave them below. This is the first full post he has done on his own, so some encouragement and comments would be great too! :) Yay for significant others getting involved with our blogs.