Saturday, July 2, 2011

The idiot's guide to making beer

The condensed version.
If you can make a cup of tea, you can make beer. Simple as that.
Extract brewing:
1. Boil water
2. Add specialty grains in grain bag (big ass tea bag), steep for recommended time.
3. Remove specialty grains, add LME/DME (liquid malt extract/dry malt extract).
4. Bring to boil, start your hop schedule.
5. Remove from heat, cool to approximately 90ºF.
6. Take the original gravity reading, record it.
7. Pitch yeast, stir, transfer Wort from brewpot to Primary Fermentor.
8. Wait.
9. Transfer to secondary fermenter add hops for dry hop or bottle/keg.
10. Drink and profit.

Now, some terms and concepts.
•The grain water prehops is called sweet wort (pronounced wert) due to the sugars from the malted grains. The wort post hops is called hopped wort. LME/DME can be used to speed to brewing process. While all grain brewing gives the brewer more control over the whole process, when making a simple brew malt extracts are just fine. There have been many a competition winner made using the extract method.
•A hop schedule is just what it sounds like, a schedule for your hop addition. Normally read in reverse the hop schedule should consist of a bittering hop and a finishing hop, though some recipes have been done with a single hop addition. ex. of a schedule.
1.00 oz. Chinook Pellet 13.00 52.5 60 min.
1.50 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 9.3 15 min.
1.50 oz. Willamette Pellet 5.00 6.1 10 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 3.9 5 min.
1.00 oz. Willamette Pellet 5.00 0.0 0 min.
2.00 oz. Cascade Pellet 5.75 0.0 Dry Hop
what this mean is the Chinook pellet will go in right as the water boils, start your 60 min countdown, the rest is based on the time left in the boil.

•Now, remember when you said I'd never need chemistry again? Bet you are going to feel as stupid as I did when you realize it has practical and honorable uses. Sg - Fg * 131 = ABV% Your specific gravity reading, minus your finishing gravity reading multiplied by 131 will give you your alcohol by volume rating.
example: SG = 1.062 FG = 1.015
.062 - .015 = .047 * 131 = 6.157% ABV
You get the  SG reading from a hydrometer or a refractometer.

•The reason you need to chill the hopped wort to 90ºF or lower is because when you pitch the yeast you don't want to kill it outright. Brewers yeast comes in two different main forms. Liquid and dry. Liquid yeast is simple, you just pour the liquid in before it goes into the fermentor. Dry yeast needs to be activated before it can be added. Either rehydrating in ~4oz. of warm water for ~15mins. or like Wyeast labs does with an all in one packet that reactivates rehydrated yeast (too long to explain, but it's cool as hell). Rehydrated yeast can also be added to a starter which will speed the process from the start and also help to verify you have a good batch of yeast. This process is much like proofing bakers yeast.

•Secondary fermentation serves multiple purposes. Mainly it removes the beer from the dead and dying yeast cells and sediment that given time to steep into the beer can give off flavors to your beer. By siphoning the beer to a secondary fermentor you are moving the beer to another container giving it more room to settle and allowing you to add a dry hop addition (another post for this later).

•Starting off one should bottle, it's easier and cheaper. Bottles are easy to come by, chances are you are a serious enthusiast and should have a good collection of POP TOP bottles. You can recap pop tops, not screw tops. 5 gallons of beer (average brew amount) will fill about 50 12 oz. bottles. Be sure to clean and sanitize your bottles and tops. 

•Finally, something to remember that every brewer must do at all times; SANITIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT. Cleanliness is next to godliness and we all know beer is God's proof of his love to man (Franklin).  Sanitizers can run up a hefty bill but you can do a world of good with home chemicals, more to follow in another post. 

I hope this condensed (lolerskates) guide will give the hopeful neophyte an understanding of the process. 

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