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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Home Brewing

Tomorrow, I will embark on a new chapter in my life, brewing my own beer.

I got a kit from my parents for Christmas, complete with everything necessary to make my own beer, from the House of Homebrew. They gave me a kit to make an Irish Stout, my favorite style of beer. (Is there a bad kind of beer???)

Basically, what I have to do it boil everything together for an hour, then cool it down. Once at about 80 degrees, I have to put it in the "Ale Pails" that came with the kit, and let it ferment with the yeast for a week. Then, next Sunday, I will siphon the beer from the pails into bottles, and that will then sit and age/bottle-condition for 4 weeks before it is ready to consume. It will make 5 gallons of beer, or roughly 2 cases. The only thing I need yet are some sturdy bottles, since bottle caps and the bottle capper came with the kit.

If anyone out there has any advice or tips, they are most welcome. This is something that I've wanted to try for a long time, and I can't wait to see how the stout turns out!


Scott D. Feldstein said...

I have a friend who's pretty experienced in this. I even have a bottle of mead right now that he made. And if you need someone to test out your brew, give me a jingle!

Scott said...

Awesome. Who's up for a special Drinking Liberally at Ben's?

Kelly said...

I don't know how to make beer Ben but I am experienced at drinking it!!! I will be more then happy to help you drink it when the time comes!! :)

Benny B said...

So far, we have three offers to drink, and none to help! Oh well, the more the merrier to come and drink! :)

WatchdogMilwaukee.com said...

As an experienced homebrewer and a former Sprecher tour guide I've heard a lot of terms for ingredients, but never "Ale Pails". What does this stuff look like?

The process is basically this -- boil your extract (clearly you're not doing whole grain). Save a cup of wort in the refrigerator in a tight container so no impurities can get at it. (Wort is the sweet boiled liquid.)

Add your hops at the end for more aroma, at the beginning to add bitterness. Different hops have different alpha acid (bitterness) units. If you like Sprecher Amber, you're smelling mostly Mt. Hood and Cascade hops (both American). Mt. Hood is basically an Americanized version of Hollertauer (sp?) of which I'm a great fan.

Pour your wort into the carboy and fill up to about the neck (with cold water) leaving about 4-5 inches from the liquid to the top so you minimize the amount of O2 that will affect the beer from this point on. The cold water trick is clearly a shortcut to reducing the size of a kettle you need and cooling the wort fast. If your water has impurities it won't work. Add your airlock now.

Wait for the temp to hit room temperature (a cool basement temp works well for ales) and pitch (add) your yeast. If you really want to do well, start your yeast out the day before with a bit of wort.

I tend to like to fill my carboys fairly high but I use the big blow off tube and bucket technique so even if you're dry hopping as I do, you probably won't have problems.

The yeast will start to work its magic -- outputting CO2 and alcohol. Clearly the CO2 is what the airlock is for...so the CO2 can get out but bacteria cannot get in (be sure to put some water in the airlock).

After about a week, or when the bubbles slow down, I rerack into another carboy to make sure that my beer isn't sitting on a layer of trub for a long time.

When the magical little bubbles cease to rise, add in that cup of wort you had in your refrigerator and you should see some activity within about a half hour if not within minutes. That's the point that I usually used to bottle before I moved to cornelius kegs.

Then stick it in the back of a dark cold closet and wait for a month. If you hear the bottles explode, you put too much wort in for priming.

Have fun.