When I was living in Indiana, I heard about two people brewing beer. Since moving up to New England, I’ve been exposed to more and more home brewers who are turning out some really good batches.
I have to try this.
Enter my friend and upstairs neighbor Kevin.
“I have a bunch of my Dad’s brewing equipment at home, I just need to pick it up.”
Next week, we completed out set at the home brew supply shop Brewtopia in Keene. With a little amateur discussion of what would be best to start with, we decided on an American Brown Ale. Our first batch, so we called it Genesis.
Ben was kind enough to let us use his sugar shack to get the beer started, since our brew pot could have easily collapsed the electric stoves in either of our apartments.
We sanitized everything.
-6.5 Gallon Glass Carboy
-Pump Siphon with Tubing
-3 Piece Airlock and Carboy Cap
-Glass Measuring Cup
-Five Gallon Bucket
-Copper Wort Chiller and Tubing
For the Glass, we just poured boiling water over them. For most of the plastic, we used the sanitizer solution that we bought at Brewtopia.
At this point, we had already taken an hour. We knew this was going to be a long process.
Following the directions in John Palmers How to Brew, We got got 2 gallons up to 155 degrees and added grain bag for twenty minutes. I wasn’t allowed to get near the bag when it was being taken out, since I wanted to squeeze the remaining liquids out. “It’ll ruin it!” Allison screamed as I bit my lip and held my hands behind my head.
Now we added the Malt Extracts, turning off the heat to keep them from burning to the pot. As soon as the looked like they were properly dissolved, we brought it back up to a boil.
Here’s where things got sticky. We had been super excited for the “Hot Break” or the point when the proteins come out of solution and start o swirl around in the solution. This was gonna be some real chemistry! We we’re going to see our breer growing up before our eyes! We waited with baited breath…
And kept waiting…
We boiled for two hours and did not see a hot break.
We were started to lose our spirits at this point. “What did we do wrong? I bet it’s ruined!”
We called out for help from AJ from Brewtopia, who sold us all our gear and gave us our first pointers. He calmly talked us down off the ledge and said that we can go ahead and add the hops at this point.
We added hops and started the timer, but we had other problems. After two hours of boiling, it had reduced almost to a caramel consistency. I called AJ again to see if I could add water at this point. He Said I could. I did, pausing the hop timer until the boil resumed.
The business with the timer was all about the character that the hops were going to impart. The first addition is to add bitterness to counteract the sweetness of the malt and is boiled for 60 minutes. The second addition is for more complex flavors and a hint of aroma and is boiled for thirty minutes. The last addition is for a strong, complex aroma and is added when the wort (the name for the solution at this point) is removed from the heat.
We now had to get the wort to a temperature that would be comfortable for the yeast to grown in. To do this, we transferred the wort into a smaller, three gallon pot with the wort chiller.
The wort chiller is just a spiral of copper tubing that sits in the wort as cold water is passes through it, venting off the heat really quickly. This is critical, since letting the wort cool too slowly would allow for bacteria to get in and compete with the yeast. We needed to get it cooled and into the sterile carboy as soon as possible.
Finally, added the remaining water to bring the total volume up to five gallons, siphoned it into the carboy, and “pitched” in the yeast. Five hours later, we were finally done!
We attached the cap and the airlock, cleaned up, and drove back home with our new creation on Kevin’s Lap.
Now we’re waiting.