Homebrewing-Northern Brewer Extra Pale Ale 1040
Posted on February 28, 2010 by mike
A couple weeks back I asked my wife if she would like to give homerbrewing a shot. She has seen me do it a few times both at our place in Fargo and at Jay’s place, and has been enjoying the fruits of my labor. So she decided she would give it a try herself. She loves EPA’s, especially Summits EPA, so she decided to grab Northern Brewers Extra Pale Ale 1040 kit with the WYeast smack pack. Good choice in my opinion!
Brew day came and because I’ve got a case of ADD I couldn’t wait for her to get up. So I started getting everything together, the gear, the kit and some beers to drink during the session. I had a Czech Pilsner that needed to be racked over to secondary, so I did that while I waited. I got to try out my new auto siphon, which really saves time and energy in racking. I racked and proceeded to sanitize everything for her. I know I should have let her do it, but I figured I was doing a favor, more than stealing the glory. I’ve started using Five Star’s Star San for my sanitation. This stuff isn’t overly expensive and is probably the best no rinse sanitizer on the market. Just mix it up based on the instructions and soak things for something like 30 seconds and your done.
If you are looking to make better beer, start using Five Star Star San. It isn’t expensive, its easy to use, and works really well.
Sanitation is complete and everything is laid out. When Sara, my wife, comes up stairs I give her a crash course in all of the gear she will be using today. I also show her all of her lovely ingredients and instruct her to taste and smell all of them. I feel the end product is more enjoyable when you know more about each thing that goes into it. She grabs the instructions and says, “Let’s get brewing.”
She pours in her water and starts to bring it up to a boil. We crack open a couple of Sam Adam’s Noble Pils, and start to discuss what happens during the steeping of the grains process. Again, I like to educate people about the beer making process and all of the chemical reactions that happen. I’m not scientist, but if someone takes away one piece of info to help them enjoy their beer more, it is worth it. Finally the water reaches around 110 degrees and she drops the grains in for steeping.
“One thing the instructions don’t say here that I like to practice,” I say to her, “is to really bring this up to 168 degrees slowly.” The instructions say 170 or 20 minutes, which ever comes first. I prefer to do both. A slow rise in temperature helps to bring out as much of the starches and enzymes needed for healthy fermentation. Its specialty grains though and are more for flavor than chemistry, but if your going to steep grains you might as well do it to the best of your abilities. Once the grains were done she poured in her LME that was sitting in a warm water pot next to use to loosen it up. Once the pour was complete we put it back on the stove and cranked up the heat.
Her instructions don’t really say anything about the hot break, but I believe it is important for every new brewer to know what it is, how to achieve it and how to manage it. From my past few batches I’ve learned a pretty good way to make it happen every time and without a lot of mess. Its all about patience. I instructed Sara to bring it up to a rolling boil very slowly. Keep track of your temperature and you’ll see it start to happen right of way. Some people just crank it up and go for it, but I like to ease into it, plus I think it lowers the chance of caramelization because I don’t over shoot 210-212, providing a clearer and better balanced beer.
The hot break is successfully managed, and Sara goes on sniffing her hops and tossing them into the batch. Fifty-nine minutes later she tossed in her aroma hops and moved the beer over to the fermenter. We used a plastic bucket this time, because it is just easier to use and for anyone brewing the first time, I’d highly recommend using the bucket first.
She cooled it down in an ice bath, but not before I snatched a sample out for a hot toddy, hot wort and Johnny Walker, which was delicious. She shook it up and pitched her WYeast smack pack into the brew. She placed it in a cool dark place and in a few weeks we will give it a taste test. All in all, it was a successful brew day without any major mess ups. I did spill some wort on my leg, but whatever. So be sure to check back to see what it looks at tastes like.
As always, if you think homebrewing is something you’d like to try, check out my “Getting Started Brewing My Own Beer” article to get started. Please let me know if you need some help getting started!
Brew Day Journal Stats
1 lbs Dingeman’s Caramel Pils
6 lbs Gold LME
2 oz Cascade (60 min)
1 oz Cascade (1 min)
WYeast 1056 American Ale
O.G. 1.042 | F.G.: 1.008 | ABV 4.5%