Homebrewing – The Fourth Experiment

Posted on January 26, 2010 by

I’ve got 3 homebrews underneath my belt and I still feel like my process could be more smooth. I’ve read in some places that you should really go about 10 batches before you try to get fancy. It is really all about keeping spectacular sanitation processes and the more overall steps you add to your process the more chance you have that you’ll Homebrewing Suppliesscrew something up. Regardless, I think I’ve got the knowledge down to consistently pull off a batch. So I invited a friend over today to brew up an American Wheat from Northern Brewer. He has been inquiring about the process for a few weeks now and I am finally ready to show him what I know.

The day started off as all my usual brewing days. Food and beer. Once the logistics were out of the way we were ready to start sanitation. Today is different than the past couple of times. I’ve got a new bucket to break in, a strainer, a hop ball, and some new sanitizer. I went with a bottle of Star San. All of my reading points to this being a pretty solid sanitizer.

Buckets are awesome! They allow you to sanitize everything plus your fermenter all at once. For that reason I could see myself using buckets more often. We got everything in the bucket and started boiling the water. I did something different here too. Again, in my research I found that water that is reversed-osmosis does not contain any minerals, which is the water I have been using. The yeast needs the minerals, the calcium and magnesium help the enzymes that drive the brewing process. I do believe the fact that I’m doing malt extracts help raise those levels compared to all grains. However, instead of the reverse-osmosis water I had Dan pull 6 gallons of water out of the filter in the fridge.

Buckets are awesome! They allow you to sanitize everything plus your fermenter all at once.

So, we’re brewing up an American Wheat. It’s just a bunch of wheat extract and 2 oz. of hops. However I was fortunate enough to get 2 pounds of honey from a co-worker Honey and Wheat Extractsthat her mother in law makes. I decided I was going to get a little spontaneous and toss this stuff in. I went over to beer calculus and put my recipe in and made some adjustments to the recipe to make sure things would still be awesome. The main thing I changed was the hop schedule. Instead of 1 oz for 60 minutes and 1 oz for 15, I did 1.5 oz for 60 minutes and .5 oz for 15 minutes. With the addition of the honey the brew was going to get much sweeter so I wanted to keep the bitterness close so I didn’t have sugar water. In the end, the brew was going to end up with 2% more alcohol in it, a honey flavor, and a decent hop bitterness.

So we brewed it up just like that. During the time of brewing I was showing Dan what to do and when, and why certain things happen. We actually discussed some of the equipment he would need to be able to get started. I pointed him to my “getting started brewing my own beer” article as I think it provides good explanation of what you get for your money. I’ve said it before, homebrewing can be really easy! We boiled the water, added the extract, put the hops in, added the honey, and put the rest of the hops in. On a side note, we boiled the honey for 40 minutes. I figured this would sterilize the honey enough to not be worried.  After that, we brought it down to 70 degrees in 15 minutes. I’ve found that 3 bags of ice can get my brew down from a boil to the cold break temp in 15 minutes.

If you don’t remember, a Hot Toddy is some of your hot wort mixed with scotch and enjoyed over good conversation.

I picked up a bottle of Johnny Walker Red earlier in the day. Dan loves Scotch and I love Hot Toddies so we shared 3 Hot Toddies that evening. If you don’t remember, a Dan Nisbet and Mike Biewer Hot Toddy is some of your hot wort mixed with scotch and enjoyed over good conversation.

I got to use my new strainer as well that worked perfectly with my bucket. It kept all the icky hop sludge out of my fermenter. I shook up the brew to aerate it and get some good oxygen into the brew, took a hydrometer reading, 1.059 which was pretty close, I usually don’t fuss unless it is more than .005 off. The temperature was down so we pitched! We will have some American Honey Wheat Ale in 4 weeks!


Bottled on February 15th 2010 with a FG of 1.016 leaving me at about 5.7% ABV.

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  • http://snobbyhops.com Aaron Mielke

    I love it Mike!

    You’re gonna have your own brewery in 3 months if you keep brewing at this pace!

  • mike

    Wouldn’t that be awesome if I could make that happen? I need a bit more money and a signature brew before I start to think to seriously about it. But…it is something I think about.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • http://dannisbet.com/ Dan Nisbet

    Yeah, you got me hooked on brewing dude. Looking forward to doing another batch!

  • http://beerforthedaddy.blogspot.com Sean Nordquist

    Sounds like it will be great! I have actually never heard of the Hot Toddy (at least not as you describe it) but will DEFINATELY be trying it next brew session!

    – Beer for the Daddy

  • mike

    Yea. the Hot Toddy is why I brew…Well, part of it. Definitely try it. The Scotch cuts the super sweetness of the wort down and makes it a delicious warm drink that is very enjoyable in the middle of the winter. I’ve debated on keeping a half gallon of wort around just to make hot toddies.

    Thanks for the comment and support!

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