Homebrewing: The Second Experiment

Posted on January 22, 2010 by

Another Homebrewing Session

With less than a week before Christmas day a group of us decided to celebrate the looming holiday season the best way we knew how…brew another batch. Today was going to be a special day, I was going to share my first batch with the guys that have helped me along on my brewing journey and on top of that, a new comer was going to show up and learn to brew her first batch. It is always fun having someone new around to help along the way.

I grabbed all my gear, a six pack of my Red Ale, later known as Reindeer Ale, a meat and cheese tray, and headed off to Jay’s house again. I arrived around 1 pm and they were in full swing brewing the first batches. I poured myself a “girl beer” that Jay brewed last time and started sanitizing all of my stuff. I was going to be hanging out for a bit. I didn’t need to do much with this recipe, it was a pure extract kit.

Making the Wort

Bavarian Hefewiezen

That is what I brewed that day. Like I mentioned, it was a complete extract kit with minimal hops to be added. Today was a treat though, I got to use Jay’s Bayou burner outside. Sure I live in North Dakota, sure there was a lot of snow outside, and sure it was cold, but standing around a brewing pot of wort with a cold beer in hand is just like sitting outside roasting a wiener in the summer time next to a camp fire. Complete bliss.

I brought my water to a boil and added my liquid malt extract and my dry malt extract. I kept a little bit around, not for bottling, but to put in little baby jars. I’ve decided to start a flavor library for future reference. After adding my fermentables, I brought the wort back up to a boil. Something I don’t think I did properly last time I tried to achieve this time. Jay had told me about the “hot break” and I wanted to make it happen. Basically, the hot break helps to break down proteins for clarification and helps with head retention in the final product. It is a tricky process of temperature balancing. You want to bring the wort up to a boil but it begins to foam at the top. Some people scoop this out, but I prefer to keep everything in. Anyway, you have to manage that foam so it doesn’t go over the side, so like I said, it is a teeter totter battle of temperature for about 8 minutes.

Basically, the hot break helps to break down proteins for clarification and helps with head retention in the final product. It is a tricky process of temperature balancing.

Once the hot break was managed I tossed in my hops and waited. Another thing I did differently this time was I added in Irish Moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Again, this acts as a clarifying agent, reacting with the proteins and breaking them down. I believe it affects the proteins that are only seen at lower temperatures, so basically once your brew is in the bottle and refrigerated.

Pitching the Yeast

Once the wort was complete, I poured some into a glass for hot toddies and put the lid on and began the process of the cold break. I don’t have a bucket so using the wort chiller was out of the question, but luckily I live in North Dakota. This is how we do it in North Dakota.

I cooled it down and put it into my carboy. Once it got into the carboy I realized that it hadn’t come down to temperature just yet and I didn’t want to pitch the yeast and possibly make the mistake I did last time. So I waited.

While I was waiting we sat down and ate some chilly which was pretty damn good on a cold winter day. Along with that we did something that I have been dying to do. We did a beer tasting. Jay lined up about 6 or 7 different types of beer and brew. We pulled out the BCJP manual and went through tasting and profiling each brew. It was a lot of fun and a great experience.

After dinner we cleaned up and packed up. My wort was still not at the right temperature, so I loaded it up in my car and brought it home. I figured a little more aeration wouldn’t hurt either. Once I got home it was down to pitching temperature so I pitched my WYeast and stored it away. This was the first time using the WYeast and I have to say, it was totally worth the extra $5, by morning my brew was fermenting and it was healthy.

After about a week and a little swoosh, I put this brew into a second stage. I purchased a 5 gallon carboy for myself for Christmas. I really want to clear this one up and take out a little more of the yeast flavor. Plus its fun to add more steps, I could honestly brew all day long and not get bored with it. We’ll see how this one turns out in a few weeks. Be sure to read the review when it comes out!

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