Subject: Hello, Methods, and Brewing Notes
Date: 1989-01-24 17:21:30 GMT
Hello fellow zymurgists! Please excuse the length of this mail ... so
here goes anyway: I have been brewing beer for about three years.
I would like to share a few of my methods with the readers, because although
I would not necessarily recommend them, they do work well for me. The ales
and lagers I have produced are excellent, I think. The use of grains for
mashing gives the end result much more character than any all-extract brew,
in general. (However, my former roommate, a chemist, brews beers at the
next higher order of magnitude of quality from mine. He and I brewed our
first batches together. He now regularly saves yeast cultures for reuse.)
I attribute the success of my brews to mashing, and common sense.
I generally use five pounds (usually eight) to ten pounds of whole grain.
It is cracked in the $15.00 coffee grinder. Three decent grinds, or six
shots, whatever makes it look like there are a lot of husks left but
definitely some powder. I am talking about Pale Malt of course. I do
lightly crack the adjunct malted grains because I like to have the grist
uniform when I pour in the liquor. Therefore all the grain is cracked
and scooped around in a four gallon plastic bucket. Meanwhile, 2.5
gallons of spring water are being brought to exactly 175 degrees F (the
liquor). The grist is put in a nylon grain bag sitting in the 4 gallon
kettle. The liquor is poured into the bag, wooden spoon mixing and pushing
out the air bubbles. Initial heat is measured with the candy thermometer.
A pH reading is taken, and perhaps some ascorbic acid is added to
adjust it down (I bet that raises one response).
The temp. is always 150 deg., pH varies. I do feel that the adjuncts
contribute to this, because recent experiments with lighter brews
(fewer adjunct grains) had higher initial pH.
Mashing proceeds from 1.25 to 2 hours at 130 deg. to 155 deg. in the
kettle on a gas range. I have done it the oven set at low also.
(Just the facts Ma'am.)
Then we get to sparging. At least one gallon is heated to 175 deg.
The grain bag is removed from the wort, letting drip for a while.
It's placed down in a plastic bucket with the lid of the bucket
holding it up from the bottom. The hot water is poured slowly over
the grain bag from a small pitcher. This effectively strains out
a very dark and sweet wort. The sparged wort is added back to the
kettle, and set to a rolling boil. The spent grain is dumped on
the compost heap for the garden.
As the wort is heating up to a boil, any sugar or malt extract is
stirred in with the wooden spatula. Careful watching, it breaks
and you can turn it down a bit.
Boiling. It boils for at least fifteen or twenty minutes before adding
any hops. My recipes are always made up on the day of brewing, guided
by the recipe I made up when I bought the ingredients.
Sterilizing. Before brewing you spend two hours sterilizing all your
equipment, the kitchen surfaces, the top of the washing machine where
you place buckets, and other random items. Equipment to sterilize:
two five gallon plastic buckets with lids, two four gallon stainless
steel kettles, a grain bag, two pitchers, wooden spoon and spatula,
thermometer, quart saucepan, sieve, large funnel, 8 oz. coffee mug,
maybe a plate to place things on, and the hydrometer and fish tank
thermometer. The sterilizing solution is made of a bathtub three
quarters full with warm water and a few glugs of household bleach.
Everything that can fit is placed in the tub to soak for an hour or two.
Everything is rinsed numerous times, with hot tap water (but, use cold
foa the hydrometer and fish-tank thermometer). Usually the carboy is put
in the tub after everything else is removed for rinsing. It is good to have
the bathtub clear by the end of the boil.
Cooling the wort. The kettle removed from the stove, and covered wort is
placed in the tub that is half-filled with cold water. The wort is cool
within a half-hour.
The yeast starter: one half quart is taken from the wort after it
is boiling (all sugars have been added), but before any hops are
added. When it cools, pitch the yeast. By the time the wort is
finally cool, it is usually quite active, and ready to add to the carboy.
The cooled wort is added to the carboy with the yeast starter, and
probably a half ounce of hops pellets for aromatics (dry-hopping).
For these mostly-grain batches, I have not needed the blow-by-tube
most of the time. I can usually tell if it will be necessary.
Usually a month goes by before bottling. I'll send mail about bottling
in the future. I love the digest format of `homebrew', and will feel
free to be verbose this time. In fact, I thought I would end with a
couple of "recipes" that I recently took down. I will basically summarize
the notes from brews I made last fall. (All water is Poland Springs.)
(#27) day one: Halloween Stout
The liquor: 2.5 gal. H2O @ 170 deg. The grist: 5 lb. Pale Malt,
1 lb Crystal Malt, 1 lb. Chocolate Malt.
Mixed the above: 154 deg., pH 5.2. Maintained at 140 to 150 deg. for
1.5 hours. Ending pH 4.8. Added 3.3 lb John Bull Unhopped Dark to the wort.
Sparged the grain, brought the wort to a boil, extracted some for the yeast.
Boiled the wort: 20 min., added 1 oz. Clusters hops pellets
20 min., 1 oz. Hallertau loose hops buds,
10 min., 1 tablespoon Irish Moss
added an extra .5 gal. boiling spring water
another 20 min., I added 0.5 oz. Willamette hops pellets
for aromatics, and boiled another 15 minutes.
Set wort to cool, added it to the carboy with 3 gal. water, the yeast
starter, (and because that was not very impressive at the time) another
packet of the Red Star Ale Yeast. Specific gravity: 1.044
Set the six gallon carboy with the beer in the cool basement with a blow-by.
day 2: replaced tube with bubbler, there was no need for the blow-by.
day 29, bottled, s.g. 1.014.
(#28) day one: Ale
2.75 gal. H2O @ 170 deg, 5 lb. Pale Malt, 1 lb. Crystal Malt. 1 tsp. Gypsum
Initial heat: 155 deg., pH 5.0. Maintained at 120 to 153 deg. 2 hours.
ending pH 5.2 Sparged, added to the wort with: 4 lb. (minus two cups
reserved for priming two batches), and 1.3 lb. light brown sugar.
Extracted 1 qt. for the yeast starter.
Boiled: 30 min., added 1 oz. Willamette (Fuggles) hops pellets.
15 min., 1.5 oz. loose Hallertau hops
15 min., 1 T. Irish Moss
30 min. more boiling and strained the wort.
Sparged the hops with boiling water.
Added 1 oz. Clusters hops pellets for dry-hops to the cooling wort.
Added wort to the carboy, with yeast starter (Red Star Ale) mixture,
and 3.5 gal. water. Set with an airlock; s.g. is 1.048.
Notice I screwed up the hops. Clusters are for bittering, and Fuggles are
aromatics in general. So much for guessing! It should be interesting.
day 23, bottled. 1 cup light DME for priming, s.g. 1.011 @ 61 deg. F.
Almost 5% alcohol [ (48 - 11) / 7.46 = 4.95 ]
(#29) B. W. Lager
grist: 7 lb. cracked lager malt grain. liquor: 2.5 gal. spring water at
170 deg. Initial heat 150 deg., pH 5.9. added 1 T. gypsum, 2500 mg ascorbic
acid --> pH 5.3. Maintained porridge at 130-150 for two hours. pH 5.0.
sparged. 5 lb. Amber Unhopped DME added to wort as it neared boiling.
Extracted 1 qt. wort, cooled and added 1 packet Red Star Lager yeast.
Boiled the wort: 30 min., added 2 oz. loose Talisman hops
20 min., Irish Moss
10 min., 0.5 oz. loose Hallertau hops
20 min., strained wort, sparged.
The yeast is doin' great! While cooling, I added to the wort 1 oz. Willamette
hops pellets for aromatics. 64 deg. F, s.g. 1.029 (adjusts to 29.3)
day 30, bottlin' s.g. before priming 20 @ 55 deg. pretty high still.
50 bottles: 5 pints, 4 20-25 oz., 41 12 oz. brown bottles.
comments: it tastes great. low alcohol content (by the measurements anyway,
I can't notice the difference). Nice amber lager.
2.5 gal. water at 170 deg. added to 7 lb. cracked Lager grain.
initial heat 155 deg., pH 5.3 after adding 1250 mg ascorbic acid.
2 hours at 130 - 150 hours, ending pH seemed higher than starting.
Added sparge output, and 3.3 lb. light unhopped John Bull M.E. and
brought to a rolling boil. (took some for the yeast).
Boiled: 20 min., added 1.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops pellets
20 min., 1 oz. loose Talisman hops
and the Irish Moss
Set to cool and added 1 oz. Willamette hops pellets.
Added yeast starter, and 1.5 gal. water to 5 gal. carboy.
s.g 46 @ 74 deg. F.
The higher gravity seems to reflect a more effective mashing than the
day 2: disaster narrowly averted, bubbler almost completely
clogged. replaced with the blow-by tube.
day 25, bottled s.g. 18 @ 59 deg.
Fairly amber, not too sweet, a certain dryness in the aftertaste.
(#31) Twelfth Lager
10 lb. Lager grain, 4000 mg ascorbic acid, 3 gal. H2O @ 170 deg.
initial heat 155, pH 5.5, mashed for 2.25 hours. Sparged.
Boiled: 0 min., 1 lb. light unhopped DME
and 9 oz. Chinese Yellow Lump sugar
20 min., 1 oz. Talisman hops (loose in a hops bag)
15 min., 1 oz. German Hallertau hops pellets
10 min., Irish Moss
30 min., removed, strained, sparged hops.
Dry-hopped with 1 oz. Cascades hops pellets. s.g. 43 at 62 deg.
next day: beer is going well, with about 1 inch layer of foam.
No need for the blow-by most likely.
day 35, bottled s.g. 10 @ 55 deg. Slightly hazy,
very light colored. I have not brewed a beer of this color in over two
years. I once tried the recipe for Foster's Lager from Dave Line's
_Brewing_Beers_Like_Those_You_Buy. It was certainly as light as
the Foster's, but I had a problem with low initial gravity. It was
not nearly as malty as Foster's. My roommate at the time called it
a hops martini. The above lager (#31) will not be lacking in that
area I have a feeling. (I always wait three weeks for lagers to
condition. Two more to go. Stouts, on the other hand, like to be
sampled every day starting two days after bottling. What an amazing
array of flavors, as it changes every day for the first two weeks.
Better save some. :-) That's all for now!
Alex T. Jenkins
Mirror Systems, Cambridge Massachusetts atj@mirror.TMC.COM
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Cassius: You love me not.
Brutus: I do not like your faults.
Cassius: A friendly eye could never see such faults.
"Julius Caesar" IV,3
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