Noble Experiment

Entrepreneur. Cocktail and spirit champion. Old world wine provocateur.

Adventures in Homebrewing, Part I

I know its not about cocktails, but I suppose anything that involves crafting an alcoholic beverage can fall under the “Noble Experiment” spectrum.  So let’s talk about homebrewing!

First off, let me say that I am NOT an expert.  This was my first home brewing experience.  But the process is not that difficult to understand and I think a short and sweet primer on it would be useful to any aspiring homebrewers out there. I’m not saying that brewing beer is easy.  There are nuances and recipes beyond my wildest imagination.  But the base line process isn’t too hard and that’s what I’ll share with you.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking and dreaming about home brewing for a long time.  And a few weeks back I decided it was time to pull the trigger.  Not knowing where to start, I wandered over to my friends at Annapolis Homebrew and begged for some advice.  What they told me was that I should start with a kit and follow a recipe.  There will be time for adventurous recipe creation down the road, but if your first homebrew sucks, you’re not going to want to continue.  Follow the recipe, they told me.  So I did.  And I’m glad i did.  Because it turns out I knew very little about how to brew beer.  But that’s another story for another day.

So I got all of the required equipment, picked up my recipe, hops, malt, extracts and sugars, and got to work.  If you’ve never brewed your own beer, here is the basic rundown:

  1. Put some water in a pot and bring the temperature up to about 170 degrees, just below a simmer.
  2. Take your grains (I used three kinds of malt), put them in a porous bag and steep them in the water for 20 minutes.  Simple, right?
  3. Take out the grain bag and bring the water/grain mixture (called wort) to a boil.
  4. Add liquid or dry malt extracts (if you’re using them, which I did) and return the liquid to a boil.
  5. Start a 60 minute hop boil.  Add your hops in various stages with flavoring, bittering, and aroma hops added at different intervals (I added hops at minute 1, minute 40, and minute 55).
  6. After the 60 minute boil, cool your liquid down to 70 degrees.
  7. Transfer the liquid to your fermenter (a food safe plastic or glass container) and add additional water to bring your total liquid to 5 gallons.
  8. Add your yeast (this is called “pitching”), stir it up, and seal it to ferment.

That brings us to the end of phase one.  The liquid has been turned into wort, hops have been added for flavoring and the base of your beer has been created.  We’ve then added yeast to start converting the sugars to alcohol and we’ve left it to ferment.

Now the adventure begins.  Stay tuned for the next post on fermentation, bottling, and drinking!

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2010 by in Beer, Homebrew and tagged , , .
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