Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How to make beer, pt 3

Now if the first two methods didn't sound challenging enough, the third way to brew is to use grains either as the whole sugar bill or in combination with DME. The grains will be soaked at about 155F (68C) for between 30-90 minutes and the temperature may be stepped up too. The grains are then strained out of the water so that a wort is left. The grains can be rinsed with warm or hot water to rinse out more sugars. The resulting wort will either be augmented with DME or not, but at this point the wort will be boiled as in part 2 for 60 minutes with hops and various other ingredients. Again, many brewers will do a full boil as they will have collected quite a lot of water from rinsing the grains. The wort will be cooled and the yeast pitched. Again the fermenting will go from 2 weeks to 2 months. A good way to determine if the fermentation is complete is to check the sugar level of the beer. The final gravity will be compared to the original gravity and if the difference is acceptable then the beer can be bottled or kegged. The difference between those two gravities will also allow the brewer to determine the alcohol content of the beer. The bigger the difference the more alcohol. Most brewers will have a hydrometer which they will float in a sample of beer. This will determine the gravity based on sugar content. Then the sample will be tasted. All along the process it is possible to taste the beer or the grains to get an idea of what flavour each ingredient will impart on the beer.

Bottling beer requires that the beer be moved off any sediment into a clean bucket, then some corn sugar, DME or honey (actually any number of sweet things) will be added. The beer is mixed gently to incorporate the sugar but without incorporating too much air. The beer is then siphoned into the bottles. The sugar will give the yeast that one last little kick which will cause them to carbonate the beer. Carbonation can also be done in the keg but one of the beauties of using a keg is that you can chill the keg then pressurize it in 2 days thus having drinkable beer sooner without all the capping. The draw back is that you don't have bottled beer to share, it is all on tap. It is possible to bottle beer after the fact but care has to be taken to not lose the carbonation from the beer. Bottles are pre-chilled then cold beer is placed in clod bottles and capped immediately.

Now if all of this sounds fun the best way to get started is to look for a local homebrew store and they will help you get started. The most basic equipment list would include a fermenting bucket, a top and regulator for the bucket, tubing to siphon with, the bottling tube, and a store beer kit. The store beer kit is something that is guaranteed to work and if there are any problems the store owner can help. One of the biggest problems people have is either not cleaning things correctly, or they are not waiting long enough for the beer to age. Young beer can be a little sharper then new brewers expect and they think the beer hasn't turned out. Waiting a few more weeks to allow it to bottle age helps with that. And remember the brewers mantra: relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

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Blogger Sam said...

Now I definitely want to try making some of my own again.

Thanks for the great how-to's.

10:34 AM  

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