Wednesday, 23 March 2011

New Beer

So I finally got all the ingredients together for my next beer. It will be a clone of the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. This is the best selling IPA in north america and a very good beer. I actually went out and bought the book 'Extreme Brewing' written by the owner of dogfish head brewery which contains, more or less, this recipe. Unforunately, I lent all my brewing equipment to my brother-in-law as he wanted to make a bunch of beers at once so now I have to get that all back.

For anyone that might be interested here are the numbers for the recipe:
7484.00 gm Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 90.9 %
752.00 gm Amber Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 9.1 %
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.00%] (90 min) Hops 46.6 IBU
0.53 oz Warrior [15.00%] (90 min) Hops 23.2 IBU
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50%] (10 min) Hops 16.8 IBU
0.62 oz Simcoe [10.00%] (90 min) Hops 16.3 IBU
0.50 oz Simcoe [10.00%] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops - 
0.50 oz Warrior [15.00%] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops - 
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.00%] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops - 
0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc 
6.00 gal New York, NY Water 
1 Pkgs Whitbread Ale (Wyeast Labs #1099) Yeast-Ale

The important part of this is that the hops is added continuously through the boil period little by little and then again dry hopped after primary fermntation. 

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Wedding beer

I have been asked by my sister to make a batch or two of homebrew for her to serve at her wedding. The question is, what should I make? I'd like a beer that I will enjoy myself but that usually don't tend to be something that the masses will also like. I don't want to be selfish but I know if I make a beer to suit my tastes that the bride and groom will also enjoy it as we have similar tastes. I guess this changes the question to, is making a beer for a wedding more for the bride and groom to enjoy or the people attending? Maybe I will just make two.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Intro to brewing

Here is a synopsis of the brewing process:
  1. Malted barley is soaked in hot water to release the malt sugars.
  2. The malt sugar solution is boiled with Hops for seasoning.
  3. The solution is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
  4. The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing CO2 and ethyl alcohol.
  5. When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation. 
This, of course, is a massive over simplification. The quantities of each ingredient, the time in which they are added, the temperature all this is done at, these all make the difference between the swill you might drink in a park as a young teenager and a delicious beverage paired perfectly with an exquisite meal. 

So lets break down those 5 steps to get some detail.

1. Malted barley is normal barley that has been heated slightly to allow enzymes in the grain to convert starches into more basic sugars that can easily be broken down. The amount of heat and the length of time it is heated will give you variations on what flavor and color the malted barley will bring to the beer. As a first step to the brewing process, this malted barley is soaked in hot water, usually in the range of 150-160 degrees F. This process, known as mashing, is use to further convert the starches into basic sugars. Starches themselves are not easily fermented so conversion into simple sugars that are easy to ferment into alcohol is very important to creating any alcoholic beverage. Again, the time and temperature of mashing will give different results in the end product. The idea here is to break down as much of the starches into fermentable sugars without letting is soak so long that the rest of the barley breaks down and contributes weird flavors to the beer. Typically around an hour is required.

2. The solution from the first step is separated and the liquid (now rich in fermentable sugars) is ready for boil. This liquid is known as wort and as you would expect from something containing lots of sugar, is very sweet. In order to add some bitterness to offset the extreme sweetness, a plant called hops is used. Hops grow wildly all over the world (possibly why beer is so universal through history) and the flowering buds are used to add bitterness to beer. Different hops from all over the world add very different flavors and amount of bitterness to a beer. Hops are added to a boiling wort solution first at the beginning of the boil to add bitterness and then towards the end of the boiling process to add aroma and flavor. This process again, is typically about an hour from first rolling boil.

3. Now the solution is full of sugar but has been bittered and flavored by hops to make it enjoyable to drink. The only thing missing is the alcohol. No one likes non-alcoholic beer. In comes yeast. Yeast is a bacteria found almost everywhere. It naturally occurs just about anywhere moisture is left alone for a while above freezing or below a boil. Of course there are many many many different strains of yeast and only a select group are used to convert sugars to alcohol in beer. Yeast are most efficient (much like people) at a comfortable medium temperature so the wort that was just boiled needs to be cooled my some means to around 70 degrees F. Once this has been done, the yeast is added to the wort in either a dried form or liquid form.

4. Yeast are hungry little guys. If you put food in front of them, they will consume it. Once they eat all the food, they will die. Luckily for us, as the yeast consume the sugar, the byproduct is alcohol, CO2 and a bit of heat. I always thought the life of yeast in beer was a decadent one. Basically all they do is eat as much as they can, use that energy to multiple as much as they can, all the while shitting out alcohol and CO2. Eat, Fuck, Shit. Sounds like a good life.

5. Now all the sugar has been converted into alcohol and some CO2 and you have beer. Typically, the amount of CO2 created during the fermentation process is not enough to give beer the carbonation we desire so we need to add more. There are two ways to do this which are commonly used by brewers. Firstly, if you are bottling beers individually, you can simply add a small amount of sugar which will again be converted into some alcohol and CO2 by any left over living yeast. On the other hand if you plan on putting your beer into kegs, you can force high pressure CO2 into the beer until you get the desired amount of carbonation.

And there you have it, the basics of brewing, very basically explained.

My brewing equipment

My current homebrew setup thus far includes a big ass pot for a main brew kettle, a smaller pot with a drain valve at the bottom for spargeing, a coleman cooler with copper drain manifold for a mash tun and a stainless steel conical fermenter.

I also made a simple copper wort chiller you can see in the background of the above picture. All relatively cheap and easy to acquire equipment aside from the conical fermenter which is expensive and needs special order from a homebrew supplier.

After brewing is complete, I have soda kegs for storage and carbonation purposes.

Hopefully in the future I can find some other cheaper alternatives to my conical fermeter so I can brew multiple batches at once. As it stands, this is the extent of my gear.

Home Brew Blog open

So I decided to start a blog to chronicle my home brewing efforts for reference as well for possible educational purposes. I have been home brewing beer in different capacities for about a year now. I haven't manage to brew anything in the passed few months as I have moved and don't have a good space to keep all my equipment at this time. Hopefully I can figure something out sooner rather than later as I plan to make some test batches for a beer that will eventually be served at my sisters wedding.