Pints for Prostates

Monday, October 17, 2011

Brew Day for Beer #1

Brew day finally arrived. I had been waiting about a month (!). A podcast I had listened to started an interest in brewing beer for myself (I can do it!). I started reading about the process and visiting the forums at I purchased the classic homebrewing book, How to Brew by John Palmer (free HTML version of earlier edition). The waiting started in earnest when I was given a Basic Starter Kit from Northern Brewer for my 40th birthday (thanks Kim!). 
Yup, 40...
Kim and Basic Starter Kit with drawings by the kids
Our brew day for Beer #1 was on October 10, a beautiful autumn day. With equipment, recipe, ingredients and instructions, we started.

Kim and I started boiling water in the kettle at 11:00 AM. The Extra Pale Ale extract kit included specialty grains: 1 lbs of Belgian Caramel Pils. We steeped them in a mesh bag. It was the same as steeping a tea bag in hot water. We smelled the pungent barley grains. At the boil point, we removed the bag of grain, added 3 lbs of the Gold malt syrup, and removed the kettle from the burner. We stirred in the thick brown syrup.

Next, we brought the water back up to a boil. But at that point when the boil is obtained, the mixture is no longer boiling water, but is called "wort," a brewers term for unfermented wort.
wort noun, the unfermented or fermenting infusion of malt that after fermentation becomes beer or mash. Origin: before 1000; Middle English; Old English wyrt; cognate with German Wurze spice; akin to wort.( 
The brew became wort at 11:56 AM. At that point, we started the 60 minute timer and added 2 oz of Cascade hops. Wow! The strong smell of those hops filled the kitchen. We looked at each other with wide grins. We were doing it! We were making beer! The surface of the wort was green from the dissolution of the green hop pellets.
While the wort was boiling, we sanitized the fermenter, airlock, thief, bowl, spoon, scissors, thermometer, etc. Part of brewing is an attention to cleanliness. Equipment must be washed AND sanitized.   

We also prepared the yeast according to Palmer's instructions. I used Safale US-05 dry ale yeast. The process involves timed actions at specific temperatures. Not hard, but important.

One minute before the end of the 60 minute boil, we added 1 oz of the Cascade hops. The first dose we added earlier was to add bitterness to balance the malty sweetness of the barley malt. The boil time allows isomerization of the hop resins. The second dose adds flavor and aroma.

We started cooling the wort at 12:56 PM. It was cooled by putting the kettle in a sink filled with ice water. We needed to bring the wort down to approximately 100 degrees.

When the wort was chilled, I added three gallons of water (1 gallon distilled, 2 gallon spring...the grocery store was out of distilled water) to the fermenter. Poured the wort in. Aerated the wort by putting the lid on the fermenter and rocking it back and forth.

I used a thief to take a sample of the wort and a hydrometer to measure the gravity. We got 1.044 OG, which is quite close to the 1.045 OG that is expected for the recipe.

Next, we "pitched" the yeast at 1:24 PM. I sealed the fermenter and attached the air lock.

We cleaned the kettle and other instruments and finished at 1:50 PM. Just short of three hours total. It was fun :)

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