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If your idea of good beer is Bud, Millers, or Coors, the low-hopped, rice beers, as I call them, this page may not be your mug of beer. If, on the other hand, you've sampled and liked micro brews or good imported ales and lagers, you may want to hang around.
Home-brewed beer can equal and at times rival even good micro brews. And this includes malt extract as well as all grain batches. All it takes is fresh, quality ingredients and absolute dedication to sanitation.
The first step in home brewing is cleaning and sanitizing the equipment. You will need at least a three-gallon stainless steel or enamel pot. Seven gallon would be ideal for five-gallon batches made from malt extract, which is what most people use in the beginning. Below is a list of the absolute minimum equipment you will have to buy or borrow.
Three-gallon pot Six-Gallon Primary Fermenter with Spigot Fermentation Lock and stopper
Chlorine Racking Cane Four-feet of 3/8 inch Plastic Hose Long-handled spoon (not wooden)
Two handed bottle capper Caps (sold by the gross ) Cheese cloth grain bag 48 brown
bottles Floating dairy thermometer
Okay, the minimum equipment has been acquired; next come the ingredients for an all-malt pale ale. Do not buy a kit if it does not contain specialty malts (i.e. crystal malt, etc), or if the recipe calls for sugar to be added to the boil, or if it contains hopped extract.
8 pounds light malt dried extract 1 ounce Fuggles hop pellets 1/2 pound crystal malt, 60 L, crushed 4.0 alpha for flavor 1/2 pound Munich malt, crushed 1 ounce Kent Golding hop pellets 4 ounces malto-dextrine powder 4.4 alpha for aroma 1 ounce Kent Golding hop pellets 1 teaspoon Irish moss 4.4 alpha for bittering Wyeast #1098 British or equivalent 1/2 ounce Fuggles hop pellets 2/3 cup corn sugar 4.0 alpha for bittering
The day before brewing, boil four gallons of water and store in sanitized one-gallon jugs If you have a seven-gallon pot this step may be omitted. Clean and sanitize all equipment with a solution of one tablespoon of unscented Clorox in one gallon of water. An hour before beginning, fill the primary fermenter with the above solution. In another clean container, add more of the solution for sanitizing equipment before and during the brewing process. Soak the Irish moss in a 1/2 cup of water.
Place the crushed crystal and Munich malts in the grain bag and place in two gallons of water (six-gallons of water if the pot permits). Begin to heat. When the water temperature reaches 170 degrees, remove the grain bag and discard. Heating grain above this temperature will make the beer cloudy. Continue heating until the water boils. This is definitely not the time to visit the facilities. A boil over may occur. Watch the pot constantly. When it first begins to boil stir down the boil until it subsides, then note the time and add the bittering hops; also take note of the volume with a ruler. This measurement will be needed later.The boil should be uncovered and vigorous without risking a boil over.
After 45 minutes add the flavoring hops and the Irish moss. If a wort chiller is available, add it at this time, too. Check the volume of the wort with a ruler and add enough water to bring back the original volume. Boil for another fifteen minutes and turn off the heat. Add the aroma hops and stir gently. Not comes the dangerous part. Until now wort has been protected from bacteria by the boil. Once the wort chills to 140 degrees, it gets increasingly riskier.
If there's a wort chiller, cover the wort and begin the chill. It should take about 40 minutes to chill the wort to 70 degrees. Without a wort chiller cover add four gallon of the reserved water to the plastic fermenter, then gently add the hot wort being careful not to splash the wort too much. Place the fermenter in a bathtub or laundry tub of cold water. This may take several hours or even overnight. While waiting, start the clean-up; it takes less time if it's done right away. And easier, too.
After the wort has cooled to 70 degrees, stir it gently with a sanitized spoon to create a whirlpool. Recover and let sit for 20 minutes. With a racking cane and plastic tubing, siphon the cooled wort from the edge of the pot. Try to transfer as little of the greenish/brown stuff (trub, pronounced troob) from the pot. Keep the pot covered during this process until right before the end, so as to see when to stop. Now is the time to splash. Let the wort run down the side of the fermenter. Fermentation will begin sooner if the wort is well aerated.
Now it's time to pitch (add) the yeast. Holding the swollen yeast pouch, pierce the top with a sanitized pin to let the gas out. Cut the top of the pouch with sanitized scissors and pour the yeast into the fermenter. Seal the fermenter with its lid, attach the air lock and shake the fermenter to add more oxygen to the wort. Finally, add vodka to the air lock and store in a cool place; room temperature will do for ale. Avoid, however, direct sunlight.
After two days, it's a good idea to count the bubbles per minute in the airlock. This will indicate the reducing degree of fermentation. If the beer will go through a secondary fermentation in a glass carboy, it should be racked off the primary after four to five days. When the bubbling in the airlock indicated minimum activity or stops, it's time to bottle
Sanitize 48 brown 12-ounce bottles. Bring a quart of water to boil, turn of the heat and add about 60 bottle caps. Boil the corn sugar in a cup of water; cover and cool. Lift the lid on the fermenter and add the cooled corn sugar solution. Stir gently with a sanitized spoon. Attach the siphon hose to the spigot of the covered fermenter. Begin to fill the bottles controlling the flow with the spigot. Leave 3/4 inch of head space in the bottles, Four hands makes the job go a lot easier and faster. So does a bottle filler attached to the siphon hose.
As the bottles are filled, caps should be placed over them to keep microscopic critters from getting the beer. They like it, too. After all the bottles are filled, they should be capped immediately. Rinse the spilled beer off the bottles and clean up the fermenter (or bottling bucket as it's now called) and the rest of the equipment.
I know it's tough, but do wait at least ten days before sampling. a month is even better, but that may be asking too much. Save, however, at least two six-packs to sample at one month and again after two months. If obsessive sanitation was observed and the instructions followed, the days of the Undisputed King of Beer are numbered for homebrewers.
After a few malt extract batches, it's time to get serious and better control the brewing process. Get ready for all grain brewing.
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|Seven-Gallon Enamel Pot||$35|
|Plastic primary fermenter with spigot and lid||12|
|Fermentation Lock and Stopper||3|
|Four feet plastic hose (food-grade tubing)||3|
|Two-Handed Bottle Capper||15|
|Caps (sold by the gross )||2|
|48 Brown Bottles (not screw off)||
Free if you buy good micro brews
|Cheese Cloth Grain Bag||2|
DAMN NEAR ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT
|Secondary Fermenter (five-gallon glass carboy)||$20|
|Hydrometer and Test Jar||7|
|Racking Tube (cane)||3|
|Jet Carboy and Bottle Washer||7|
|Faucet Adapter for Carboy Washer||3|
|Bench Bottle Capper (buy this in the first place)||33|
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I remember when I first started homebrewing how much information several of the books I bought did not provide. For instance most of the recipes for a five-gallon batch called for five-gallons of water. Naturally my first batch produced four gallons. Didn't take long to figure out that I needed to adjust the recipe to obtain six-gallons of chilled wort. That meant starting with six gallons and adding water along the way. It almost worked.
While I had measured how many inches in the brew pot were needed for six gallons, I did not take into account that nine-inches of boiling water is not nine-inches of chilled wort; it's actually about eight and one-half inches. Hot water expands. But how much?
That formula and some others that I culled from different sources follow. I will be periodically adding to the list and hope the information will make your brewing easier and better.
Multiply the inches of boiling wort by .9415. First, of course you have to measure how many inches five, six and seven gallons take up in the pot. I use an eighteen-inch plastic ruler. By doing this you can know within a quart how much chilled wort you will have. How much is lost from trub removal is another matter and depends upon the technique used.
Ounces of Hops × Percent Alpha × Percent Utilization ÷ Volume × 1.35
When multiplying the percent alpha, be sure to use the whole number, not the decimal; i.e. use 28 not .28. To substitute pellets for whole hops, use 15 percent less pellets.
The below formula calculates how many pounds of cane sugar are required to produce a desired original °balling. If you are working in specific gravity, you will have to convert the desired SG to °Balling.
(259 + °Balling) × °Balling ÷ 3,100 = Pounds per Gallon.
This formula is how to calculate the pounds of grain needed to produce a predetermined original °Balling, based upon the above formula based upon sugar.
Example: You want to brew a 5-gallon batch starting with 6 gallons of wort in the primary fermenter with an original gravity of 52°. Converting SG to Balling gives 12.8°Balling. Using the sugar based formula, you need 1.1222 pounds of sugar per gallon. Multiply that by 6 gallons to arrive at 6.73 pounds of sugar.
Assume you're using two-row English pale malt with an efficiency rating of 74%. Divide the 6.73 pounds of sugar by .74 to determine that 9.10 pounds of grain are needed. But if the 2-row pale ale malt is only 90 percent of the recipe, it is multiplied by .90 to result in 8.18 pounds. Naturally, similar calculations are necessary for the remaining ten percent of specialty grains.
Pounds Needed (based on sugar) ÷ Percent Efficiency of Extract Source × Percentage of Grains in Recipe.
One of the best links to good stuff and other links is the Real Beer page.