6.6 pounds Northwestern amber malt extract
3/4 pound 60 degree L Crystal Malt
2-1/2 ounces Fuggles hop plugs (4.6% alpha)
1 ounce Cascades whole leaf hops. (5% alpha)
1 package Glen-brew ale yeast
1/2 ounce Irish Moss
When using liquid yeast, I always use a starter. I use a 1 liter Erlenmeyer flask (get a 2 liter if you haven’t got one; the more yeast you pitch to your beer, the stronger your ferment will be. Increase the water to 2 C and dme to 1 C), filled with boiling water to sterilize it. I boil about 1 C water with 1/2 C DME for five minutes, and add that to the sterilized flask, covering it with foil that has been torched by a Bic lighter, and allowing to cool completely. I add the expanded smack pack when cool, and allowed to sit a day before pitching. You will need a bung and airlock for your starter as well. Plan ahead. You want your yeast environment to be free of all bacteria before putting in your sterile yeast pack.
Your wort can safely sit for 24 hours after boiling and cooling, as long as your car boy has been properly sanitized.
An aquarium aerator helps in adding O2 to add O2 to the wort for maybe 10 minutes. I use a racking can to hold down the end of the hose inside the wort. I have not found an inexpensive airstone to use. The homebrew shops sell the stainless steel ones for around $30. I don’t use an airstone any more.
The next batch I make will use a Wyeast American Ale II a double pitch.
The second pitch I will do at bottling to assure a complete ferment and carbonation. Yes it costs more, but I have had batches crash at bottling, not having enough viable yeast left in the wort to carbonate. Use same amount of priming sugar. No starter needed.
I prefer to use DME instead of malt syrup as it makes a stronger beer. Syrup has a lot of water in it.
I do not use Irish moss any more, as I found that it made absolutely no difference.
My fermenter is a 6 1/2 gallon carboy. Pouring hot wort into it is not a good idea. I prefer to set my wort in a sink or wash tub with ice water, and add ice to the wort itself.
The Glenbrew yeast was not available from where I bought my supplies so I will use Wyeast.
I prefer DME instead of liquid malt extract. I am using 7 lbs amber DME.
I am using 1 lb of 60L crystal malt.
2 oz Fuggles 2 oz pellets..4.3% AA units
Cascade whole hops 1 ½ oz…7.3% AA units
.7 ounce Irish moss…all I had..I figured and Irish beer? Irish moss ok. It was very old.
I am an old school brewer, and have it in my head to boil for a solid 60 minutes, with appropriate hop additions along the way.
We begin by bringing 2 gallons of water in a brew pot; I have a 5 gallon. A 7 gallon or even 6 would be better, to allow what’s called a full wort boil. Use what you got. I began brewing 20 years ago with a 3 gallon. One just has to add more water after cooling the wort.
Bring the water to 160º, and put in the grain bag. Start your timer for 30 minutes, and watch the temp of the water. Keep it below 170, and above 150 degrees.
While the grains are steeping, be heating up another pot with 1 gallon of water to 160 degrees. This will be for sparging (rinsing) when the grains are done. Get out your collander to rest on the brewpot for sparging.
Meanwhile, prepare the DME; cut open the bags. Lay out hops. Sanitize carboy. I use a 6 ½ gallon for the primary ferment, and siphon to a 5 gallon after the primary ferment is done.
When the grains have stepped for the thirty minutes, remove them and place in your collander over your brewpot, and rinse them with the other pot of water. Allow to drain. Do not wring it.
When draining is done, removed the collander and bring up the heat to near boiling.
Remove brewpot from heat completely, and add DME. Stir until completely dissolved. This is critical as if any lumps of the DME fall to the bottom and remain undissolved, they will burn and ruin the whole batch. Stir, stir, stir until you are positive all is dissolved. Then and only then will you return the brewpot to the burner, and bring to a boil.
At this point, you must watch it very carefully, and when the wort (unfermented beer) gets close to the boiling point, it will begin to rise up with foam.
You must remove it from heat to prevent a boil over. It’s the only way. You cannot stir it out. If you have ceramic top stove, slide the pot over off the burner. If you use a stove with elements, it’s better to just remove it, and place it back until the hot break is reached. That is where the wort no longer foams, and you can relax…a little.
The first hop addition was 1 ounce Fuggles at the beginning. Start your timer for 60 minutes. The second ounce of Fuggles was at 20 minutes.
I am adding a half ounce of Cascades at 15 minutes with the Irish moss, and another ½ oz Cascades at 5 minutes.
By now, you should be preparing your cooling station. I use a washtub with cold water and ice. I also add ice cubes to the wort to aid in cooling. The fast you cool your wort to room temp the better. I also keep a gallon or so water in the freezer to aid in cooling down the wort in the fermenter if necessary. A deep sink works ok as long as the cold water is even with the wort inside the brewpot.
Our goal is to get the wort as close as possible to the temp of the yeast starter we started a few days ago. If you wort is more than 10 degrees higher than your yeast, you will increase what is called “lag time” before the ferment begins. The quicker the ferment starts, the less chance we have of getting our wort contaminated.
Warm wort is like a bacteria vacation. Don’t let ’em in.
Remove wort from boil, and place in cooling vessel. I add bottle water ice cubes to the wort itself to aid in cooling. The vessel contains ice water as well. I use the brew thermometer to stir the ice cubes in the wort…carefully.
Keep the lid on, but you can stir the wort to evenly distribute the cooling wort. Be sure not to breathe directly into your wort while stirring. Our breath contains some really nasty bacteria that would just love to take up homesteading in your nice, sweet wort.
The cooling will take usually around 20 minutes, depending on how prepared we are.
Today, my target temp is 75 degrees.
I got it down to 75 after the agonizing filter-out-the hops-process. That is why I dislike pellet hops versus leaf hops. All homebrew shops are different, carry different types of hops; leaf hops, hop plugs (pressed leaf hops), and pellet hops which are chopped and pressed into what looks like cocoa puffs.
The funnel has a strainer in it to filter out the hops. It must be constantly scraped with the thermometer to allow the wort through. Yep, pain in the ass.
Now we must aerate our wort. After all that boiling, there is little, if any oxygen left in our wort for our yeast to eat, so we must add some O2 to it. In the past, I have just grabbed the carboy by the neck, and shook the hell out of it, but that doesn’t really add a lot of oxygen. This is a dual line aquarium aerator with an airline attached, using a stiff tube to support it and hold it in the carboy. I used a clothespin to keep the tip off the bottom. 10 minutes of this, and ’twill make our yeast happy.
Next, the original gravity (OG). This is important to know as it tells us the potential of how much ABV (alcohol by volume) our beer has. It will also tell us when the fermentation is finished…more or less.
Can you see where the hydrometer sits? It’s on 1.060.
I use a gizmo called “the thief” that allows me to pull a sample of beer out, and drain it into my hydrometer with little or no mess.
Our OG is a respectable 1.060. This tells us that the potential ABV is 8%. It won’t get that high, and that’s OK. The only way it would is if the wort fermented down to 1.000. If it did, it wouldn’t have any flavor. Champagne, ferments actually below 1.000 and some dry wines as well; high in alcohol, but low in flavor.
After checking the gravity, I pitched the yeast into it, and used the aerator for another couple minutes to mix in the yeast.
We will be hoping to attain a final gravity of around 1.015, which is about ¼ of OG. When the wort reaches this level of ferment, we are ready to siphon into secondary for clearing.
Given the troubles we had with our yeast, this could go horribly wrong, and have a slow take off. Ideally, I should see the airlock on this start to bubble by bedtime tonight.
Now, for the clean up.
Will update as brew progresses (or not).
18 hours later
Update 8 days later
I racked off the beer today into the secondary fermenter. The gravity is at 1.015…nice.
Will bottle next week.
I bottled the brew today with another yeast pack of same and 3/4 C corn sugar. FG was 1.018. I was able to bottle 20 22 oz bombers, 3 1 liter plastic bottles, 1 12 oz clear bottle, and one 16 plastic Coke bottle.
one must sanitize your equipment; fermenters, bottles, hoses, canes, everything that touches your beer or you risk contamination. I use One Step sanitizer. Ebay has it for $11 a pound and free shipping. Most homebrew shops either sell you 8 oz or 5 lbs. I have used One Step fro 20 years without any problems. 1 tablespoon per gallon of water; dissolve it, and rinse away. It is said that if you let your equipment dry after sanitizing, you do not have to rinse it.
One can use bleach too, but it must be rinsed again and again to rid the smell.