Adventures in Home Brewing: Day One

Greetings from one quarantined house to another! I hope everyone is doing okay and trying to brew their own beer because, what else are you going to do? I know here in the Midwest, we had snow yesterday.  So, I have been doing a lot of brewing, and I have both beer and mead fermenting as I type. 

Now, I know in my last post I hinted that this next post would be all about hops, but with everything going on, I figured that we could instead go over home brewing itself. This will be in three parts:  the actual brewing process, secondary rerack (we will have one here), and then kegging the beer. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the main event as I brew The Dude Coffee Ale.  

To start,I needed ingredients. There is a local brew supply store near my house that I always go to for ingredients. I tried to get in there before the shutdown was put into effect for my state, but missed the window.  So, I had to change it up and I had to order online. Amazon worked well enough but next time I may try ordering from a large brewing supply shop. I had to order in bigger amounts, but I was able to order all the ingredients I needed.

Once my ingredients were in, I found I had another new issue….not all of my grains were cracked.  Well, I got inventive. I weighed what I needed and put them into a bag and rolled a rolling pin over them for what felt like forever, but really for about ten minutes. Once I got past that I got my water warmed to 150 degrees and got the grains steeping. After about a half hour, I removed the grains and added my extract. Like I said in a previous blog, I like a combination of grains and extract, though now I will make sure to use DME and not LME, as the liquid stuff is very sticky. After that was all mixed in, I started the boil and my hop schedule. 

Hops schedules are simple once you have them down and measure out what you need as you wait for the boil. Most recipes tell you when in the hour boil to add the hops or other ingredients. Follow the steps carefully, as hops schedules are important to get the right bitterness or the floral smell and taste of the hops. Other ingredients can be added for other flavors, or to adjust the look or feel of the beer later (like Irish Moss or Lactose). 

After the hop schedule, you need to cool the wort (what you currently have with water, sugar and flavor from the grains, and hops). If you have one get a wort chiller (thanks in-laws) to cool the wort to 80 degrees. If you don’t have one, get one or make one. If you can’t get your hands on one, good luck, because you will need to put your pot in an ice bath that could take an hour while my wort chiller cooled it in 15 minutes. I needed help here because I wasn’t allowed to lift anything more than ten pounds after my appendix removal. My wife picked up my pot and moved it outside to chill (thanks wife). My wort chiller attaches to an outside hose so I put it in and let the water flow.

As that chilled, I prepared the yeast. I use dry yeast that needs to be mixed with water. Once the wort hit 80 degrees, my wife carried it inside and poured it into the fermenter bucket (thanks wife again). I added a little more water to get it where I needed it to be and then added the yeast.  Then I put on the lid and the bubbler and left it downstairs to ferment. All in all, it took three hours to make three gallons of beer (I do three as I am usually the only one that drinks them at home). 

That was day one. After this we will rerack and add in the secondary stage ingredients. If you are interested in this recipe, I will do a blog on it soon…I promise. The Dude is a regular beer I make and would love to share it. If you are interested in home brewing, now is a great time to try it. As you see, the hardest part only takes three hours. After this, it is a lot of waiting and simple reracking. If you need supplies, check around. Most brewing supply stores will ship still or you can try Amazon. Kits are easy to try and get your feet wet in brewing as well. Until next time…cheers!

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Home Brewing: Day One

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