I’ve been busy, and haven’t really gotten a chance to review my first batch of beer. Overall it turned out really well, and I was extremely happen. First, I’m going to talk about how I’m going to review this beer as well as other beers that I brew. I’m not going to be as detailed as some descriptions on beer advocates.
How I’ll review:
Taste - This is the big factor to me and should be for everyone. I could care less if a beer was green, brown, or pink. If it tastes good, I’ll drink it. Possible total: 14 points. This is the stat that has the most “wiggle room”.
Color/Clarity - This is just an bonus. A good nice beer color just feels right even if its not needed. Possible total: 10 points, most beers should get at least 5-8 points here.
Smell - It’s debatable if smell actually affects taste or not. I’d say yes, and I don’t really care if it doesn’t. Possible total: 10 points, most beers should get at least a 3-5.
Drinkability - This is probably a trademarked phrase to Anheuser Busch, but they were on to something I think. Some beers are just dessert beers where you only want 1-3 of them before you’ve had to much or they are too sweet. Some beers are just too filling. This stat I’ll just rate how many beers you can easily have (if theres a limit). Possible total: 3 points, because this isn’t that important to the overall score it only counts for 3 points.
Ease - I’ll just rate if the kit was ease or not. 3 points, because this isn’t that important to the overall score it only counts for 3 points. It’s either easy, medium, or hard…
Cost/Value - I’ll rate if the kit cost was appropriate for the beer. Possible total: 10 points, drinking cheap good tasting beer is why I started homebrewing to begin with. If I have to spend over a hundred dollars for ingredients, then it better it better include plane tickets for October fest in Germany.
Then I’ll have a an overall score. I figure it will be appropriate to rate beers on 1 to 50 (beers instead of stars). Read more for my review of North Rim Wheat
Racking & Bottling
Today I bottled my beer. It wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be especially cleaning everything up afterwards, anyway lets get into what I used and how I did it.
First what I used:
If you actually are following what I’m doing and look at the above picture you’ll notice I only have 43 beers out. I messed up, I was trying to be a little creative on my last 9 beers. I started boiling some fresh strawberries in 8oz of water and mashing them to attempt to create some strawberry wheat beer. A big strawberry somehow got itself stuck in my bucket’s spigot to the point I had to try using my racking cane again and when I tried to start re-siphoning I lifted my tube up too high, pouring a few oz. of sanitized water in my beer. I could have let it go and drank this, but since this is essentially something very similar to chlorox and water I decided to take the 5 bottle loss.
North Rim Wheat
Thanks everyone who actually reads this. I’ll let you know how it turns out in about 12 days.
Original Gravity: 1.044
After 8 Days
Current Gravity: 1.009
Current Alcohol by Volume: 4.7%
Original Gravity: 1.044
After 7 Days
Current Gravity: 1.0099
Current Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%
Creating Wort and Fermenting
Today was the big day, I brewed my first batch of wort and began fermenting. Lets start talking about what I did. The only thing I’m not really going to talk about is sanitizing. I’ve talked about this in almost every other post. I’ll simply say “put in your sanitized bucket” etc.
Step 1: Fill a muslin bag with the specialty grains. Then fill your brew pot with 2.5 gallons of water. Add your specialty grain bag to the water. The goal is to remove it just before it boils. I was aiming for 200 degrees.
Step 2: Turn off the heat and add the malt extract. I was using liquid extract, but I wouldn’t dare call it liquid it was the thickest syrup I’ve ever came into contact with. You want to bring this to a boil. *Caution: This is where boil overs can occur. I only almost had 1 boil over, and I should remind you I was using a 30 quart pot with only about 12 quarts of liquid in it. Avoid boil overs by stirring when the wort begins to foam up.
Step 3: After the boil begins, add your “bittering” hops. Then you’ll want to boil this wort for 60 minutes straight, only stirring to avoid boil overs. When you at minute 55 you’ll add your finishing hops.
(This is where I got lazy with the camera, I don’t have too many pictures of these next steps)
Step 4: Once you’re done boiling you’ll want to cool your wort as quickly as possible. I put my brew pot in a keg tub of ice cold water. This quickly brought my temperature down from 212 to 90 degrees within 10 minutes.
Step 5: Pour 2.5 gallons in your sanitized fermenting bucket. The colder the water the better so you don’t have to worry about cooling your wort as bad.
Step 6: Pour your wort into you fermenting bucket with the cold water. Add your brewing yeast and stir with a sanitized spoon.
Step 7: Secure your sanitized lid on your bucket and shake or rock your fermenting bucket for about 5 minutes which will allow the yeast to start activating.
Step 8: Take the lid back off, and either a) use your sanitized hydrometer and put it in your fermenting bucket and get a reading or b) extract a sample (about 8 oz) of your wort with a sanitized glass or measuring cup. Try not to touch the wort with your bare hands. Then you’ll put this sample in a test tube and use a hydrometer to get a reading. If you did step b it saves time in the future because you can pour this sample into a beer bottle and put a paper towel in the neck of the bottle. This bottle will still ferment and since we aren’t worried about getting bacteria, we don’t have to sanitize our hydrometer every time we want a reading. This is also the way we will test to see when our beer is done fermenting, but I’ll come back to this in a second.
Step 9: Put the lid back on the fermenting bucket, and put the sanitized airlock that’s half full with sanitized water in the opening in the bucket. Put the bucket in a fairly warm place (60 to 70 degrees). Different beers require different temperatures, but most ales do well in this range. Fermenting will begin in about a day and will continue for 4 to 7 days. The cooler the temperature the longer it will take.
Step 10: You’re essentially done at this point. You might be asking how do I know when my beer is done fermenting? And this is where we come back to the taking readings from our hydrometer. After about 5 to 7 days of fermenting you’ll want to start taking readings and recording them. If the readings stay the same for 2 days in a row, then fermenting is complete. If you’re not 100% sure then let it sit for another day and try again. To determine alcohol percentage, you’ll want to record the results on the first day and subtract it from the final alcohol percentage.
Step 11: This isn’t actually a step, but I suggest that you clean your brew pot immediately after store your fermenting bucket. The longer you let it sit, the harder it will be to clean.
Finishing Notes: Overall this was a great experience and I’d say if you like beer in any way then you should try it at least once. I also recommend that you have someone to help you. If my fiance wasn’t around it would have been tough to do alone for the first time. If you’re wondering, my beer should turn out to be between a 4.4-5.1% alcohol (I originally messed up my calculations). It was nice to brew outside on a nice day… My next post (in about a week) I’ll talk about bottling.
Today I’m going to brew my first batch of beer. I originally wanted to film everything and upload a video demonstrating how to home brew. I think it will be easier on me (being that I’m still learning myself) to just take pictures and talk about each step. So here we go:
You’ll want to prepare everything you’ll need for the first 2 steps of the brewing process: creating wort and fermenting. Also you’ll need your ingredients.
I wish removing labels was as easy as cleaning… If you’re removing labels, you’ll want to do that before you start cleaning the bottles. Cleaning all you do is use a good soap that doesn’t leave a strong odor or taste. This is pretty common across dish soaps to not be able to taste anything in cups or glasses. I read online that oxy-clean (R.I.P. Billy Mays) is one of the better cleaners, so I was using a dish soap that had oxy-clean in it. You then just use soapy water and a bottle brush and use the brush inside the bottle especially at the bottom of the bottle where sediment lies. Once you’ve cleaned the bottle, fill the bottle then I shake the excess water out so that anything remaining doesn’t stick to the neck. Then I fill the bottle to the top once again, and dump it out and place the bottle upside down to dry. Pretty simple stuff.
Now the hard part, removing the labels…
What starts off as:
Quickly turns into a nightmare when trying to remove the labels.
If you wanted to make a bare bone equipment check list you would be looking for 4 basic things a stock-pot or a brew pot, something to ferment in, something to prepare for bottling, and actual bottles or a kegging system.
Continue reading for more information on the equipment required for home brewing.
People start brewing their own beer for a variety of different reasons. I started looking into brewing my own beer to have great tasting beer that seasonal beers only offer a few months of the year, and most of the time these beers are rather expensive. I have spent the last few weeks trying to understand the steps involved in home brewing. I now have a better understanding that there are four major ingredients in a beer: grain, water, yeast, and hops.
Continue reading for more information on the ingredients in beer.