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.