I apologize for not getting the Augusta Festival update/review up today, it’s taking a bit more time than I originally thought but it’ll be up tomorrow. In the mean time I brewed a Belgian Dark Strong on Sunday so I thought I would run through a few pictures of that. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of homebrewing, this will also give you a quick overview.
One of the first things you do when you’re brewing all-grain is you have to weigh and crush grain. What you see above is my motorized mill sitting on top of a bucket crushing grain. The second image shows the crushed grain which is now ready for mashing.
From left to right are all of my tools in the mashing process. The first picture is all of the grain that I crushed mixed with about 160 degree water. Once I get the grain to a specific temperature (in this case 153, if you look really closely at the timer/thermometer on the window sill you can see I hit my mark) I let it sit for about an hour. Without getting at all scientific basically hot water+grain=sugar water. That big kettle (which I also use to boil the mash water with) is holding a lot of really hot water at this point in the process.
After the hour is up I take a small bit of what is now considered wort (pronounced wert) and pour it gently back on top of the mashed grains. The grains form a natural filter bed and the first few samples of beer I get have small particulate matter that I don’t want to be in my boil kettle.
After the beer has cleared up a bit and all of the particulate matter has ceased I then collect all of the sweet wort and pour it into my kettle for boiling. Boiling the wort accomplished a few things, one of the most important things it accomplishes is that it sterilizes the wort.
I’m now boiling the wort, the device you see above basically allows me to pour hops into the boil kettle and easily extract them later. Hops provide bitterness to balance the sweetness provided by the malt. They also help to keep the beer preserved for long periods.
In the first picture you can see my immersion chiller sticking out of the boil kettle. I need the chiller to be sterilized so I will place it in the kettle about 15 minutes before the end of the boil. Chilling the wort after the boil is very important, wild bacteria and yeasts love warm sugary places and the faster I can bring down the temperature the faster I can add (pitch) my yeast in.
What you see in the flasks above is the yeast that will be going into the beer. Yeast take the sugar in the wort and consume it, their byproducts are alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is important to add as much yeast as possible (but not too much) into your beer after cooling it. The more yeast you have the less likely a wild bacteria will infect the beer and give it an off-flavor.
About 12 hours (at least for me) after I’ve added the yeast to the wort they begin doing their job and fermenting. You’ll know they’re working when you have a thick layer of foam on top of your beer and it’s bubbling like mad. The metal tube sticking into my beer allows me to monitor the temperature and keep it at a steady 68 degrees in the refrigerator. In about 7-10 days my yeast will be done fermenting and I’ll have a beer that I could keg or bottle and drinking within another 10-14 days. But realistically this beer will probably sit for almost a year before it’s ready to drink.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to brew beer, but I didn’t think there was this much involved!” Well it doesn’t have to be this involved, the first few steps involving the grain have actually been done for you if you buy malt extract. By using malt extract you can just pour the extract into water, boil it, add your hops, cool it down and then add your yeast. What takes me about 6 hours to accomplish can be done in a few hours with malt extract.
If you have any questions about the process feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to ask.