Friday, November 6, 2009

Local Beer... well sort of

I decided that I wanted to give beer brewing a try. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Chris came over and helped me brew my first batch of beer. Chris has been brewing beer for years so he let me borrow all of the necessary equipment. All I needed to do was buy a kit with the necessary ingredient. I went to the Home Brew Emporium in West Boylston and bought a "Brewers Best Robust Porter" kit. It included: Instructions, 2 cans of Malt Extract, a bag of sugar, yeast, 2 packets of hops (Cluster bittering hops and Willamette flavoring hops), a 1lb bag of mixed grains (crushed crystal malt, black patent malt and chocolate malt), a mesh bag for steeping the grains, and 60 bottle caps.
The way you brew beer is first you steep the grains in a giant pot of water. We used a digital thermometer to make sure the steep was between 160 and 170 F for a hlaf an hour.
Then we removed the steeping bag, raised the temperature to poinling and threw in the bittering hops. After 50 minutes, we added the flavoring hops and the the two cans of Malt Extract. The instructions say to add the Malt when you start the boil, but Chris said that increases the risk of burning the sugars.

After another 10 minutes, we removed the pot from and then used a copper coil to rapidly cool the "wort" (which is what the mixture is called at this point).

Once the mixture gets down to around 120 F, we poured it through a filtering funnel to into a 6.5 gallon carboy (a big glass jug that looks like a watercooler bottle). We filled the carboy up to the 5 gallon mark with cool water (lowering the temp to under 90 F) and then "pitched" in the yeast. We then capped the carboy with a special cap that allowed the yeast to blow off the inital foam that is created from the initial carbonation.

Six days later, I siphoned carboy into a 5 gallon bucket and mixed in the remaining sugars. From this 5 gallon bucket, I bottled the beer. The day I bottled the beer I made a "Holiday Ale" with my own concoction: 1lb of Crystal Malt, 2 packets of Mt. Hood Hops, 2 cans of extra light malt, cinnamon sticks, ground nutmeg, and honey for the finishing sugars. They are both bottled and should be aged enough for drinking by the week of thanksgiving.

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