Brewnotes for October 19, 2013

I have brewed beer several times as an assistant with friends who were quite experienced at brewing beer. Today was the first time home brewing on my own.

I had been wanting to do it for a long time, but living in a tiny apartment in Chicago, I couldn’t see how I could do it without making a huge fuss and getting in the way of everything.

Well, now that we moved out to the sticks and have a nice, big house all to our selves, I have plenty of room to make as much of a mess as I want (… well, mostly).

With Megan’s blessing, I went to the Brew and Grow store to invest in some beer brewing equipment. I got the basic kit and a few other “better if you do” accessories like the wort chiller. I also picked up a brew kit for an English Brown Ale.

This kit had all the ingredients and a step-by-step set of instructions to walk me through brewing my ale. This kit featured steeping grains, malt extracts, yeast and all the extra bits necessary for an easy brew.

First Boil
Wort boil.

For the most part, it went pretty well. I had one boil over when I was adding my first malt extract. I added it a bit too quickly and it boiled over really fast. I also had some trouble getting my burner to run consistently. I had to tinker with it a lot before it settled down to give an even, consistent heat. But once I got it dialed in, it sang. This thing could boil 5 gallons of water in 2 minutes if I let it run wide open. (It would consume the entire contents of my 20 lbs propane tank in that time, but hey…)

I ended up with about 3.5 gal after the boil and boil-over. I added water to get to just under 5 gallons with an OG reading of about 1.046, which is right on target for this kit.

In all my prep-work for doing this, I read a lot about the beer brewing process. Everything I read stressed the need for proper sanitation when dealing with the wort. This made me quite paranoid about sanitation. I think I did a good job sanitizing and keeping things clean, but you never know. The worse part is that it will be a month before I know if it turned out OK or not.

The wort is sitting in the basement right now in the primary fermentor. It hasn’t moved much, but it’s supposed to take a couple days to really get moving. Hopefully it will ferment with the good stuff and not the bad stuff. In a couple days I’ll move it to the secondary fermentor, then a couple weeks after that, into bottles.

It should be ready by Thanksgiving. If all goes well, we’ll have a very good Thanksgiving indeed!

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