On Sunday we made our very first beer - A Red Ale (we are starting out simple for the first batch)! Instead of taking the plunge into brewing we are simply dipping our toes in the water. We hope that this is the first of much to come through.
As a beer enthusiast, we figured it would be a good idea to dig deep and understand beer on an elemental level. Brewing is a good way to accomplish this goal. Being someone who has enjoyed and understood baking at its basics, it seemed that beer was worth a try.
When beer is stripped down to its basics, it is composed of water, barley, hops and yeast.
When it comes to home brewing, most of the process can be conducted on the stovetop. After sterilizing EVERYTHING (and we mean EVERYTHING!) we were able to start.
Using a 5-gallon stainless steel pot, we brought 3 gallons to a boil. This part took quite awhile with a small burner. Once the water reached a boil, the burner was turned off the barley was added for color and taste. This is no different the steeping a tea bag.
We added our malt grains to a cloth bag and let it steep in the water for twenty minutes. Depending on the recipe, some beers call for the actual malt grain or its liquid form, which resembles molasses. This recipe called for both. After the spent grains were removed from the water, the pot was brought back to a boil. When this occurred again, the burner was shut off and the liquid malt added. This recipe called for a light and dark malt. They are both stirred into the mixture until they are fully dissolved. At this point the pot color seems to resemble the final product.
After the solution has reached a rolling boil, we added one ounce of hops. While hops are not necessarily required to make beer, it is what the consumer is accustomed to. Garrett Oliver the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery wrote in The Brewmaster’s Table: “not only does it lead natural preservative qualities to the finished beer, but it also provides bitterness and a range of flavors and aromas.” Oliver continues to explain that as a “spice” in the beer, over the centuries it has replaced bog myrtle, yarrow, myrrh, rosemary, wormwood, woodruff, ginger and licorice. (Fun Fact: the hop plant is the closest relative to the Cannabis plant).
After a period of time steeping the hops, the liquid is now removed from the heat to cool to a temperature below 90 degrees ferinheight. To accomplish this goal, the beer is placed in the ice bath in the sink.
There are only two more steps to go here!
The cool liquid, now called wort is placed in the fermenter. Once in the fermenter the yeast is added. This is where the beer will start to come to life. All the sugars that were added to the mixture via the malt will become the banquet for the yeast. The cap is placed on the fermenter and put in a corner of our kitchen.
The wort will need to ferment for at least one week before it can be bottled. Check back soon to see our progress!