After cutting our teeth on several extract and mini-mash brews, we decided to take the plunge into all-grain brewing.
What the heck does that mean?
When you brew beer, you need four things: grains, water, yeast, and hops. Up until the late 1500’s, they didn’t even have hops, so they threw in whatever they came across to spice up their beer.
Extract and mini-mash are the two easiest ways to brew. In both cases, the hard work of turning the grains into fermentable sugars is already done for you at a factory. This makes things quick and fairly consistent, but it doesn’t let you really experiment.
We decided that the best way to grow in our brewing would be to step up our gear and our skill.
New 40 qt stockpot to handle the extra volume
A mash tun fashioned from a Rubbermaid water cooler, mesh tubing, and way too many plumbing parts
Propane tank and burner to bring the wort up to boil quicker (and move outside so Angela isn’t boiled out of the house!)
Used a turkey fryer burner and a new 40qt stew pot
Rubbermaid 10gal cooler converted into our mash tun. Close up of our manifold (which filters out the grain)
I love coffee just as much as I love beer. Combine the two, and I can’t help but love it more.
You can sleep when you're dead!
After a night tasting Real Ale’s Coffee Porter at Ginger Man, Rick, Ethan and I decided we had to give it a go on our own. We found a recipe online for an Espresso Imperial Stout and started brewing…..coffee. Lots of coffee. 1.5 gallons of coffee, to be exact! With a 12 cup coffee maker, that’s almost 3 pots of coffee!
The results: pretty tasty! We finished brewing back in early November, and the flavor is really starting to come out of it now.
Hops, the little flowers that help make beer so tasty
After weeks of not-so-subtle hints, Rick convinced Ethan and I to do an IPA next. While the overall process was similar, the dry-hopping stage was a fun addition. The conditioning is far longer than the other beers we did, and it’s just now to the drinking phase. In the past, I haven’t been an IPA fan – it gave me headaches and I didn’t enjoy the extra hoppiness. However, after acclimating ourselves with some very tasty IPAs prior to trying ours, I’m a convert!
During beer nights, we’ve also started the tradition of playing Settlers and having beer tastings. Angela and Brittany avoid our craziness by watching Doctor Who (which is an amazing show, by the way!).
I’ll be starting a new series of postings where I write about our beer night tastings (what?!? Andy is going to post on a regular basis again?) I also added a new page for our Brewing Log so you can see what beers are coming up.
Just a quick post today. I’ll continue to update it throughout the week as the 2nd fermentation continues.
Last night, we transferred our baby beer into the carboy where it will live until next Monday, when we bottle.
I love beer. That’s really the only motivating factor to this endeavor.
My friends Dave and Kent have been homebrewing for years, but I have only been talking about it and enjoying their tasty brews. Last weekend, Ethan and Rick finally kicked my butt into gear and we actually acted on one of the many crazy schemes we’ve concocted.
Saturday was shopping day. We went to Fort Worth Homebrew, on the east side of Fort Worth. It’s a fun, family-run establishment, and the folks there are very helpful. We even got to sample some of their homebrews (the smoked beer was delicious!). After stocking up on a mid-sized brewing kit, we selected a recipe for Belgium Pale Ale. We opted for the malt extract since it’s our first time. After this, we patted ourselves on the backs and capped the afternoon off by watching District 9 – an excellent film full of most of the Half-life 2 weapons.
We met up Monday night to start brewing. Suffice it to say, it was a very easy process. After hearing lots of warnings, we decided to overly sterilize everything. Since I was with Ethan and Rick, but bio-sciences guys, we stuck to the protocol, erm.. recipe to the very last detail. In fact, our specific gravity was only 1/1000th off from the baseline.
We aren’t sure yet! We’re transferring over to the carboy next Monday for the 2nd fermentation, and then over to bottles a week after that. Finally, we’ll let it age for three weeks before we get to see how we did.
However, we at least know it’s bubbling away in the bucket right now!