Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Brew!

I finally did it.  After months of procrastination and laziness, I brewed my first batch.  I was intitially planning on brewing the Austin Homebrew Supply Imperial IPA, but the instructions recommended a yeast starter.  I was ready to roll and did not have the patience (or knowledge) to make a yeast starter so I opted for the AHS Anniversary Amber.  This choice turns out to be smarter for a beginner because it has less ingredients and steps to completion. 

Enough about the beer.  Let's talk brewing.  The process started off very smoothly.  I prepped all equipment by washing and sanitizing, let everything air dry, and started heating 2 gallons of water as the directions called out.  My confidence was growing.  "You got this dawg," I said to myself.  "All I have to do is keep an eye on the temperature of the water.  Its been on the stove for a few minutes now, let me check the temperature with my... where the frick is my thermometer?"  What kind of an idiot tries to heat water to 155 degrees without a thermometer?  *raises hand*.  Luckily I realize the missing equipment early enough to run  to the piggly wiggly and pick one up.  I get back from the grocery, rip off the packaging, give the thermo a quick dip in the sanitizer and plop it in the water... 150.  Perfect!  Disaster averted.  A few more minutes on the burner and this bad boy is ready to rock.

Ok, the water is heated.  Next step is to steep the grain that AHS was nice enough to crush and put in a nylon bag.  Just like making a large pot of awesome tea.  This step goes smoothly.  Any moron can make tea.

After a long tea-bagging session, I bring the liquid to a boil then remove from heat and add 7lbs of the malt extract.  This stuff was very thick and syrupy.  Spilled a good bit on the hot burner which produced a rather unpleasant smell in the house.  Wife not happy.

Ok, so now I boil, add hops, keep boiling, add more hops, disconnect fire alarm cause its gettin steamy in this piece, keep boiling and then...

Chill B.  Remember the picture of the wort chiller I posted a few weeks back?  Well, I didn't use it cause I didn't want to go outside and hook it up to a hose.  So I opted for the old fashioned put the pot in the sink and run cold water method.  It worked ok.  I managed to splash a good bit of dirty sink water into the wort.  Sanitation is for p*ssies.  Random strains of bacteria add flavor.  Once the wort is chilled to 80, I added clean water to make 5 1/4 gallons.  I eyeballed it.  Close enough.  Now you may notice that my attention to detail is waning a bit.  The answer why is two-fold.  The first reason is... I'm gettin a lil crunk.  I am about 2-3 hours in at this point, and everybody in this club is getting tipsy.  The second, and more prominent, reason is that the kitchen looks like ground zero and my wife is lightly sleeping in the bedroom.  If she witnesses what I have done to the kitchen I will be banished from the house.  So I made an executive decision that some slight off-flavors in my beer is a better alternative than divorce, and cut a few corners. 

All right!  Specific gravity time.  For all you brewing nubs out there, measuring the gravity of the wort tells you how dense the liquid is.  Sugar and other stuff in the water raises density.  To measure this we professionals use what is called a hydrometer.  I'll touch on this in more detail at a later date.  So I add some wort to my little cylinder.  Ideally I would have preferred to use a sanitized turkey baster, but since I didnt even think to have a thermometer on hand the turkey baster was a no go.  I used the next best thing, my hand.  I was careful not to touch the wort, but I may have scraped a knuckle or two.  So I drop in my hydrometer and my reading the hell do u read this thing.  Oh wait, its upside down.  1.072??? WTF I'm shooting for 1.051.  I add some water and measure around 1.06.  Its getting late at this point and I need to transfer to the fermenter and start cleaning.  I splash in some more water, give it a stir and don't even bother to take a third reading.  Close enough. 

Here is where it gets fun.  The wort is already sitting in my plastic bucket fermenter.  I want it in my glass carboy so I can watch all the action.  I have a siphon kit but I dont know how to use it yet so I devise a genius plan to transfer the wort.  I make a homemade funnel out of a plastic cup.  The bottom of the cup was flat and I drilled a hole in it.  Mensa.  I cut the top off a gallon milk jug and proceed to fill up the jug and pour it into my precariously perched homemade funnel... disaster.  I just spilled about a pint of delicious unfermented beer on the floor.  If my wife sees this I'm finished.  My life would be forfeit.  You would learn of my fate on the next episode of Snapped! (her favorite show...yikes!)  Panic stricken, I search the kitchen for an alternative plan.  Bingo!  An empty Fresca 2 liter.  I grab the bottle and begin frantically cutting it in half, all while thinking "Who the hell drinks Fresca?"  I jam the top half of the bottle into the mouth of the carboy and it's a perfect fit.  At this point I am racing to finish.  I am filling the jug as fast as I can, wrist deep in the wort.  I don't care if it tastes as bad as, well Fresca, I need to start cleaning.  Once as much liquid has been transferred as possible, I shake up the yeast and add it to the carboy, shake it around, and carry it to my fermentation room.  And that, my friends, is where it currently sits.  I took some pics.   
24 Hours in.  Look at that kraeusen.  Yum

Sideways view.  What the heck's goin' on in there?

Ok.  If you made it through the wall of text I appreciate it.  And for the record my wife is an angel.  She would not really do any of the things I mentioned earlier (although Snapped! really is her favorite show.  Love you Boogie). 

I'll add some updates in a few days.
             Over and Out,


  1. That looks gross, I'll take a Fresca instead. I mean bravo, I applaud your brewing endeavors. PS- I just applied to Walden University and I'm patiently waiting to hear back, fingers crossed I get in!

    1. oh good. im friends with the dean. Ill put in a good word.