Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adventures in Homebrewing - 5th Edition

As you may know, I began brewing my own beer almost a year ago. When I first got my brewing equipment, I probably brewed on average of once per month. I was really into it, even though a few of my batches weren't all that great. I picked up stuff to make two more batches in April, but the weather changed, school picked up, and I got too busy to brew. It also didn't help that I lived in a third floor apartment.

At the end of the summer, I formed my own homebrewer's club called Boston Brewin'. I figured this would get my ass in gear, and force me to brew. But, the weather was too damn hot to hang around a stove for a few hours. I also ended up moving in mid-September.

I ended up having some free time recently, so I figured it was time to finally brew. I stopped off at Stop & Shop to get some filtered water, as the filtration system attached to our refrigerator is as slow as the day is long. Nevertheless, buying the water was an inexpensive (at only $5 for 5 gallons), and quicker way to go...

So I've had an IPA kit for a while. I figured I would brew this one, as I haven't attempted any pale or India pale ales yet.

Some quick stats:

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
2 cans of Unhopped Muntons Amber Malt Extract
1lb of Crystal Grain
1 oz. Cascade Hops
1 oz. Chinook Hops
1/2 ounce of Heavy Toasted Oak Chips
1 packet of Muntons Ale Yeast

I typically brew with close to three gallons of water in my concentrated boil, though I never really measure it as I would fill up my kettle from the Britta filter. This time however, I decided to simply use one of the 2.5 gal jugs I got. About a half gallon more is added to the boil though, as I try to get every drop of liquid malt extract out of the containers they come in. Usually hot water and some stirring gets the last of it.

Well, I have to say that using a gas stove is where it's at! Don't get me wrong, if you have an electric stove that DOES NOT mean you can't brew your own beer. I thought it would be very hard to do on an electric stove, but that is not the case. It does take a bit longer to heat up the water initially, but once it's boiling it's boiling - so don't let that be a deterrent! Anyway, the gas stove was nice, and it took maybe 20 minutes or so to get the water to a rolling boil.

My only issue is that since moving, I have misplaced my list of instructions/ingredients for my kits. Fortunately, Beer and Wine Hobby has the same lists on their website, so I just brought it up to follow.

I'm always looking for ways to speed up the process of brewing. Typically I put the kettle in a batch of ice water to drop the temperature, but this time I changed it up a bit. I did put the pot in the sink, but I opted to add my other 2.5 gal jug of water to my primary fermentation tank, and then add the wort to the bucket.

This rapidly dropped the temperature, as the water had been sitting outside for a few hours in 45 degree air. This way, I was able to add the yeast much quicker, and get on with my night. Another new addition to this batch was the Toasted Oak Chips.

I simply steamed them for about 10 minutes, before adding them to the cooled wort.

It's always a good sign when you see bubbles in your airlock, which I found the next day when I came home from work.

I will be taking my first gravity reading today, to see if it is almost time to bottle. The temperature has been a bit low in my basement and in the house, so it might have to wait a few extra days. We shall see, but I will post an update when it's time to drink! I'm hoping it comes out alright.

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