Sunday, January 23, 2011

All Grain Brewing, Lautering

I decided to leave the simpler world of extract brewing and leaped into all-grain brewing with Igloo ice cooler and boil kettle at the ready! After completing the extract brew and performing a lot of research on all-grain brewing, I realized that all-grain brewing really is not that much more difficult than extract brewing, which essentially involves one extra process called lautering. The lautering process requires almost twice the amount of time compared to extract brewing. The biggest issue with all-grain brewing is the time commitment, and a little more monetary investment for the extra equipment needed. For an example, my first extract brew took about 6 hours (3 hours for two people) and the my first all-grain brew took about 10 1/2 hours total labor hours.

So what's the benefit to brewing an all-grain beer as opposed to extract? Better Beer! The ingredients for all-grain is also less expensive, which helps to off-set the equipment costs involved in lautering. My first extract beer cost about $60 to make 4.5 gallons and the all-grain was $40 for 4.5 gallons (I was shooting for 5 gallons in both of these brews), which resulted in a savings of 33%. The savings are actually a bit more if I were to compare "apples-to-apples". (My extract beer was a pale ale, but my all-grain was an IPA requiring a larger amount of grain and hops - so my actual savings were probably 50%.)

I won't go into the steps involved in mashing, but I will say that I followed the instructions for building a mash tun (a step involved in lautering) and the instructions for "batch sparging" on this website - "Denny's Cheap 'n' Easy Batch Sparge Brewing" as well as advice from Mike Hess of Hess Brewing. Thanks to the WestCoaster magazine/blog I stumbled across Home Brews & Gardens which is a good little home brew store in North Park - very friendly and reasonable prices where I bought all my grain, hops and yeast for this brew. I formulated my recipe on Hopville - a great online community of homebrewers with an excellent, easy to use calculator tool for formulating recipes.

My Igloo cooler doesn't seem to be the best way mash tun since the drain hole sits a couple inches off the bottom of the cooler, which made draining the wort from the mash tun a very slow process. I was able to borrow an immersion chiller from a friend, which helped speed up the cooling process, although I did have to place the wort in an ice bath to cool it down further. So far the wort has been tasting very good - good bitterness and hoppiness, so despite some faux pas during the mashing process that most homebrewers would probably freak out about, the beer seems to be turning out quite nicely. I named this IPA the "Chizzam!".

 14 lbs of 2-row barley and specialty grains!
Mash tun/Kettle set up

Grain and water added to mash tun - hit target temp of 152!
  Stirring the mash
 Still stirring mash
 My assistant!
 Grain bed after draining the mash and batch sparging

 Waiting for 6 gallons of wort to boil
 Still waiting for it to boil (took about 20 minutes to bring it to boil)
 Cooling the wort with an immersion chiller.
My beautiful assistant sanitizing the primary fermenter.
 I had to place the wort in an ice bath to cool it down since the water running through the immersion chiller was about 75 (still too warm to bring it down the 68 I was targeting)
 Wort is in the primary fermenter!

 Wort after 1 day of fermenting - great fermenting activity on this one!
The fermenting finished in 3 days and settled out.
I racked the wort to a secondary fermenter, since it fermented so quickly and I still had several days before I had time to bottle - this helped the wort clear even more.
 Wort racked to secondary
 And finally the bottled Chizzam IPA!
Of course I was enjoying my first home brew during this time too!

Friday, January 21, 2011

First brew cracked open and All-grain IPA racked to secondary!

I cracked open the extract "1844" pale ale last night at 7 days in the bottle and it tasted pretty good for my first extract - a little dry and crisp. I'm looking forward to tasting it at 14 days - should be darn good.

I racked my first all-grain brew (IPA) to the secondary last night, just to help clarify it a bit. I'll be bottling it on Saturday - it'll be ready for Super Bowl Sunday! I'll have a post soon on how the first all-grain brew went.

Hess Brewing & West Coaster at South Park Abbey

Hess Brewing will have some great brews on tap at the South Park Abbey tonight at 6pm! Should be an awesome time, hope to see you there!

Friday, January 14, 2011

"1844" Pale Ale

Welcome to the first post on the Chism (Home) Brewing blog! I (Curtis) live in South Park (San Diego, CA) and have just begun home brewing and I have a great assistant - My wife (Liz). Please join me in my home brewing journey!

The first batch was a "West Coast Pale Ale" dry malt extract brew. The basic ingredients came from Ballast Point Home Brew Mart. I decided to keep it simple for my first brew before moving on to more advanced brewing techniques. Fortunately I've been getting a lot of good advice from various online sources, Charles Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" and a friend and local nano-brewer - Mike Hess (Hess Brewing), that has really helped me get a jump start on home brewing. You should definitely check out Hess' tasting room and try some of his incredible beers!

I started out with some basic equipment that my wife got me for Christmas, which included a glass carboy, plastic bottling bucket (or secondary fermentor), and associated simple equipment to get me started. I found a $60 turkey fryer at Home Depot that included a 7 1/2 gallon aluminum pot. I've been advised that the aluminum makes no difference in the taste and it's been proven there is no connection to alzheimers.

Here is the basic process along with my observations:
Batch size: 4.5 gallons, 4.8% ABV (ultimately filled (2) growlers, (5) 24oz bottles, and (28) 12oz bottles

Ingredients: Yeast - Dry Ale Yeast E491 Fermentis - Safale US-05 (11.5g)
Ahtunum Pellet Hops
Dried Malt Extract Coopers Plain Light
Dried Malt Extract Munton Amber

Initial Brewing Procedure: Boiled 2 gallons of wort and 1.5 oz hops for 60 minutes; added .5 oz hops for last 1 min 15 sec of boil. I had trouble at first keeping the head down because I had the heat turned up too high; once I got the regulator figured out, I could control the heat and keep the wort at a lower boil. I noticed that about 1 gallon boiled off. Cooled in ice bath to 70 degrees (took about 15-20 minutes to cool); added 3 1/2 gallons of water (64 degrees) to glass carboy, then strained wort into carboy. I didn't make a mark at 5 gallons prior to pouring all the liquids in so I had to guess at the amount of total water. I chose to reduce the batch to approx. 4.5 gallons to boost the OG, and hopefully the alcohol content.

Further Observations during Fermenting Stage:
(Day 1) - No fermentation observed after about 9 hours, but I did notice one air bubble in the air lock. I moved the carboy to a warmer room to try to get the wort temp up to activate the yeast. The yeast appears to be sitting on the bottom of the carboy at this point.
(Day 6) - Noticed that visible fermentation ceased and krausen began to subside and settle into wort.
(Day 7) - checked gravity reading - 1.016
(Day 8) - checked gravity reading - 1.016
(Day 9) - bottled beer

Bottling Procedures: Prior to bottling, I had to clean and remove labels from all the beer bottles I collected. This involved several days of soaking bottles overnight in a bleach solution and scrubbing the inside and outside of the bottles to get all the bacteria out of the inside and the labels off the outside. This was a labor intensive process; I'll look into a bottle cleaning attachment for my sink soon. Then prior to bottling, I sanitized the bottles again with Star-San (the bottles sat for a couple days after soaking in bleach).

The bottling process itself took about an hour and was actually very fun and a rewarding cap to the whole brewing process! I siphoned the beer from the glass carboy into a plastic bottling bucket, added 3/4 cup priming sugar. Then I just put the tubing in a growler, and opened the valve and the beer started flowing. I used the clip on the end of the tubing to control the flow of the beer into the growlers and bottles. My wife and I took turns filling bottles and capping bottles. The clean up took about another hour and we finished the night by drinking a couple of Big Sky stouts at Hamilton's (just 3 blocks away from where I live)!

And now, the pictures!

Ingredients and equipment laid out and ready to brew

My boil kettle set up (turkey fryer)

Adding the dried malt dextract (DME)

Stirring in DME (removed kettle from burner)

Ahtunum hops

Stirring the wort

We took turns stirring the wort (it boils for an hour - that's a lot of stirring)

Wort boiling away

Kettle/Wort placed in ice bath to cool (I placed it in cold water first to reduce the initial heat and thermal shock, which allowed the ice to last longer)

Wort strained into glass carboy (fermentor) and air locked.

Wort after 1 day of fermenting

Bottling set up - siphoned flat beer into bottling bucket

Filled growlers/bottles from bottling bucket

Filling up a growler!

Siphoning the beer into the growler/bottles

Capping the bottles

Capping the bottles

Beer is bottled!

Beer is bottled!