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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Home Brew Attempt #2

The Blog made another attempt at home brewing this past weekend. We also dry-hopped the first IPA.
Our home brew plan is to get the basic execution down before getting all fancy with the recipes and techniques. So for our second batch we decided to stick with the same extract recipe and just work on making it right. Simple right? Follow the same recipe, but…
So the Blog is using Beer Tools to track and calculate recipes.  For our first recipe, we found a basic IPA recipe and replaced the traditional Simcoe and Cascade with the New Zealand varieties of Pacific Gem and Pacifica, which had similar bittering units. However, somewhere along the way I wrote down or misread the amounts. The total IBU or bitterness for the first recipe we made is 114. Pliny, which is a DOUBLE IPA, has an IBU of 100. So our first batch is going to be crazy hoppy, but probably lacking the correct amount of malt balance.
We balanced the hop amounts using the Beer Tool calculator and got a more traditional IPA IBU of 50.
So with our corrected recipe we went to Brew Ferment Distill (BFD) for supplies. We picked up our ingredients, an extra air lock, and another hydrometer. I dropped and broke the hydrometer during the first attempt. The extra airlock will be used for the second fermenter where we will be dry-hopping.
The 5 gallon pot

During our first attempt we used a converted keg as a kettle and a big propane burner for heat. This turned out to be hard to manage and unnecessarily big. We only need to boil 3 gallons, but the keg is close to 15. We had difficultly managing the heat on the burner. So, I found buried in my mom’s garage an old 5 gallon cooking pot that hadn’t been used in probably 30 years. We cleaned it thoroughly and sanitized using the dishwasher with no detergent.

The reason we only need a 5 gallon pot to make a 5 gallon batch, is that you only brew a portion of the final volume. So for a 5 gallon batch you make the wort with 3 gallons of water. You add the remaining water at the end. This technique is used for extract brews, all-grain recipes are different.
Siphoning the beer 
We pitched the yeast with warm water and sanitized all the equipment with iodine.
The brewing went pretty smoothly.  Using the pot on the stove was a lot easier to handle. We added the extract, steeped the grains at the correct temp of 150 degrees, and added the hops at the right time.

We brought the wort outside to chill it with our copper wort chiller. We covered the pot with foil so nothing would fall in. Everything went smooth and quicker than the first attempt, but it still took a bit longer than we wanted. We did not boil the 2 gallons of water we needed to add to the wort until the end, which added sometime.
Adding the dry hops
We did we took the initial gravity which was right on target for our recipe. The initial gravity and ending gravity are used to calculate ABV.
While we brewed we dry-hopped our first batch. Dry hopping just refers to adding hops when the wort is no longer cooking. Dry-hopping adds more hop flavor to a beer. The process is fairly simple. Put your hop pellets into the second fermenter and siphon the batch from the first fermenter to the second. Don’t splash the wort too much. Moving the wort between fermenters also allows you to remove the dead yeast and fallen hops that sit at the bottom of the first fermenter.

Dry Hopping
In our case, this yeast and hop sludge at the bottom sat against the spigot in the first fermenter so we had to siphon from the top. We had a nice siphon pump that allowed for easy transfer. The dry hops floated to the top.  It was also at this point that we tasted the wort. The big IBU was evident, but it wasn’t horrible. There could still be hope.
After filling up the second fermenter we topped it off with a plug an air-lock filled with vodka. The vodka keeps it sanitary, but water is fine. I just had really crappy vodka I wanted to get rid of.
So overall everything went smoothly, I guess we won’t know for sure until we drink the beer. Our next goal is to cut down on the time by being more efficient.

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