arts 10 Thursday, October 24, 2013
Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering se-nior Jake Devincenzi are Mus-tang News beer columnists.
The hardest part of anything is starting. Brewing beer is no exception. We talked for months about getting our brewing equipment until we finally researched every-thing we needed. Then, we made our way to Docs Cel-lar, the local hub for anything home-brew.
Docs has a pre-set starter kit with about everything you need to begin. In addition to the starter kit, we also bought a glass carboy, (which houses the beer during fermenta-tion), a 5-gallon pot and a pale ale starter recipe. The pot and carboy are necessary, and well delve into the recipe situation soon.
There are alternatives to Docs online, but if youre in SLO, its a great option as you dont have to pay for ship-ping, and they can answer any questions you may have.
When it comes to picking your recipe, there are basically three options: Use a base reci-pe from a place such as Docs or any online vendor, find a clone recipe online of any beer you know you like or, if youre feeling brave, make your own recipe from scratch.
We used the pale ale recipe from Docs our first time brew-ing. Long story short, it was our first time brewing and it was aw-
ful. It tasted like watered-down crap, or what we imagine that would taste like. It was great watching most of our friends and family trying to tell us it wasnt bad, but we knew better.
Now, it was our fault, not the recipes. We made multiple mistakes through the process to get to that point. However, we tend to stay away from pre-made recipes, favoring the clone recipes which can easily be found online. We highly rec-ommend this method, as you can have an idea of exactly what your beer should taste like. Its easy to obtain the contents of the recipe at Docs, where we walk in, tell them what they need and they put it together for us. Another benefit of this is having a reference point, as youll be able to taste the differ-ence between your beer and the one you attempted to copy. Its a great way to gauge your skill (or lack of) as a brewer. This is the way we learned what we needed to improve on and what we were doing well its a lot of trial and error at first.
Once youre confident in your brewing prowess, you can start making your own recipes. We began by tweak-ing recipes of clones, and even at this point, we only have one recipe we have made fully from scratch. This method is for the brave, but it can pay off. Its a very rewarding feeling to know you crafted something great.
Beginners guide to brewing
Much like any craft, brew-ing your own beer is half direction-following and half
ingenuity. And half funding. And half desire to consume copious amounts of alco-hol. Screw math. Basically, you could follow the best directions in the world, but without your own under-standing of the nuances of beer, your brews will taste like cardboard. Similarly, you could know all about beers secrets, but without the fundamentals of the brewing process, your beer probably wont even qualify as beer. Throughout this year, we hope to educate you about the subtleties of the beer world we have come to love, but for now, lets just go over the basics of the brew-ing process. Note that there are two types of brewing: all-grain and extract brewing. This will cover how to brew with liquid malt extract.
Sanitize your equipment
Brewing beer isnt the most difficult thing in the world. Your 8-year-old little sister could brew a batch on par with Coors Light if given a list of instructions and per-mission to use the stove. However, no matter how much you know, if your brew gets contaminated, it will taste like crap. Invest in some good sanitizing solution (we recommend Star San) and make a 5-gallon solution of it to sanitize all of your brew-ing equipment. (By the way, the correct ratio is 1 oz of Star San to 5 gallons of water ... We didnt know this our first time and, well, we dont give away any of that batch).
Steep your grains
Add approximately 2.5 to 3 gallons of water to a 5-gallon pot and bring it to between 145 degrees and 155 degrees. Oh, Jake and Nick, what if it gets out of that temperature range? NO! Brewing beer is not a spectator sport. Monitor the temperature of your wa-ter as you steep your grains. Please. Once you reach 150 degrees (yes, that is Fahren-heit, for the less scientifically-inclined), place your grains in a grain sock, tie off the top of a sock and set the sock in the water. Let them steep for 30 minutes, and be sure to moni-tor that temperature.
Extract addition and the boil
For anyone who enjoys craft beers, this is where things get exciting. The boil is where you get to add all the tasty ingredi-ents that will make your beer yours. Its also where hopheads like Jake get to enjoy the fresh aroma of natures air freshener. Once your 30-minute steeping is done, pour in your liquid malt extract (LME). As we noted ear-lier, there are two types of brew-ing: all-grain and extract. Basi-cally, extract brewing means the sugars of the grains have already been extracted into a caramel-like liquid, ready to be added to your wort (beer that has not been turned alcoholic).
As you pour in your LME, make sure your heat is turned off and you stir the LME so it does not burn. Failure to do so will result in burning. Remem-ber that first batch we brewed? We didnt have this tip It
tasted a little bit, shall we say, smokey.
Once the LME is mixed in, pump up the gas and bring your wort to a boil. This will take a while, so be patient. Bubbling means your wort is boiling and your boil time has started. Most boils last 60 minutes, and ingredients (hops, fruit, honey, etc.) are added at different times. Add your ingredients at the times denoted on the recipe, making note that the time is the time remaining, so 60-minute hops are added at the beginning, 15-minute hops are added 45 minutes in, and 0-minute hops are added as you turn off the heat (called flameout).
After any tough workout, its important to ice. Your beer is no different. Cover your wort and move it to an ice bath, or some other cooling area. We usu-ally use a 10-gallon garbage can, filled with an ice bath solution of 40 lbs of ice. Be sure to cover the wort to prevent contamina-tion. Leave the covered pot in the ice bath until the wort has reached 72 degrees. Note that the faster you cool your wort, the less chance it has to become contaminated. If you elect an option other than an ice bath, make sure it is quick.
Lets get alcoholic
Once your wort is properly cooled, you will need to transfer it to your fermenter. There are many methods to doing this, but we like to first transfer it to a bot-tling bucket, then use a funnel to
move it to the fermenter. Dont forget to sanitize everything.
After your wort is added to the fermenter, you will add what is called the top-up wa-ter. Add additional water until your mixture equals 5 gallons. Since some of your initial wa-ter will have evaporated in the boil, we recommend marking off a 5-gallon level on your fer-menter. After you reach 5 gal-lons, cover the fermenter with sanitized aluminum foil, then shake it vigorously for five minutes. This will oxygenate your wort. Why do you want to oxygenate your wort? We arent scientists, but we believe the scientific formula is sugar + oxygen + yeast = alcohol. Pitch your yeast into the fer-menter, add your air-lock, let it sit for 30 minutes, give it a couple spins to activate the yeast and place your fermen-ter in a dark room for primary and secondary fermentation.
Congratulations! You have brewed your first batch. There are a lot of factors that go into the fermentation process, but they are specific to each recipe. Do some re-search and look up the fol-lowing things for your spe-cific brew:
- Fermentation time
- Fermentation temperature
- Dry hopping
And do not worry, well talk about all of those in future columns.
green flash brewing company|san diego, calif.|double stout
alesmith brewing company|san diego, calif.|speedway stout
Its Guinness. Nuff said.
This stout is phenomenal. The first stout I ever enjoyed, Green Flash, delivers yet again with this 8.8 percent alcohol by volume behemoth. Notes of chocolate and honey, coupled with the sweet alcoholic yeast taste make for a great introductory stout, worthy of a nod from any beer snob.
I may be a NorCal native, but Ill admit that San Diego breweries make hella good beer. This stout is imperial, which is the classy way of saying contains a truck-ton of alcohol. It clocks in at more than 12 percent alcohol by volume, and will accompany any classy meal or fireside sitting.
samuel smith brewery|yorkshire, england|organic Chocolate stout
north coast brewing co.|fort bragG, calif.|old rasputin
clown shoes brew|ipswich, mass.|Porcine Unidragon
This may be the best-tasting set of recommendations Ive had so far. Th