Beer Basics, my way

Beer contains only 4 ingredients, water, sugar (usually derived from the starch in some grain), yeast and hops (the flower of a climbing vine.) Brewing beer (ales in my case, but just calling all home brew beer is a little easier) is really quite simple. Extract the sugar from the grain in hot water then boil the sugar water.  Add different varieties of hops at different times during the boil. Some impart bitterness, some flavor and some aroma. Once the specified time is complete chill the wort (yes, it is called wort at this point) quickly.Yesterday (Oct 5) I used my new home designed and made wort chiller for the first time.

 Basically, it is a long coil of copper tubing connected at both ends to flexible tubing. One end is connected to a pump which is immersed in ice water the other end is put into the drain. The hot mixture from the boiler is put into the sink and the cold water is pumped through the tubing.

The cooling time went from 20+ minutes to Dilute the mixture to the specified amount (in my case about 5 gallons.) Once it is cool enough that it won’t harm the yeast you can “pitch the yeast”. (Add the yeast and aerate it well to mix some oxygen into the solution to aid inabout 10. These apparati are available online but use tap water for chilling. At 80 deg our tap water is not very efficient. The water going into the wort was 54 deg. Initially the exit water was 140 deg. That went down quickly at first the more slowly as the wort cooled and the temperature differential reduced.fermentation. Cap it with an airlock and wait. There is an initial violent primary or attentuative phase where the yeast really eats the sugar like crazy. Then a second or conditioning phase occurs where some of the remaining fermentables (sugar) are still eaten by the yeast and converted to alcohol. If you don’t do this there are esters and phenols left which adversely affect the flavor of your brew.

After 3-4 weeks add a little more sugar and bottle the batch.  After 2-3 weeks (or more) in the bottle the yeast will have converted the new sugar to alcohol and produced a by produce, namely carbon dioxide, which gives the brew its fizz.

Whew! That’s a lot but it’s not really that hard. Mix, boil, mix, cool, mix, wait, wait, wait, drink! It’s the waiting that is the killer.

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