Sunday, April 3, 2011

My First Beer - Blue Moon Copy

My first batch of beer is in the fermenter and bubbling quite nicely. Currently I am getting about 1 bubble/second, which seems to be about right. Lets take a look at the process that I went though.

The ingredients were put together with the help of a local home brew shop, and are as follows:
3.3lbs of  Breiss Pilsen Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
1.5 lbs of Dry Malt Extract (DME). The exact type is escaping my memory and I will update shortly
2oz of Bittering Hops, No-type was given. I will contact the store for the exact type
~6oz of spices, Bitter Orange Peel and Coriander seeds
1 packet Nottingham Yeast
1 whirlfloc tablet

Additional Equipment I had:
1 Large metal spoon
1 20qt stainless steel cooking pot
1 Hydromometer + Thermometer
1 instant read cooking thermometer
1 6.5 Gal Conical Fermenter
1 Airlock with rubber stopper
3ft of 7/16" food grade tubing
1 small glass measuring cup
a ton of paper towels
22# bag of ice
1 gallon jug for measuring out the water

The first step I took was assembling my fermenter and making sure it was in in working order and all the parts were included. I went with a 6.5 gallon conical fermenter. There are several options for fermenting, but I liked the idea of a 1 stop spot for both my primary and secondary fermenting.

Once I had it assembled I went ahead with the cleaning and sanitizing of all of my equipment. I went ahead with a oxygen based sanitizer this time, though I will probably be changing to a foaming sanitizer like Star-San just to I can make sure i get in all of the nooks and crannies.

Once everything was sanitized, I began to boil 2 gallons of water on the stove. Getting the water to boil took a while, but once there my stove kept the water rolling without problems.

 Once the water was boiling, I turned off the heat and added the bittering hops, the LME and the DME. I stirred the mixture well to make sure that none of my ingredients stuck to the bottom of the pan, as well as to make sure that the DME was dissolved completely, since it clumped a bit at first. Similar to a malted milk ball.

Once the mixture was dissolved, I turned the heat back on and within minutes the pot was boiling. The top had a thick, frothy film on it, similar to mashed potatoes. This rose several inches, but there was no concern of a boil over since i had plenty of room in my pot.

After a short while, the thick foam at the top settled, eventually disappearing completely. Then I was able to clearly see the dark brown wort. I let it boil like this for another 40 minutes or so before I added the rest of the ingredients to the batch.

At this point I added the whirlfloc tablet, as well as a muslin bag filled with my spices. I let it boil with these additions for another 15 minutes and then shut off the heat. I removed the bag, allowing it to drip all of its water out for several minutes before tossing it out.

As for the pot of everything else, I took it to my sink that was full of ice water. 

 The cooling of the wort took about 10-15 minutes total, during which time I also worked on rehydrating my yeast. This is done by emptying the yeast packet into 1/2 cup of ~ 85 degree water. After 10 mintues you stir it up so that it is evenly distributed throughout the water. It should take on a thick, foamy appearance. Make sure you keep it covered with a clean paper towel to prevent any contamination.

After the 15 minutes of cooling, the wort had hit its cold break. This is quite visible as the wort will take on a hazy look. It seems that if this isn't achieved, your beer will have chill haze after bottling, which can affect the long term stability of it.

After that, it was as easy as poring the wort into the the fermenter as well as the yeast, and then adding water up to the 5gal line. The water needs to be of similar temperature to the yeast to make sure that you don't kill the cells with temperature shock. Make sure you do your pouring vigorously as you need to replace the oxygen you just boiled out. Some turbulent stirring can also aid in this process.I placed the airlock on, closed the lid, and proceeded to clean up.