At Big Scot’s bright and early and ready to brew my first batch of beer. The motivation is partly due to the fact that an old friend starting growing hops and gifted me a couple pounds of Cascade and Zeus. But the biggest reason for starting my brewing apprenticeship was having a friend with knowledge (Big Scot is at approx. 30+ batches) and has a solid equipment setup. I selected a recipe from Beersmith.com as a guide. My rationale for selecting the recipe I did was that it was a style I liked and it took advantage of the hops I had. The name was “Cascade American Pale Ale” and was the ‘all-grain’ method. Then Big Scot converted my downloaded recipe into the log we’d follow today using his brewing software.
So here’s the step by step log of my first brew day:
9:25 Gathering equipment and ingredients (purchased grains and yeast a couple days earlier in Aurora, hops are homegrown from my friend John in Michigan).
9:35 Prepared bucket of sanitary water, 3 level tablespoons of Step 1 No Rinse cleansing powder.
9:43 Heating strike water on stove in the kitchen to save time and propane, preparing for the batch sparge, heating 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain.
9:56 Strike water (12.8 quarts) heated to 168-degrees then poured into mash tun to help get it to temperature.
9:59 Doughing in the grains into the mash tun, digital thermometer used to hit mash range of 150 – 154 degrees (higher temp results in increased sweetness). Stirred for about 5 minutes, hit temp target and closed mash tun for 60 minutes.
10:05 Sanitized the Italian glass carboy, first time used.
10:10 Weigh the hops, using 0.6-ounces of Zeus (bittering), 1.0 ounces of Cascade for aroma, and 1.0 ounces of Cascade for flavor, and added a small qty of cones from Big Scot’s backyard (Centennial).
10:26 Checked the mash tun temp, still at 153 degrees, could do an iodine test to tell if the starches have been converted, we are just are doing this step by timing.
10:46 Downtime, had a Big Scot’s Cascadian IPA “Dirty Balls” (golf term).
11:04 Doing a vorlauf (clearing the wort), then took first runnings and collected 1.75 gallons.
11:13 Added 3 additional gallons of water at 190-degress for the first batch sparge, waiting 10-minutes.
11:14 First runnings into the brew kettle.
11:25 Completed first sparge, 3-gallons more of wort into brew kettle.
11:28 Added 3 more gallons of 192-degree water into mash turn, waiting 10-minutes.
11:44 Last sparge in brew kettle, flame on, and approx 20-minutes till it hits full boil.
11:45 Cleaning mash tun, not that interesting, giving spent grains to friend that has a compose pile (trying to be green).
11:57 Brew kettle temp now at approx 170-degrees, watching for boil (200-degrees?) and protein break.
12:08 Brew kettle temp now at approx +195-degrees, foam starting to signal protein break is close.
12:11 Turn propane off for a moment to prevent over-boil, waited a minute or two, then re-ignited burner.
12:16 First 0.6-ounce of hops (Zeus) in boil.
12:57 Added 1.0-ounce of hops (Cascade) in boil.
1:06 Putting chiller in brew kettle, to bring to temperature.
1:15 Last hops in (another 1.0-ounce of Cascade), flame off, now for chilling process.
1:16 Cold water running through chiller, working to get to 100-degrees, when we’ll take out second bag of hops (aroma flavor). Note: cooling water into clothes washer for re-use, my aren’t we green.
1:31 Hit 100-degrees.
1:54 Hit 72-degrees, post boil gravity check, now at 1.045. Doesn’t make sense because we boiled off 2-gallons, hell I never took chemistry what do I know about precise measurements.
2: 00 Pitching the yeast.
2:11 Yeast pitched and stopper in.
3-weeks in the fermenter, then rack into another carboy and dry-hop with 2-ounces of Cascade pellets for one week, then bottles for 2-3 weeks.
First impression of home brewing: It’s a simple process on the surface, but precision is required and math calc’s make this not such a laid-back “hobby”. I think it was definitely a huge advantage to brew with someone that has the experience. And I like the social aspect of the whole process. The thing about beer being a communal activity becomes even more apparent in the brewing process (versus the drinking process). There’s enough waiting time between steps that sets a relaxed pace to the whole experience. And the results of the one’s labor are satisfying, though that’s yet to be confirmed via tasting of the aged product. I guess you are always happy with crafting something out raw materials. Plus it provides unequal insight into how that glass of beer tastes the way it does. I’ve just taken my next step towards Jedi-level beer geekery, and I can’t wait to taste the results and brew again. The only real question I have about home-brewing is what kind of style to brew next.