It appears that I just lost my virginity! That is correct; I am no longer a home brewing virgin. My brewer buddy Scott and I met at Booth’s Brewing Supply to stock up on grain, hops, and yeast for the nights brew. When it came time to decide what we were going to make, I deferred to Scott the Brew Stud to pick a recipe. It was finally decided that we were going to whip up a batch of English brown ale. We left Booth’s with:
10 lbs. of two-row malt
1 lb. of crystal 60L malt
.5 lb. of chocolate malt
.5 lb. of oat flakes
2 packs of English hops
After leaving the brew supply store, I headed to Publix to get 5 gallons of spring water and 5 gallons of Culligan water which is filtered by reverse osmosis. Obviously, water character impacts the taste and feel of a brew, so we combined the nutrient-rich spring water with the near–distilled RO water to create an even mix. With that mix, we began the brewing process by heating the brewing water to about 150 degrees. In the mean time, we prepared the converted cooler/mash tun for use.
My buddy’s mash tun is a 10 gallon cooler that he converted for brewing. The normal spout was replaced with a high-flow spout that was connected to a manifold made of CPVC on the inside. Tiny holes were drilled in the manifold to allow the wort to seep through whilst keeping the grain in the mash tun. This contraption is very neat and I plan to replicate the device when in the near future.
We dumped the grain mix into the mash tun and poured about 2/3 of the 150 degree water on top of the grain, mixed it, and closed the lid. The grain and water mix settled at about 130+ degrees for the first step of starch conversion. After dumping some of the water into the mash tun, we put the remaining water back on the burner and increased the temperature to about 170 degrees and dumped it all into the tun. We let the starch conversion happen for at least 60 minutes before starting the lautering process and, of course, taking a little taste test.
The wort was extracted into the brew kettle and placed on the propane burner for boiling and hopping. As soon as the wort came to a rolling boil, one packet of the English hops was added to the liquid for bittering. Thirty minutes into the boil, we added half of the other packet of hops for to increase the flavor. The rest of the hops were mixed in during the final five minutes of the boil; this adds to the beer aroma.
Immediately following the boil came the ice bath. We placed the hot brew kettle in a large rope handle bucket filled with water and frozen water bottles. It took about 30 minutes to get the wort to 80 degrees. So, we cleaned out the carboy, racked over the chilled wort, and added the yeast for fermentation. With a vigorous shake of the carboy, the yeast was ready to feast on sugar and poop out our beloved alcohol!
Currently, the brew is fermenting in the carboy that is sitting in that rope handle bucket that we used earlier. It’s chilling in some water and a couple of ice bottles to keep the temperature around 60 degrees. We should be ready to rack our beer into secondary sometime next week. Stay tuned!