Adam Brews Beer: Part 2 – Brewing (and bottling)

So you got your supplies and recipe kit….

Now you’re ready to make your own beer.   As I mentioned in part 1, you can use many different ingredients to brew a batch of beer. Because of this, recipes and instructions will vary.  The following will document steps (and tips) to make a 5 gal batch of American Pale Ale that will be ready to drink in 3 weeks.

The first step is to sanitize all your equipment. I would like to stress that if your equipment is not clean it will ruin your beer and may result in dumping beer, so do not ignore this step. Sanitizing your equipment is simple; first mix a tablespoon of Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser to a gallon of water and place contents into spray bottle (do not use soap to clean). Spray down all equipment and gently wipe down.

Figure 1

Next you will need 5 gallons of “clean” water (we decided to buy 5 gallons of purified water from the grocery store instead of boiling down 5 gallons of water).  Pour 2.5 gallons of clean water into you brew pot and begin to heat up the water.  When the water gets to a temperature range of 150-165 degrees you are ready to steep your grains. Empty bag of grains into cloth grain bag and place into brew pot, let grain “steep” for 20 minutes while maintaining a temperature range of 150-165 degrees (Fig 1). Remove grain bag from pot and discard grains but save the cloth bag. Your water is now considered wort.

Turn up heat on brew pot to the point of a rolling boil. Meanwhile place liquid malt under hot water facet (this will heat up the malt to allow for an easier pour). When wort comes to a boil, slowly stir in one 3.3 lb can of malt. While maintaining a rolling boil, place the bittering hops into the cloth bag and boil in brew pot for 40 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on your pot, while stirring occasionally, to prevent a boil over (boil overs get very messy).  Next, slowly add the last 3.3 lb can of liquid malt and let boil for 15 minutes. Place the remaining hops (aroma) into the cloth bag and let boil for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat to brew pot.

Figure 2

You will now need to cool your wort to approximately 70 degrees before you transfer your wort to the ferment-er. We put our brew pot into the sink and surrounded it with ice. We added more ice until the temperature fell to the correct range (which could take over an hour). Just be sure that nothing falls into the brew pot when you do this.  Once the temperature hits approximately 70 degrees transfer the wort to the ferment-er by either dumping it in or siphoning it. Be sure to avoid transferring any heavy sediment to the ferment-er.  Add clean water to the ferment-er to bring total volume to 5 gallons. At this point check and record the specific gravity using the hydrometer.

To begin fermenting your beer, sprinkle the entire packet of yeast on top of the wort surface and stir. Place the lid firmly onto the ferment-er ensuring a tight seal. Fill your airlock with water to the appropriate line and insert into lid.

Since we decided to go with the single stage fermentation cycle, our beer should be ready to bottle after one week of fermenting. Using your hydrometer, check to see the final specific gravity matches the range listed on the table provided in your kit, if this is the case then you’re ready to bottle. Transfer the beer from the ferment bucket to the bottling bucket.  Next, prepare the priming sugar by dissolving it into 2 cups of boiling water. Dump the priming sugar mixture into the bottling bucket with the beer and stir. The sugar will carbonate the beer and help form a nice head when poured. Note:  we added an extra ½ cup of sugar to our batch to ensure a quality head.

Figure 3

At this point you can taste your beer before you bottle it. It will taste flat at this point but that’s normal.

Next, raise the bottling bucket to an elevated service.  By having the bucket raised, you are allowing gravity to fill the bottles and make it easier for filling.  Fill the sanitized bottles to within approximately one inch of the top of the bottle (Fig 2). By using the bottle caper attach the crown caps to the top of the bottles (Fig 3). Repeat these steps to fill all bottles.

Let filled bottles sit in a cool dark place for two weeks to finish.  Chill and enjoy.

Note to calculate ABV% of your home-brew, use the following recommended formula:

  • (starting specific gravity – final specific gravity) x 131.25 = ABV %

One thought on “Adam Brews Beer: Part 2 – Brewing (and bottling)

  1. Richard

    Re: Fig 2 – Spend a few bucks and get a spring loaded bottle filler like this http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/spring-tip-bottle-filler.html
    You want to minimize splashing/turbulence to avoid introduction of more oxygen which can lead to oxidation. Bottle filler also makes it much easier to control the process.

    Welcome to the brewing hobby… it will consume you ; )

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