Monday, June 11, 2007

First experiment

To learn the art of beer making, we need to get it right from scratch. Therefore we have decided to start with a few small batches of beer. The first attempt is based on one single kind of malt with some of it roasted.
The ingredients:
2Kg pale malt
200Gr roasted malt (175C for 30 min, one layer of malt)
Boiled, cooled, 24 hour old tap water (to get rid of tap water chemicals)
Hops pellets (wrong season for fresh hops)
Ale Yeast.

I prepped by running the pale malt through a mincer (must get a crushing device).
The following day Bernard and I went shopping for some more brewing equipment. And when we returned, we got started (12:10 pm).
I turned on the oven and set it for 175C.
We heated up about 4.5 litres of water to about 80C and mixed in the malt.
I put an oven tray with 200gr of malt in the oven.

We stabilized the temp at 66C using the cook top. For reference I took a few drops of mash on the white plate and added a small drop of iodine and it turned dark purple. (Apparently a good way to see if the mash is ready or not.) After 30 min, we took out the malt from the oven, and it had a nice nutty smell. Bernard got the hard work with crushing them with a canon ball.

(Gosh I love students....)(And Bernard was whining about how he must get a page.)

We added about 1.5 liter of hot water to the roasted malt and balanced it to 66C.
Every know and then we gave the mash(es) a stir. When the mash was 2 hours old, we did a new iodine test and it remained yellow, time for extraction.
As we still have primitive equipment, we used a combination of sive, strainer and a tea towel.

It took quite some time to get the liquid out of the mash. As we are lacking some equipment, we are unable to do "proper" sparging.
2 things learned.
1) avoid crushing the malt too fine.
2) get good and right equipment (need to visit a plumbing supply and get some tubing...)
Anyway, the extraction gave us about 3 litres of 1095
I put the mash back in the pot and added about 1.75 litres of water and left it for another 30 min.
We now did the same for the roasted malt. It was pitch black and smelled wonderful. it gave us about a litres of 1060. I then added another half a litre of water and left it for another 30 min.
All in all we extracted:
1 Stage, about 4 litres of 1095
2 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1060
3 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1030
4 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1010
Roasted Malt
1 Stage, about 1 litres of 1060
2 Stage, about 0.5 litres of 1020
3 Stage, about 0.5 litres of 1010
Mixing them together we got just over 10 litres of 1048. Not bad for a first attempt. Thats about 50% yield.

I split them in two and brought both to a boil on the stove. One I boiled for 15 min and then cooled rapidly (something about cold break that we will learn more about later).
I took half the dry yeast and sprinkled it over 41C mix of brew and hot water. After about 10 min, I added it to the brew.

The other one, I added hops to. Now, this is where I was short on info. I have a couple of books and looked at the internet but I did not find any guidance to how much/little hops one should have when using pellets. I aimed for about 24 grams for 5 liter, but I _think_ I got 35. (Next on the list is a digital scale that can work on the gram.) After 45 mins boiling, I added a pinch of irish moss to the hopped brew. (I forgot to add it to the non hopped brew.) After another 15 min of boiling, filtered the brew through a clean tea towel and rapidly cooled it.
(I had a taste and god damn it was bitter. Probably a bit to much hops....)
I took the remaining half of the dry yeast and sprinkled it over 41C mix of brew and hot water. After about 10 min, I added it to the brew.

Cleanup. The best way to be allowed to do this again is to leave the kitchen cleaner than when we started. 9PM I finished off the cleaning and sat down with a large straight Mt Gay Rum.

Not much activity, but it was fermenting. Left it alone.

Both are now bubbling away nicely and it is now about 48 hours later and I have skimmed and stirred the beer and had a taste (before stirring). It is no longer as bitter as the initial brew, but it still has a very strong taste of hop.

Skimmed of a lot of yeast off the top and gave it a stir. Starting to taste quite nice, if one likes (very) bitter beer.

Last skimming. Bernard and I had a taste. The "hoppiness" has come down some more. But it is clear, it will be very dominant tast of hopp.

I was ment to bottle it all on Friday but it looks like I had thown away the old bottles so I had to go and do some shopping today. All in all I got 11 75cl bottles.

Time to wait a couple of weeks before the first real tasting.


Weekend_Viking said...

If you want help on the mead, I may see if my brother (Vernon) can help with his mead recipe - he did some very good meads and sparkling wines a few years back. He's not playing much in the SCA these days (got married, and running the family business while fighting with Dad about how to run the family business...)

Will contact him for you if you wish.


Bernard said...

Crushing the barley to the right consistency I thik was one of the key lessons from the first batch - it was the overcrushed siltlike stuff that made filtering out the liquid really hard.

Also the hops. Less hops next time. But it's intersting comparing the tastes of the hopped/unhopped at this stage - you really notice it's absence.