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Saturday, May 26, 2012


For Christmas I requested and received a home beer brewing kit. However, due to the recent move, I had no opportunity to get a batch going until this past days off. It was a lot of fun, and I think that I will be doing more of it! Since it took a fair amount of time to get everything set up and sanitized, I decided to make a second batch right after I did the first batch.

Here is a picture that I took while brewing my first batch.  (I really need to remember to clean the lens of my cell phone before taking pictures with it).   My first attempt was using a kit for an Irish Red Ale.  It called for steeping some specialty grains to impart a particular flavor into the wort.  At the edge of the boiling pot, you can see a paper clip holding a porous bag that holds the grains.
The wort is usually boiled for an hour. This accomplishes a few things: It converts starches to sugars for the yeast to feed on, it sterilizes the liquid, and it allows time for hops to bitter the sweet, sugary mixture. After that, the wort must be aerated and cooled to the point where yeast can survive, so that the yeast have a friendly environment to reproduce.

Afterwards the wort must be placed in a sanitized container and allowed to ferment.  Homebrewers often split the fermentation is split into two phases, a vigorous primary phase and a slower secondary phase.  The primary phase is fast, and produces a frothy foam so you need a large container to keep from blowing foam out the airlock.  The primary fermentation also produces a lot of dead yeast cells, which can create bad flavors.  After a couple of days the wort is transferred to a secondary fermenter, without transferring the dead yeast cells at the bottom.

Here is a photo my first two batches, freshy transferred to the secondary fermenters. On the left is the Irish Red Pale Ale, and on the right is Mark's Orange Peel Hefeweizen - a mildly hopped wheat beer.
The beer has to "condition" in the secondary for 2-3 weeks to complete the conversion of sugars to alcohol, and to reach its best flavor.  Then it can be bottled or kegged.

I know myself well enough to know that I would never wash and sanitize 40+ bottles every time I made a batch, so I decided to purchase equipment for kegging my home brews. Home-brewers use soda syrup kegs, because the lid opens up and they can be cleaned and sanitized easily, but can then be sealed and pressurized with CO2.

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