Last last year I bought all the goodies to start brewing my own beer. Today, I finally go the chance to sit down and do it. So, I decided I’d brew a simple (I suppose) Oaked Imperial Stout as my first beer. The recipe I used was from Austin Homebrew Supply and it came with a nice set of printed instructions and all the supplies I need to make the recipe (with the exception of the whiskey, of course).
I really hate to go totally in-depth into this since there are many well-written books and web pages on the topic so I’ll just give the quick run down on what I did. Or more likely, all the mishaps so that hopefully you won’t make them. The first big step is making sure that all your supplies are ready to go — cleaned and sanitized. You’ve got to use the specialized sanitizer on the equipment that’ll touch the live yeast. In my case it was: fermenting bucket (lid and sealing ring too), airlock, stopper, thief, hygrometer, and the big metal spoon. The other items like the brewpot, thermometer, and wort chiller I washed by hand in the sink.
When it comes to heating up the water, if you can use two burners I would suggest doing that to help speed up the process. It still takes a long time so I’ve sprung for a high-powered bunsen-burner which should get here soon. However, moving on, anything in involved with making the wort was really freaking easy and very straight forward assuming you’ve boiled water and used a timer.
After the boil time is done, you’ve got to chill the wort down from the 212F that it is around to about 80F in 20 minutes or so. I luckily had a wort chiller, but unluckily, the faucet to outside hose adapter didn’t work for my faucet. I ended up disassembling my faucet to the point that I could put the tube down into the faucet adapter without water going everywhere. Even while dicking around with this, I still managed to get the wort down to 80 degrees in less than 20 minutes. And I better not forget, my 40L stock pot doesn’t fit in my sink, so I had to put it in sideways and get it to balance on the sides of the sink. That was a lot of fun and exactly why next time I’m just going to brew on the patio (I’m in Austin, the weather is generally awesome and there is a faucet close by). Once the wort is down to 80F or below, it’s time to throw it in the primary fermentation container, aka a food-grade plastic bucket with lid.
Now, this is really very simple: make sure everything is clean and sanitized, dump the wort in the bucket add some cool water, throw in the yeast, seal up the bucket with the lid and airlock and wait. It was almost that easy. But, there are some things they don’t explain all the way. First, I was using the liquid yeast that comes in these glass vials. The instructions are: shake vigorously, open and pour on the wort and water. They missed one step. Once you shake it, wait a few minutes. Otherwise the yeast explodes onto your hands. Ask me how I know? I did it. Twice. After all this fun experience, you get to put the bucket someplace and wait. So, I did this and found out that when the yeast goes to work, it’ll leak out a lot of stuff through the airlock and your house will smell like yeast and partially baked bread while it is really going to town making alcohol. After I had it spill liquid out onto my tile floor I got smart and put an old towel underneath the bucket so at least it’ll get caught by that. I really dislike having to clean up everything every few hours.
And, that is it for part one. I’m currently waiting for the fermentation to complete, at which point I’ll be dumping the contents of the bucket into a glass carboy with some whiskey-soaked oak chips, covering it up with a blanket and waiting an additional three to six months until completing the aging and bottling process. Stay tuned for more misadventure. Same beer time. Same beer channel.