Hemiheads Homebrew Harmageddon

Hemihead

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Welcome, dear reader, to a thread where you will see my first fumbling steps into the land of home-brewing! Here I will try to cover any progress (and failure) I encounter while trying to make my own beer.

Q: Why brew your own beer? The store is full of all kinds of beer.

There are a few reasons to this. 1: I have a great interest in beer. Each month I special-order all kind of odd bottles that is either sampled or put on a shelf in my basement to mature. 2: People should drink more locally produced brews. Each bottle of beer that is produced and sold locally is one bottle less that the big brewery dragons can't sell. 3: I am probably a bit odd.

Q: Isn't it hard to brew your own beer?

Not really. You can take a short-cut and buy ready-made beer kits, Cooper is a big producer of those, but they rarely produce good beer. I'm aiming for what's called whole-malt brewing where you make the whole process from scratch. More about that later.

Step 1: Getting the hardware.

You need a few special things to start brewing but most of them can be found in supermarkets, hardware stores or shops specialized in home-brewing. I spent a few hours around town and on the internet and I racked up most of the things i need.

4 large fermentation containers: I bought 4 30-liter plastic containers from a website specialized in wine and beer-making, one will be converted to a malt sift. Glass demijohns might be traditional and pretty to look at but they are heavy to handle and I have seen one shatter due to a plugged up fermentation lock. That brings me to...

2 fermentation locks: Looking like a twisted plastic pipe, a fermentation lock is a device used in beer brewing and wine making that allows carbon dioxide released by the beer to escape the fermenter, while not allowing air to enter the fermenter, thus avoiding oxidation. They also keep most of the smell in the container.

One 25-liter stainless steel pot: For water boiling and heating of the wort.

One cheap plastic cooler: This will not be used to keep beers cold, it will be used to keep the malt warm while making the raw wort.

One hydrometer: This will be used to measure the density of the finished sweet wort and finding out how much sugar it contains.

One cooling spiral: This is one thing I have to make from scratch. A 5 meter length of 10mm copper tubing will be made into a coil and fitted with connections to the water tap. This will be used to cool down the wort when it's time for fermentation so we don't kill the yeast.

Most of the things will arrive in a week, then I will put them in a pile a take a picture so you can see what I am rambling about. Next step, finding and modifying a recipe!
 

laxmax613

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I did a batch with my friend about a month ago. Secondary ferment should be over in about three days. I'm incredibly excited.
 

Adunaphel

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Due to space constraints, allow me to live vicariously through you.
 

Hemihead

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I did a batch with my friend about a month ago. Secondary ferment should be over in about three days. I'm incredibly excited.
Nice, did you aim for a certain style of the beer or is is a surprise when you open the first bottle?

Due to space constraints, allow me to live vicariously through you.
I will try to not disappoint.
 

sifu

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good luck. and if you grow it to a business.. im first on line buying it!
 

laxmax613

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Nice, did you aim for a certain style of the beer or is is a surprise when you open the first bottle?
We used a Hefeweizen recipe so that's what we're aiming for. I tasted it before secondary ferment and we had really hit it on the head in terms of wheat-y sweetness. I'm really excited to try it in a few days.
 

Hemihead

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A batch of stuff arrived today! Sadly my hydrometer was broken so i have to call them about a replacement.

 

Hemihead

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Just got a mail that my 24-liter stainless steel pot is on it's way, the rest of the stuff should arrive Friday or early next week. I have also decided that I'm going for an ale for the first batch, modifying a recipe a guy on a home-brewers forum sent me.
 

Hemihead

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As the day of the first brew draws closer, I cobbled this together.



It's a home-made spiral cooler, made from 5 meters of 10mm food-graded copper pipe. You connect it to the water tap and put it in the warm wort to cool it down. A test earlier showed a 10 degree drop within five minutes of operation, this was from 89 degrees Celsius. Worked like a charm!
 

Hemihead

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Hm, a random box arrived today...



... filled with malt, yeast and hop pellets!



All I have to do now is to find a day to dedicate to brewing.
 

Hemihead

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Not going to use all of it, planned dosage is 40 grams of Amarillo and 15 grams of Simcoe. No need to kill the taste-buds yet. ;)
 

Hemihead

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The brewing is on! The raw wort is resting in a insulated container as i write this, i'm both excited and nervous at the same time.
 

Hemihead

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Here comes some crappy pictures of yesterdays debacle, they are taken with a 10 year old Olympus compact camera, the only one I was willing to put to risk.

First of all, heat 17 litres of water to 76 degrees Celsius. This will be used to make the raw wort.



While the water heats up, ready the malt. I used 2,4 kg of Pale Ale malt and 0,1 kg of caramel malt.



MIX ALL THE MALTS!



Then I weighed the hop pellets I needed and put some tags on it when to dump it in the wort.



Take 5 litres of 76 degree water and pour it into a plastic cooler. Then slowly add the malt while stirring. The result looks rather icky, so put the lid on and let it sit for an hour. While it sits, fill your pot up until you have 17 litres of water and heat it to 76 degrees again.



After an hour, it's time to proceed to the step called mash-out. We need to get all the sugary goodness out of the malt so the yeast have something to feast on and make alcohol. The simplest way to do this is to take two plastic fermenting buckets, then take a 3mm drill-bit and drill the living snot out of the bottom of one of the buckets.



Shove this perforated bucket into another bucket with a tap on it and presto! Perfect malt sift!



Pour the mash into the perforated bucket, then slowly draw some raw wort into a pot or similar, collect about a litre, then pour it over the mash again. Repeat until the wort clears slightly and there are no bits of husks from the malt in the liquid. This is the mash-out process.



Then comes the lautering. Start gathering wort in a fermenting bucket. Take the 76 degree water and slowly pour it over the mash, one litre at a time. The malt will work as a sift and all the bigger particles will stay in the malt bed while the hot water draws out the things we need. Continue this process until you have 15,5 litres of wort.



If you have any hot water left in the brewing pot, throw it away. Pour the wort into the pot, put it on the stove and heat it until it boils. When it started to boil I added 10 grams of Amarillo hops, 15 grams of Simcoe 45 minutes later and 30 grams of Amarillo when I pulled the pot of the stove. Total boiling time: 1 hour.



Cool the wort down to around 20-22 degrees with a cooling spiral, then filtrate it through a sterilized cheese cloth into a sterilized fermenting bucket. Stir the wort with a eggbeater or similar so you get some oxygen into it, then add the yeast. I used an American ale yeast called Safale No 05. Put on a lid and fermentation lock filled with distilled water or alcohol, I used Russian Standard vodka. The temperature should be around 21 degrees in the room. And now, we wait.



It's now 14 hours into the fermentation and the fermentation lock is bubbling like crazy, it gives a loudly burp every 30 seconds or so. The ale will now ferment for three weeks before it's time to bottle it!
 

Hemihead

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The fermentation have now calmed down, the bubbles comes with around 1,5 minutes between them. Another homebrewer mailed me a recipe that he thought I should try out next time. A Heady Topper clone. I am not sure that I am up for the job just yet.
 

Hemihead

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If things go as planned, tonight is bottling night. Just need to clean out the kitchen with some Star San to avoid getting the fresh beer contaminated by bacteria and wild yeast.
 
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