Well, the day has finally come. I’ve done two very successful extract brews so the time is right for a ‘proper’ beer. I say ‘proper’ – I’m using the Brew In A Bag method, which is not really ‘proper’ as such, but it’s a lot closer to ‘proper’ than using extract out of a can. I’ve got my brew kettle, I’ve got my grains, hops and I’ve borrowed a ‘Bayou Classic’ burner from a friend which I guess from the name is normally used to boil up big pots of crawdaddies in the swamp, but will boil a tub of water in no time at all by the looks of things.
Problem number one – I forgot to get untreated water. I swore after last time I was never going to use the filter jug again but I have no plastic bottles in the house and thus no way to get water from Speight’s tap to my house, so I have no choice but to sit there laboriously filling and refilling the jug. I don’t want to postpone as I only have the burner this weekend. Brew day is therefore delayed by 2hrs while I get the water ready. Bugger.
So, into the kettle goes my ‘hand crafted’ water and on goes the Saturn V rocket burner. It’s so loud I can’t actually hear my stereo properly! I couldn’t find a suitable false bottom for the kettle to protect bag from hot steel kettle base, so I’ve elected to suspend bag from the rafters and allow it to dangle in the water at a carefully measured height. This is slightly risky, I just hope the knot doesn’t slip because I don’t want to be struggling with hot wet string while 5Kg of steaming grain hangs off the end of it. Hope my boy scout training kicks in.
The target temperature of 156F was reached in about 10 minutes – I will definitely look at buying one of these burners myself, I had been planning to use the BBQ but this is so damn efficient it’s scary. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have automatic ignition – I have to kneel on the floor to get the match near the gas ring. Also, having the grain bag suspended in the pot by rope means I can’t have the lid on, so it’s going to be slightly more difficult to maintain the temperature, especially as the RamJet’s lowest setting is still FUCKING HOT.
FFWD 1hr and we’re on for stage 2, which is raise the temperature by 8.2 deg and then blast it for a final 10 minutes. My candy making thermometer doesn’t go that fine-grained I’m afraid, it’s marked in 5 deg graduations so there is a fair bit of guesswork going on at this stage. Maybe I’ll invest in a digital thermometer next, this will have to do for now though.
Now the grainbag comes out and I’ve dumped it in the garden. Once it’s cooled down I’ll see if the chickens are interested in the contents – I seem to remember them turning their beaks up at a friend’s mash detritus before, and recently they’ve got a little picky when it comes to left over breakfast porridge so it’ll probably just end up in the compost.
25g of UK Northdown hops goes in at the 30 minute stage – I’ve knocked up a simple hop sock using some nylon mesh I used to press my cider apples, not altogether sure if it’s fine enough to completely contain the hop sludge though. No matter if some escapes though, I will be racking off to a secondary fermenter at some stage anyway. Mmmm, I love hops, what a fucking marvellous discovery by the ancients…
nb, I’m using Beersmith to do this brew – I just installed the 30 day trial because the recipe I’m following came from the beersmith website, and it wasn’t until I had already purchased all the ingredients that I noticed that all the instructions and steps and what have you are only available to you if you have the software. So far so good with Beersmith, it’s way more in depth and scientific than I need at this stage, but it’s damn useful, even if it’s just for the timer function!
** MID BREW UPDATE ** apparently I am not brewing in the basement again, because apparently the ‘entire house stinks of malt and shit’. It’s lucky I have a large covered porch area that will do for next time :-s
Next in is 25g of Cluster Hop, then a 15 minute race to the finish line. My tried and tested wort chiller works like a charm, and I get the liquid down to 24 deg in no more than about 20 minutes. I augmented its cooling power by carrying the pot over to a paddling pool full of cold water which really helps too. Then into the fermenter she goes, swiftly followed by 10g of pre-hydrated Mangrove Jack’s Workhorse Yeast. Then the whole shooting match gets shut in my new temperature controlled brew chamber (i.e. old fridge + heat mat + STC1000) and I’m outta here.
Actually, I have a fair bit of cleaning up to do, and it’s Sunday evening so although I don’t want to do it, better get it out of the way. One day, I’ll have staff to clean this shit up 😉
Anyway, here is a list of the ingredients:
- 3.7Kg Pale Malt, 2 row (includes an extra 450g to make up for BIAB / newbie inefficiency)
- 950g Flaked Oats (basically, breakfast oats, but I gave them a blast in the food processor)
- 450g Crystal / Caramel Malt
- 115g CaraPils
- 115g Chocolate Malt
- 115g Roasted Barley
- 115g Black Malt
- 25g UK Northern Hops
- 25g Cascade Hops
- 25g Fuggles Hops (for dry hopping)