Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Have Bubbles

Gurgle. The sound reached my ears as soon as the door opened into the room where the bucket of wort sits. Then I saw the bubbles. Those beautiful bubbles meant that the yeast is consuming the malt, releasing carbon dioxide as it creates alcohol. Glory, glory, hallelujah -- we have fermentation!

Gonads of grain. 
The whole process started in June, when I used my birthday funds to purchase a two-stage brewing kit and a porter recipe from Grape and Granary, a beer and wine brewing store in Akron.

However, after reading the brewing handbook that came with the kit, I realized the high summer temperatures were not ideal for making beer.

We shelved the project until last Saturday night. The Enthusiast and I were excited to begin making our first batch of beer. We had no idea what were getting into.

Brewing the wort. 
We got started at around 6 p.m., sanitizing our tools and beginning to heat two gallons of non-chlorinated water in the brewkettle. The instructions said to bring the water up to 150-160 degrees F, and then add the grain in two mesh socks, which looked like gonads when filled.

After bringing the water to a boil (212 F) like a moron, we let the water cool to the proper temperature before adding the grain to start the wort (or pre-beer, as I prefer to call it). We had to keep the pre-beer concoction between 150 and 160 F for 20 minutes, stirring the whole time.

After steeping this dark tea-looking liquid, we removed the gonads of grain and brought the mixture to a boil. Then we removed the heat to add the malt and bittering hops. From there, we began a 45-minute boil.

Malt makes wort look nasty. 
With 15 minutes left in the boil, we added flavoring hops. With two minutes left, we added the aroma hops. And then the annoying part began.

The next eternity was spent waiting for the wort to cool to proper temperatures. We placed the brewkettle in our kitchen sink and circulated cold water around it until it was 120 F or so.

At that point, we transferred the wort into the primary fermenter and put it back in the sink, adding refrigerated water until the bucket was 4.5 gallons full.

But wait, we're supposed to have five gallons. I ran out to the grocery store for an extra gallon of water. The wort was supposed to cool to 60 to 70 degrees before we could add the yeast, according to the directions that came with the recipe. We waited. And waited.

We kept refilling the sink with cold water and added ice, but our sink wasn't deep enough to really cover the bucket. I stuck it outside, where it was 40-some degrees, and we waited some more. By 11 p.m., the wort was still 80 degrees, which is where it was an hour before. Finally, I consulted another source, which said to add the yeast after it was below 90 F.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, we got the fermenter sealed by 11:39 p.m., with a starting gravity of 1060. Tomorrow, we transfer the wort to the secondary fermenter (or carboy, for those of you who like brewing jargon), where it will sit for another week before bottling.
Tiny bubbles of joy. 


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting the yeast to fart!

Jess said...

Yay for bubbles!

Brad said...

Very exciting. My wife just got me a cheap Mr.Beer kit this week for my bday to try out my hand at homebrewing. Might give it a shot this weekend. If things go well, might need to upgrade to a "real" kit like you have.

Al's CL Reviews said...

Love "gonads of grain."

Congrats on bubbles!

the erratic epicurean said...

woohoo!! i can't wait to sample!

BrianFlash said...

Sounds like everything went well. I think 70 degrees is a little cool for the yeast so you'll do fine.

I always used water right from the tap to replenish up to five gallons. Also helped to cool the wort. Never caused a problem for me.

As long as you have strong rampaging yeast and sanitized equipment your beer will turn out well!

Matthew Bradford said...

My first thought looking at the sacks was, "testicles", and you promptly followed that with "gonads". I felt like we were really connected for a second...