As the morning got older, the weather didn’t seem to want to cooperate. I normally brew outside with a propane burner as my stove. It’s much more powerful than my electric stove in the kitchen, making the process much faster. For instance, to boil the six gallons of water I start with, my stove indoors takes over an hour. Outside, it’s about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I was not in the mood to hang around in the cold for a couple hours so I went with the stove inside.
I started the water at around noon. It took well over an hour to get really boiling, and I added the malt at 1:30, knowing it would take even more time to bring the water with the malt to a boil. That’s all fine with me, as I like relaxing while I do this. I took in the Lakers and Spurs on television.
The batch was a very simple one. I like heavier beers, so I went with extra malt, but the rest is pretty standard. Here’s the recipe:
- 9 lbs Amber liquid malt extract
- 2 oz German Tradition hops (5.7%)
- European Ale yeast
That was it. I needed very simple and forgiving yeast because I don’t have the best temperature control, and I wanted no added difficulty in specialty grains.
By 2:00 the wort was boiling. I added 1 oz of the hops at that time and set the timer for 30 minutes. At that mark I added the other 1 oz of the hops and set the timer for 30 minutes again. The boil was healthy and I avoided any boilovers with my masterful skill with the stove. And luck.
When the boil finished, I had my cooling system prepped outside. I use a copper coil that hooks to the hose. The hose pumps cold water through the hot wort and the copper grabs that heat and transfers it to the water in the coil. Cold water goes in, hot water goes out, and the wort cools much, much, much faster than if you simply let it cool in the air. I used to brew much smaller amounts and have pre-boiled (sanitized) water cooled enough to immediately bring the batch to the 70 degrees required to put the yeast in. But brewing that small of batches changed how all the chemistry worked. It’s basically better to brew the amount you will be using at the end.
After cooling, I added the yeast and put the beer away to ferment for the next week or two. It was a kick getting back into this today. It’s a pretty cool feeling to drink your own beer, and there aren’t many beers that taste better day to day as the stuff I make myself. I just appreciate it a lot more than anything I can buy. But the best part of today’s success was that this tragedy was not duplicated. Now for the part where I find catchy names for my beers.