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The Step by Step Process
Alright, now that you have your equipment and your ingredients…. Its time to brew! Just remember that you can’t stir too much during the Mash.
- Prior to brewing, take the vials of yeast out of the refrigerator so that they reach room temp while your brewing.
- Heat up 4 gallons of water in brew kettle to 145° F
- Reduce burner to min heat (without blowing out), stir in grain, and cover.
- Drink a beer and feel inspired
- After 15 mins, set brew kettle aside and heat up 3 gallons of water in hot water pot to 170° F
- Slowly add water to brew kettle and stir, the temperature should be around 143° F
- At this point you have 2 choices:
- With the burner on low heat, slowly raise the temperature to 150° F over 70 mins (stirring every 5mins…. more is better)
- After 30 mins heat 1 gallon of water to boiling and slowly add to kettle (stirring every 5mins…. more is better)
- Turn the burner to medium heat and continue to stir until the liquid(mash) temperature reaches 158° F
- Lower the burner to low heat for 10 mins (yep, keep stirring)
- Turn the burner to medium heat and raise liquid (mash) temperature to 170° F
Alright, if you taste the mash it should be sweet. Those sweet sugars will soon be feeding the yeast to make alcohol. Now its time to lauter/sparge! This is where we drain off the liquid and wash the residual sugars off the grain.
- Set up the lauter buckets on a table so that you can drain into the brew kettle.
- Heat 6 gallons of water to 185° F
- Use the pitcher to transfer the mash to the buckets. Try to transfer and equal amount of grain between buckets. Keep the spigots closed
- Once all the mash has been transferred to the buckets, open up one of the spigots and catch the runoff (wort) in the pitcher and dump back in the bucket. You will want to continue to recycle the liquid until there is minimal/no grain particles flowing out. Do this for both buckets.
- Open both spigots and drain into cleaned brew kettle. While draining, Use pitcher to transfer heated water to buckets and keep the grain bed under water.
- Continue to drain buckets into brew kettle until the level of the liquid (wort) is within about 3 inches of the top of the pot.
Sparging makes me thirsty. I recommend a tasty beverage as we start the Boil! The end is in sight, we’re going to boil down the wort and add some hops. Once that happens, it will really smell like a true brewery. The key to this step is getting a good rolling boil without boiling over. Those boil overs will sneak up on you quick.
- Fire up the burner and bring the wort to a boil.
- Hefeweisen only: After 30 mins of a good rolling boil, add 2 oz of Tettnanger hops to hop bag, tie off the bag, and toss into the brew kettle.
- Pale Ale only: After 30 mins of a good rolling boil, add 4 oz of Cascade hops to hop bag, tie off the bag, and toss into the brew kettle.
- Place cooling coil in boiling wort (this will ensure that the coil is sanitized) – Ignore this step if you plan on putting your brew kettle in an ice bath.
- Hefeweisen only: Wait 20 mins and add 2 oz of Hallertau hops to hop bag, tie off the bag, and toss into the brew kettle.
- Pale Ale only: Wait 50 mins and add 2 oz of Hallertau hops to hop bag, tie off the bag, and toss into the brew kettle.
- Wait 10 mins and shut off burner
Alright, boil is complete and now it’s time to cool down the wort, rack it into the carboys and pitch the yeast. Lets get to it! Right after some refreshing beer.
The Cooldown and Pitch
- If you have a cooling coil, hook up your cold water hose to the cooling coil and start cooling it down. Otherwise cover your brew and drop the kettle into an Ice bath.
- Monitor the temperature and stop the cooling process once the wort temperature reaches 75° F
- Place the brew kettle up on a table and your cleaned/sanitized carboys under the kettle
- Use the racking cane to siphon the beer into the carboys being careful to not suck the trub off the bottom of the brew kettle. As much as it pains me to leave anything that could be fermented, the beer will be much clearer if we leave the chunky’s in the kettle. I typically pull from the remaining wort to take a measurement of initial gravity with the hydrometer.
- Once the carboys have been filled up, dump a vial in each carboy (or both in a demijohn)
- Cap the carboys with the stopper and bubbler
Now we’re fermenting! Keep the carboys in a dark place at ~70° F. If the temp goes too low, you may not get a full fermentation from the yeast. There is a little more leeway if your fermenter warms up into the 70’s, however as it gets beyond 75° F you will start to risk developing some off flavors.
- Fermentation will start in earnest within 36 hours (typically closer to 12 hours). You will see a thick layer of foam on the beer and the bubbler will be percolating away.
- After about a week, fermentation will be finished. (no foam and no/minimal bubbling).
- Clean/sanitize corny kegs
- Rack the beer from the carboys to the corny kegs, again being careful not to suck up the trub.
- Seal up and pressurize the kegs with about 20psi CO2 to force carbonate.
- Refrigerate at 38° F
- Taste the beer periodically. Once the carbonation reaches a level that you like, bring the CO2 pressure down to ~5lbs.