Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday is Brew Day


Monday started off with clearing the kitchen counters for brewing beer. Today, I am brewing a 5 gallon all grain porter kit from Brewer's Best. Sometimes referred to as BIAB for Brew in a Bag.

I wash and sanitize a 4.5 gallon stock pot and bring 3.5 gallons of water to 165 degrees. I have a single wall stainless steel stock pot, to minimize heat loss to the environment, I wrap a cotton towel, secured with binder clips, around the pot.

While the water is heating. I split my ingredients for the batch. My kitchen stove cannot boil 6.5 - 8 gallons of water required for the full batch. For the porter, BIAB included all the grains in one bag. Sometimes the grains are packaged separately. Before I put the grains into a seeping bag, I'll use a large stockpot to mix the 5 types of grains.
While the water reaches 165 degrees, I sewed up a steeping bag with a roll of cotton sock like fabric. I'll seep a few batches out of this bag. I could purchase a bag for $10, but a few minutes on the sewing machine takes care of that expense.   
Once the water reaches 165 degrees, I add the mash bag. I monitor the temperature of the mash for the next hour, every twenty minutes I make sure the mash is about 157 degrees. I use a large spoon to push the mash bag around, making sure the grains are all properly steeped. While the steeping is going on, I prepare for draining the mash bag (6 pounds of grain, now soaked, and about 150 degrees). A bonus arm workout includes, holding the extra large mash bag above the pot while the mash bag drains.

Once the mash bag is removed from the wort, I place a colander over a 2.5 gallon food grade bucket. To get all the "tea" like flavoring out of the mash bag, I pour one gallon of cool water over the mash bag. This step is called lautering. The liquid that settles into the bucket is poured back into the pot.

I turn the burner on high and return the mash to a boil. Once boiling, I add my first set of hops. The mash is now called a wort. After 30 minutes of boil time, the second set of hops is added. Then continues to boil for another 30 minutes.

Now it's time to remove the wort from the heat source. As fast a possible, I bring down the temperature of the wort from 200 to 70 degrees. This takes a lot of water. I pour just under 2 gallons of wort into two different enamel ware stock pots. The basin helps me save the water I used to cool down the wort. I use a plastic tube to siphon out the water. 

The excess, warm water is taken out to the garden or poured on trees. With washing, sanitizing, and cooling the wort, I take more than 10, 2.5 gallon buckets outside. There is still quite a bit of water going down the drain. I try to re-purpose as much water as I can.

When the wort cools to 70 degrees, I take a reading on the hydrometer. Today's reading was 10/1000ths below my Original Gravity (OG) target. I'll have to do some research, because it was pretty foggy today and the atmosphere has to push the hydrometer down. Usually, my reading is at the top of the OG target.
I sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort. Now, we have the potential for beer. The yeast gets the fermentation process started to make beer. I use a rubber mallet to secure the lid on the fermentation bucket. Install the air lock and wait for the sweet sound of the air lock bubbling.
This is a the basic procedure for making beer. I used pots and utensils I had handy in my kitchen. The next step would be to put more money into the procedures to make a full 5 gallon batch. But if I do that, why not go 10 gallon brews? I have 6, 5 gallon brews under my belt. Up to this point, most of my investment has gone into the basic brewing kit, a couple of books, and ingredients. I prefer all grain ingredient kits, they are cheaper than extract kits. Although extracts kits are a bit easier.


  1. I just got new pajamas made for me. Where are those pics?

  2. Probably Monday. Bottling & transferring Hard Cider tomorrow.