Saturday, January 11, 2014

A beer making adventure!

It’s funny how life intersects sometimes.

While on my recent trip to Oregon, my boyfriend and I helped my step dad make a batch of beer. It involved culturing yeast and making media for the yeast to eat….but instead of data, it yields beer. Delicious beer. Or at least, that’s what we are hoping for....

The first step in our beer making, was to hit the home brew store. We went to a store in Medford, OR called Grains, Beans and Things and they were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The recipe we had pulled off the internet turned out to be a little unrealistic, especially in the amounts of ingredients used, so with the help of the staff, we were able to put together an adjusted recipe. 

Go yeast, go! Look at all that CO2
 getting made..
Our adapted recipe is as follows:

  • 1 package beer yeast
  • 2 lbs flaked oats
  • 4 lbs wheat malt extract
  • 2 lbs wheat dry malt
  • 16 oz candied sugar
  • 1 oz bittering hops
  • 1 oz flavoring hops
  • 1.5 oz coriander
  • 1.5 oz seeds of paradise
  • 1 oz bitter orange peel
  • 4 oz strawberry extract

Typically, you want to active your yeast before hand, but it depends on what you are working with. We used a smack pack, so we started it the night before so that our yeast were nice and active the next morning.

Beer making?
Or just a really complicated way to
make oatmeal?
You need 3 separate pots for this recipe. Because we are working out of a normal home kitchen, we make a concentrated wort, which is then watered down, so we don't have to work with the large volume that we want (because we want to make enough beer to share, right?).

The first pot gets 1/2 gallon of cold water. The flaked oats go in to a boil bag that is tied with enough room for the oats to absorb some water. Place these in the pot with the 1/2 gallon of water and heat to between 148 and 154 degrees and maintain this temperature range for 30 minutes.

The second pot gets 1 gallon of water. Bring the temperature to around 150 degrees. This is the water you will use to sarge the oats. Keep it as this temperature until you are ready to sarge.
Grinding things the old fashioned

While these are heating, you can coarsely grind your coriander and seeds of paradise. These means crack 'em open and stop. These, along with the bitter orange peel, go into your herb bag. This is another, smaller boil bag that's tied up.

Unless your name is Neil
Strauss, this is what
sarging looks like.
The third pot is your brew pot. Place the bag of oats in a strainer over your brew pot. Pour the water the oats were boiled in through the strainer as well, then pour your gallon of 150 degree water over the oats and through the strainer as well.

Get rid of the oats and add the malt, both the extract and the dry. This is also when you add the candied sugar and the pack of bittering hops to the brew pot. Bring this to a boil. This is now your wort. Add the herb bag and 1/4 of the bag of flavoring hops. Keep at a rolling boil for 45 minutes.
We used German Spalt for our bittering hops and Czech Saaz
for our flavoring hops.

The yeast is slowly converting all
that sugar to alcohol for us.
That is just so nice.

Remove from heat, drain and discard the spice bag.

Cool the wort and transfer to your carboy for fermenting. Add the 4 oz of strawberry extract and enough water to end up with 5 gallons of liquid. Stir to ensure complete mixing. Add the actively bubbling yeast culture and mix. Seal with an air lock.

Primary Fermentation: 7 days

Secondary Fermentation: 5 days

As our trip wasn't long enough to allow us to help with bottling, you don't get to hear about that part of the process. Deal with it.