The day has arrived! I have looked at my equipment enough, viewed the DVD included with my starter kit, double checked my ingredients, and prepped my family for the beginning of my adventure in making my own beer.
The steps are pretty simple: boil water, add malt extract syrup, add hops at certain intervals, stir until your arm hurts, stir some more, cool wort, pour into carboy, add yeast, and wait for the magic to happen. Granted, a person can make the entire process of brewing beer at home as complex as they would like to but I chose to keep it simple for now. Brewing with malt extract syrup is the gateway drug of homebrewing.
After collecting the necessary water and setting to boil I settled in for one of the most important steps in the brewing process:
If one cannot enjoy a beer while making a beer the entire endeavor is suspect. With the malt extract syrup fully incorporated into the boiling water a person has made wort:
It is said that brewers make wort and yeast makes beer. This is true in that without the magic biological reaction of yeast and wort there would be no beer. Note to anyone planning on making beer at home—be prepared to spend a lot of time stirring boiling liquid. A lot of time. I had the advantage of using a large All-Clad kettle with a heavy bottom that retained heat well and helped to prevent scorching. The even heat also helped to prevent the wort from boiling over and making an unholy mess. Here is what can happen when the wort boils over.
Once the wort has cooled it is poured into a carboy. Some brewing kits use brewing buckets with snap lids, but the large surface area of the lid presents a lot of opportunity for air to penetrate the brewing bucket and spoil the product. The carboy’s thin neck and opening reduce the chance for this from happening. Better beer through better design. With a rubber stopper and fermentation lock in place the carboy is ready to spend the next two weeks in a cool, dark location:
For this batch I am using an American wheat recipe kit from Northern Brewer. Included in the kit are two 1 ounce packages of Willamette and Cascade hop pellets. I prefer my beer to have a less potent hop profile than most, so I reduced the amount of time that each of these ingredients was boiled. After adding the Cascade hop pellets and getting smacked in the face with the “hoppy” aroma I am going to replace this variety with something a little more mellow. Apparently, according to Northern Brewer, Cascade hops provide the signature aroma and flavor of many American ales. This tends to be the aroma and flavor that I feel are overdone by many American ales. This is the beauty of brewing your own beer—you can make it to suit your tastes without having to wander the aisles of the liquor store hoping to find something that satisfies your palate.