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Homebrewing step by step pg2

All-Grain Brewing Overview

Before you dive into these steps, I’m assuming you have cleaned and sanitized everything, your grain is crushed, equipment is set up and the mash water and sparging water are at the correct temperature.

  1. Add the crushed grain to the mash water and stir thoroughly so there are no lumps, (this is the mash in) stick in a thermometer and start the timer. I like to stir at least once during the mash.

  2. When time is up, draw off some of the runnings and pour it back into the mash tun. Do this several times until the runnings are clear. This recirculating establishes the grain bed.

  3. Start the sparge water running, open the valve on the mash tun and direct the runnings into the brew pot. Adjust the flow rate into the pot. If you sparge too fast, a lot of the goodies will be left in the mash.

  4. When all of the wort has been collected, put the brew pot on the burner and start the heat. Test a sample of the wort to determine the OG (and write it down!).

  5. Continue by going to Step V in the extract process above.

  1. The next step is getting the wort from the brew pot into the fermenter. There are basically 4 ways to do this.

    • If you’re fermenting in a bucket, you can just pour the wort into it.

    • If you’re using a carboy, pour the wort into it using a large funnel.

    • You can use a racking cane (see bottling section below) and tubing to siphon the wort into the fermenter.

    • If you were a real badass and bought a kettle with a ball valve, just attach the tubing and transfer.

    • Note – I like to pour the wort through a fine-mesh sieve to catch most of the trub. If you don’t have one, transfer the wort carefully and try not to disturb the trub at the bottom of the pot. Then, stop pouring in time to leave most of it in the pot.

  2. If you did an extract partial boil, add enough boiled and cooled top-off water to the fermenter to make a total of 5 gallons.

  3. Pitch the yeast. Remember to sanitize the scissors and yeast packet before cutting it open. If you’re fermenting in a bucket, sanitize your spoon again and stir in the yeast.

  4. Yeast need oxygen to multiply and make our much-needed alcohol.

    • If you poured the wort into a bucket, you probably introduced enough oxygen for the little buggers to use.

    • To oxygenate wort in a carboy, cover the opening with a clean cloth or a piece of foil and gently rock back and forth or shake for a minute. This will also mix in the yeast.

  5. Close the hole in the top of the carboy with the sanitized stopper and airlock, or if using a bucket, cram it into the hole in the lid. Put some of the sanitizer solution into the airlock.

  6. Put the fermenter in a place that is out of the sun and stays at the proper temperature for the style. Lagers yeasts ferment at cooler temperatures than ale yeasts.

  7. Clean up NOW. This is the best time to get the crust and sticky crap off your equipment.

  8. Clean up NOW. This is the best time to get the crust and sticky crap off your equipment.

Racking to a Secondary Fermenter

When your hydrometer tells you that fermentation is complete, you can rack the beer to a sanitized carboy to get it off the yeast. Don’t splash the beer around while you’re transferring it over. Insert a clean and sanitized airlock and stopper. At this point, moving the beer to a cooler location will help the remaining floaties fall out of suspension.

TIME TO BOTTLE AND MAKE SOME FOAM – I made how much beer?

As if you haven’t waited long enough to try your beer, it will take about two more weeks after you bottle it before it is carbonated. However, you can be like me and try a taste of it out of the fermenter. It’s warm, flat and won’t have the fizzy mouthfeel of carbonated beer, but it gives you some idea of how you did. Start a good brewing habit and make some notes. What do you taste? Carmel, bready, biscuit-like? How does it smell? Can you smell the hops? Do they smell like flowers, spices, pine trees? Is there anything that tastes or smells weird? What color is it? Keep a record of all your brews for future reference. They can give you valuable information if you need to backtrack or if you want to make the same thing again (remember that word ‘consistent’ from earlier?).

Here’s a list of the main stuff you will need for bottling.

priming sugar
bottling bucket with spigot and tubing
racking cane and tubing
bottle filler

brown glass bottles -– 5 gallons will make about 2 cases, so at least 50 bottles
bottle caps
bottle capper
bottle brush

About an hour before you’re ready to bottle, carefully move the fermenter to a counter top. Try not to stir up the trub…you want it to stay in the fermenter. Clean and sanitize your bottles, bottling bucket, racking cane, tubing and anything else that will touch the beer or any surface the beer will contact. This is a good time to use your thief to take a sample for the FG reading.

  1. Measure out the right amount of priming sugar according to the directions and add it to the bottling bucket.

  2. Rack the beer to the bottling bucket, make sure the priming sugar is mixed in and put the lid on.

  3. Attach the sanitized hose with bottle filler to the spigot.

  4. Insert the bottle filler all the way to the bottom of the bottle and press gently. The beer will start flowing. Fill the bottle until the beer is an inch or less from the top (this is called the head space).

  5. Cap the bottle immediately to avoid contamination. Wipe off the bottle with a damp rag.

  6. Repeat the process until all the beer has been bottled.

  7. Store for about 2 weeks until carbonated.

  8. Enjoy!

KEGGING – It’s time to roll out the barrel.

Kegging is much easier and faster that bottling, but you’ll have to invest in a keg with fittings and a CO2 tank with a regulator. All there is to it is racking the beer into the keg, sealing it and turning on the CO2. Carbon dioxide will infuse into beer faster if the beer is cold. I usually just put the whole keg and tank into my beer fridge. The fizziness of the beer is controlled by the pressure you set on the regulator and is measured in volumes. A Belgian ale will carbonate at higher volumes than an English ale.

GOOD READS – How to get more learnt.

Here are 3 excellent books that I highly recommend.

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian, ISBN-10: 0062215752 – This is the classic text for beginners or even those with experience who want a refresher on the basics.

The Brewer’s Companion by Randy Mosher, ISBN-10: 0964041014 – This is everything you need to know when you are ready for all-grain brewing. I suggest buying 2 copies. The one I have is so dog-eared from use that I need a new one. But that means it’s good. You’ll use it all the time.

Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher, ISBN-10: 0937381837 – When you’ve got some experience and the go-apeshit phase hits, this is an awesome book for learning how to get creative without ruining your beer. It covers all kinds of ingredients and has great recipes. I recommend the Pink Menace.