Homebrewing can seem intimidating and too difficult to do, but its not that much harder than making a cup of hot tea. I brewed up a java stout this weekend with the explicit purpose of documenting it for the CBC.
I ordered my homebrew kit from Midwest Brewing Supply. They have prepared kits that include all the ingredients. For newcomers to the hobby its like buying a cake mix. It doesn’t have a lot of room for creativity, but it has a high likelihood of success!
Java Stout Homebrew Kit Ingredients
Like every great kit, it includes instructions on exactly what to do, how long to do it and what order. The most important thing about home brewing is cleaning and sanitizing. Bacteria (even the kind you can’t see) will destroy your beer. It really stinks too because you wouldn’t know for weeks that the beer is ruined.
Clean everything. Sanitize everything. Maintain a bucket of sanitization water so you can constantly sanitize items.
Grey buckets is full of sanitized water. Parts that will be used (spoon, stopper, etc) are just dropped in bucket and retrieved when needed. Spray bottle is full of sanitized water for easy coverage of items.
Get at least 3-4 gallons of water hot, just short of boiling. Drop the crushed grains (in a muslin bag) into the pot and let it steep for 20-30 minutes. This is identical to brewing tea. TIP: Be sure you don’t boil the grains. It’ll ruin the beer.
The crushed grains ready for steeping.The grains sit for 25 minutes. Delicious!
Just like making tea! Let steep 20-30 minutes
Remove the grains and its time to add the Liquid Malt Extract (LME). More information about LME. This is done off burner. This syrup is so sticky, it takes awhile to pour out.
Liquid Malt Extract in a milk container. Its heavy, dense and syrupy. Pour it straight in and be sure to stir to avoid burning on the bottom.
Once the LME is added and stirred in well, through back on the burner. Its time for the BOIL!!! Boiling takes 60 minutes. Turn the heat way up and get that pot cooking. As soon as you see boiling bubbles, its time to add the hops.
There are three times to add hops: 60 minutes left of boil: This is bittering hops.
15-30 minutes left to boil: This is flavoring hops.
2 minutes left to boil: This is aroma hops.
Timing is important. You can use the same hops at all three phases or different hops during each phase. This stout included bittering hops and aroma hops, of 2 different styles.
The hops look like pellets. It helps them stay usable longer and easier to pack. Just chuck them in the boil.
Keep the lid on, but keep an eye out for boilover. My brew boiled over and made a big mess. I brewed in my driveway so it wasn’t an epic fail.
I added the bittering hops. Brewed it for 58 minutes. Then I threw in the aroma hops for 2 minutes. As soon as the 60 minutes is up, you have to cool that mix (called Wort at this point) to 80 degrees as quick as possible. They make devices to help with this, but I dont have any.
Keep an eye on the temperature. You will be looking at this image for about an hour.
I placed my kettle in a ice bath. It took 20 minutes to cool down. After the cool down, your wort is susceptible to contamination. Sanitize everything and keep the lid on. Be careful!
Ice bath to cool down the pot ASAP. Get it to 80 degrees and keep the lid on!
Place a packet of brewers yeast into a cup of warm water. Wait 10 minutes. This gets the yeast ready to work!
The wort is ready for the fermenter! Pour the cooled wort into the fermenter. Make it sure to pour it fast to make it mix up. The wort needs to be aerated for better fermentation. Pour the primed yeast into the wort. Slap the lid on top of the bucket. Put an airlock in the whole on top of the lid (filled with water) and you are good to go.
The yeast eats the sugars (from the LME) and converts it into alcohol. The airlock is used to allow the gas from the yeast/sugar chemical process to escape without allowing oxygen (with bacteria) into the fermenter.
The fermentation buckets sits for 7 days. You can watch the bubbling in the airlock. That’s yeast at work!
Bucket with the wort and yeast. Over the next week it will turn into beer! Note the airlock to allow release of gas without risk of oxygen exposure.
After 7 days, typically it should be carefully moved to a second fermenting bucket with a pot of coffee poured into it. I only have one bucket, so guess what? That’s right, I’m pouring a pot of coffee right into that bucket. Wait two more weeks and give it a swill.