Today I took the first major step in a plan I’ve been ruminating on for the past year or so. Scott, one of my school district instructional coaching partners, came over with his beer making equipment. We went into the basement.
First we started 3 gallons of water to heat on the stove.
When the temp reached 172.5F we poured the water over 11.5 lbs. of varied malted grains that we had worked out in a recipe last week. Those grains were in a container with a spigot at the bottom. The malt had to steep at a temperature of 156F. If the temperature gets too hot the starches won’t convert to the correct sugars needed later when the yeast is added.
The malt needed to steep for about an hour, we added more hot water occasionally. Eventually we started draining the mix to reheat it on the stove and pour back over the top in order to release all the sugars from the grains.
Finally we had the liquid (roughly 5 gallons now since we’d been adding more) drained into the big pot and we turned up the heat to get it to boil. All that was left in the strainer was the wet malt.
Once the pot started to boil we added 4 ounces of hops. I picked these from my backyard in September. I planted these hops from shoots I’d gotten from a farm that goes back 6 generations in our family. They were likely brought by an ancestor who was a saloon keeper in Luxembourg. After half an hour we added more hops, and more again after 45 minutes, and finally again when the mix had boiled an hour. At this point we took our wort off the stove.
Now we need to lower the temperature of the liquid to 99F so that we can add yeast. Rather than wait for hours for this to happen we placed a pipe coil inside the pot and hooked it to the sink. We ran a slow stream of cold water through the pipes to lower the temperature.
When it reached 99F we spooned enough out to fill a graduated cylander later, when the mix reached room temperature we would be able to float a hygrometer to tell the density or specific gravity of the liquid. If we know the starting gravity we will be able to later measure and determine the alcohol content.
Then we needed to pour the beer from the kettle into the fermenting bucket. We added the yeast mix to the bottom of the bucket before we started pouring. Since we had used my hops we needed to get them out of the mix as we poured. We used our old applesauce sieve to strain out the hops
Then we fastened down the top and put a vapor lock on it. That will allow the CO2 gas to escape as the yeast digests the sugar and turns it into alcohol.
I put the bucket in our back room upstairs since the basement is a little too cold for good fermentation. Next Sunday we will check it and probably move it to a 5 gallon carboy for further fermentation.
I checked the specific gravity later and the reading is 1.54 which is pretty darned close (1.58) where we need it in order to have a final alcohol content of 6%.
So I never mentioned why I’m doing all this now. My goal is to have a beer to celebrate the end of my career in public office. My term as City Councilor ends 12/31/2017 at midnight. Out of Office Ale will be ready on 1/1/2018