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DIY: A Simple Guide to Beer Brewing for Seasonal Ale Lovers
Step 7: Ice bath
Once your boil is complete, you need to cool the wort as fast as possible. A bathtub full of ice water is best, but a deep sink will work as well. Cool the wort to 65-75 degrees (the yeast packet/vial should have instructions for the ideal temperature for the strain you’re using).
Step 8: Transfer
Once your wort is cool, transfer it to a carboy or fermentation bucket. Vigor is alright now, as you want to dissolve oxygen into the wort. During this step, pour a little into a tube and check your Original Gravity (OG) with a hydrometer (water has a gravity of 1.000). The gravity is a measure of how much sugar is dissolved in the water of your wort. The estimate for the Smoked Molasses Porter is 1.060 OG —it’s okay if your measurement differs. Every beer is different!
Step 9: Add yeast
Add 1 tsp. brewers yeast to your wort, aerate vigorously and secure a blow-off tube into a bucket of sanitizer. The sugar you created in the mash is now being eaten by this yeast, which is expelling alcohol and carbon dioxide. In other words, your beer is now fermenting. Congratulations! Store it in a cool, dark place for two weeks and check on the fermentation as often as you please. When you think it’s about ready, use a sanitized auto-siphon to sample and test its gravity.
Step 10: Preparing for a secondary fermentation
Start by dissolving molasses in water (about 10 minutes at a light boil). The purer, more refined the sugar you use, the less flavor will be imparted. Molasses and treacle add caramel tones indicative of robust winter ales. Add this molasses solution to the bottling bucket.
In the primary fermentation, the byproduct carbon dioxide was released into the air. Adding more sugar for a secondary fermentation provides the fuel for more carbon dioxide. Once your beer is bottled, this carbon dioxide will carbonate the brew—also known as bottle conditioning. Remember: your beer is a living thing, and the yeast will continually alter the taste, IBU, ABV, and gravity of the beer.
Step 11: Bottling
Hooray! Bottling will be your final labor, and because you now have about six gallons of Smoked Molasses Porter on hand, it’s a good time to get a friends to help you. Bottling is done in three steps: sanitizing, filling, and capping. It is important to make absolutely certain that all your bottles and bottling equipment are properly sanitized; not doing so will result in an off-taste or an explosive bottle.
Start by gently siphoning your Porter into the bottling bucket. Insert the bottling wand into each bottle (to prevent oxygen from entering) and fill. Do not bottle if the measured gravity is above 1.005—overgassed bottles may explode (there’s a little more danger in home brewing than being burned by wort).
Cap each beer right after you fill the bottle, this will keep compromising nasty air particles out. Naming and labeling your beer can be good fun. I recommend including information like style, gravity, and average alcohol by volume (ABV).
Step 12: Waiting
The finished beer will take another two to four weeks to fully mature. Waiting to tap into your homebrew will be the hardest part, but may make all the difference. Even a few days can impact the flavor, carbonation, and gravity of your beer. Of course, since you now have a few cases on hand, it’s okay to let curiosity get the better of you—how else will you learn?
Step 13: Describing your unique craft beer
“Ashen molasses-smoked malting deepens wood-burnt hop-charred bittering to lactic mocha finish of viscous rum-barreled porter. Maple, cedar, and walnut seep into Black Forest caking, bringing brown chocolate sweetness to pureed black cherry tartness.”
Step 14: Rinse well, repeat often
Live up to what BYOB could be. What could be better than keeping your fridge stocked with ounces-upon-ounces of unique homebrews? Equipment is relatively cheap and a few simple ingredients will yield phenomenal results.
Bonus Tip: After you brew, label and save a few from every batch so you can create verticals, taste your improvement, and understand what went into making your favorite batch.
If you are a home brewer with a story to share, please comment below and link to your favorite site on the subject!
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