Sunday, January 30, 2011

Boggy Hollow Beer

I started brewing my own beer last year. When Chelle got into making wine I obsessively decided to bottle a batch of rhubarb too quickly and one of the corks shot off in our pantry because it hadn't finished fermenting. At that point she looked at me and said, "maybe wine isn't your thing, you should try beer. It doesn't take as long.".

Well, she's right. This morning I started my 10th batch. I've had wins and losses with the beer and knock on wood it's been a while since one turned out weird. Today I started an Altbier, literally "old beer" in German. It's a style popular in Duseldorf and brewed well before the lagers became popular in Germany. Here's the recipe....

7.5 lbs Amber Dry Malt Extract
.5 lbs Light Dry Malt Extract
1 lb Crystal Malt (60 lv)
.5 lbs Chocolate Malt
1 oz Galena Hops
1 oz Perle Hops
Wyeast German Ale (#1007) smack pack of yeast

My rig is pretty simple since I do extract brewing right now. Extract brewing let's you get started and make good beers pretty easily. All grain brewers need more gear and have a lot more steps to go through so this is a good way to experiment and make yummy beer at the same time. Basically, I have a pot and boiler. You can use a stovetop but the crab-cooker is really good at getting things up to temperature where you need them to be and it does it in a hurry. I had to run out and buy a new propane bottle this morning though. I had finally run through the bottle I had...

Part of this recipe involves taking some of the ground up grains of crystal and chocolate malt and steeping them for a while. This adds some flavor to the malt extract base and gives you a lot of options for flavor in the beer. I used a grain bag to steep the grains because you want to remove them after steeping them at temperature for a while and it's always a doosie to get all of the husks out.

Then we add the malt extract, galena hops and start boiling. The boil lasts an hour and I had some serious boil-over problems this morning. I think that and shorting the extract for the recipe are why the specific gravity for the beer turned out a bit low. Specific gravity is a measure of density. The denser the wort (or stuff that you boil up) the more sugars there are for the yeasties to eat and turn into alcohol and other goodies. This won't be a strong amber but it should be a goodie...

Half way through the boil I add the perle hops. Then I can turn my attention to sanitation. Sanitizing the fermentation vessel is critical. There are lots of things that would love to eat that wort before the yeast get to it and they will ruin the beer most of the time so I setup the carboy on the counter and use an iodine solution to make sure that it's nice and sanitized.....

Once that's done it's about time to cool off the wort and strain it into the carboy. Chelle got me a lovely new toy. It's called a wort chiller and what it does is run cold water through a copper coil that you place in the wort. The copper tubing allows the heat of the wort to exchange to the cold water running through the coil making an hour long wait come down to about 10 minutes. Snazzy trick. Then you pour the wort into the carboy and top off with clean cold water....

Then the whole thing goes into the basement to ferment. This style of beer will ferment quickly and then be transferred to another carboy to go into the fridge to lager for 10-14 days. The lagering is an old German trick that smooths out the taste and clears the beer an extra bit. So now the beer sits in the basement, waiting for the yeast to feast and make delicious beer.

My goal this year is to make at lest one batch a month. I nearly missed January! I'll start a batch of my imperial stout (that has met good success) next weekend and enter it into a contest for March. After that will either be a Kolsch, Belgian Wit Beer or an IP. Beer is way too much fun!

1 comment:

  1. I would love to make this myself especially with the chocolate malt. I have in the past used the beer kits from the supermarket and made some with sucess and tasted my fathers when I was little but this seems a little too complicated. I will need to look at it again to get my head around it. Wouldnt mind making my own stout.