Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guinness Part 2

Okay, so after boiling up the wort, it has to cool down to around 72 degrees. This can take a while if you're stuck with the bathtub full of cold water method, as we are. In the warmer months, it's just about as long as it takes to go the movies, conveniently enough. Once your wort is cool, it's time to strain out the hops and any other lumpy things, and get it set up in the "ale pail" or fermentation bucket.

You can sort of see the hops there - they look like big oatmeal grains. After this is done, it's time to pitch the yeast, i.e. throw the yeast in. During this whole process, we've been letting the yeast packet start, so that the yeast are all fired up and ready to go. You can see how big the originally flat packet has gotten.

So, without much ado, it gets dumped in, then we aerate...or, well, just stir it up a lot, to make sure there's enough oxygen for the yeast.

After it's all shook up, as it were, it's time to add more water - until you hit the 5 gallon mark on the ole bucket. Some people say you spring water, but others say tap is just fine - that all the "stuff" in tap water lets the flavors cling to something. Adding in the water is another great chance to incorporate more air into the mix. After that, you slap on the air tight lid, put your airlock in the hole, and just let 'er go. Fermentation has begun, so it has to be kept between 68-72 degrees, and out of bright light, so our bucket is living in the coat closet this time. Here's a shot of the airlock bubbling away the next day.

The main fermentation doesn't have to take that long - ours seemed tapped out after just 2-3 days. At this point, we "rack it," or syphon it out of the first fermentation bucket into the glass carboy, to let it keep fermenting away from the sediment.

And here's how she is right now, looking very dark and delicious. It'll spend another two weeks in this second fermentation, then we'll be ready to prime and bottle. Priming is adding one last additional shot of sugar to allow for the carbonation. Factory beer is pasteurized, to kill all the yeast (cause it'll make ya sick), so the beer we buy is force carbonated in order to be bubbly. This batch we're going to try priming with some of the powdered malt, instead of corn sugar. Hopefully we'll get a better, less sweet taste than in the past. I'll make sure to post about the bottling process in a few weeks. A five gallon batch usually yields about 50 bottles, or 2 cases. It's fun, but veeerrry messy.

As a parting shot, here's what the spent hops look like:

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I've always wanted to know the process for making beer. Cool! I wish I could be there to pop one open with you guys :)