Friday, November 28, 2014

Brew 1 - Amber Ale

Chris and I consider ourselves to be well accomplished on the demand side of the brewing process.

Rather than taking pot shots at the brewing skills of others, we've decided to take the plunge and start brewing for ourselves.  I can be fairly certain that after going through the pains of this process, I'll never be so critical of the beer of others again.

For our first brew we headed down to the Ballast Point Home Brew Mart and picked up their starter kit #2. If you're getting started in brewing, I'd highly recommend a visit to these guys.  They're very helpful and have lots of great ingredients and equipment on hand.  Our prime purchases being a glass carboy and plastic bottling bucket.  We also got some of the basics like a racking cane, bottling tube, bottle capper, caps, and hydrometer.  Trying to keep it simple for our first brew, we chose to go with an amber ale recipe.

And so we were brewing.  Here's a video of Chris stirring our wort:

 Lessons Learned:

1. Water management is important.  Prior to starting our boil we didn't realize that we should have already boiled and chilled a few gallons of water.  This would come back to bite us when we didn't have the chilled water to top our fermenter up to 5 gallons, or to help with the final cooling of our wort.
2. Create a checklist for brews.  I also forgot to take the yeast out of the fridge the night before the brew, so we had to delay our brew start in order to give it enough time to warm to room temperature.  Having a simple checklist would have helped avoid this and the water blunder.
3. For steeping, it really is fine to simply kill the heat when you get your water to 160 degrees.  We had thought that we'd need to manage the amount of gas we gave to our water once we hit 160.  This nearly resulted in us heating our water too hot.
4. Be very attentive to your wort as it approaches boiling.  We had a minor boil over, which resulted in me having to scrub the stove top when we were done.  Not fun.

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