Friday, February 19, 2010

Blessed are the Beermakers pt. 1 - The Recipe

This is the first part of a several part series covering my second attempt at home-brewing beer. Not that my first attempt was unsuccessful, it was quite successful in my mind, as I made a serviceable Brown Ale. I didn't document my first go and regretted that. From now on I'll be documenting each subsequent attempt.

Preface -
My first batch of beer was made from a canned extract, which means that I opened a can of a concentrated wort syrup (very simply, a wort is the solution of grain, hops and water that is the basis for the future beer, companies concentrate them into syrups for the homebrewer's market) and boiled it with a few gallons of water to make my own wort. I then cooled that wort and moved it to a special fermentation bucket and added yeast for fermentation.

After my first go I do not consider myself by any means an expert in the field, or even all that proficient, but I did feel like I was ready to up the challenge ante a bit. So I moved from the full extract "wort in a can" approach to what is called the "Extract with Grains" method. The "Extract with Grains" method means that I would be using a Malt Extract base and choosing a few grains of my own choosing to build the flavor profile.I think of it like this: if you are building a house you have a few options for foundation. You can have concrete, pier and beam, stilted, etc. Less than 10 choices total, let's say. Virtually every house on the planet is built on one of these types of foundations, and beers are very similar to that. The "Malt" is the foundational base of the beer and what ever kind of beer you are making starts with one of a few types of Malt bases. Many homebrewers buy the malt in extract form because it's difficult to make and doesn't offer a whole lot of customization options, a concrete foundation is a concrete foundation. "Real" beermakers will make their own malt so that they are in control of the flavor profile from start to finish. So I'm not making my own malt, I trust the malt extract available to me and add my own profile of grains. Which brings us to...

Step 1: The Recipe -

As I stated, while I feel comfortable with the process, I'm not by any means expert, so I did not write a recipe for the beer I would make. I went to the homebrew store with two goals in mind: 1. Up the ante with the "Extract with Grains" method 2. Move to a "Two Stage Fermentation Process (more detail later)" The only thing I knew about the recipe was that I wanted to make an Irish Red Ale. So Kayla and I drove down to Homebrew Headquarters in Richardson, propped my elbows up on the counter and told the Shopkeep about my plan for my second go at the process. I told him I did not however have a recipe in mind and that I would trust his judgment for a good recipe for Irish Red. He pulled the following for me:

6.25 lbs Pale Ale Malt extract
3oz. Crystal Malt Grain
7oz. Roasted Barley
1lb 6oz. Pail Ale Malt Grain
8 AAU (Acid Alpha Units) of UK Target Hop Pellets
11g. Nottingham Brewer's Yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae)
1 cup Corn Sugar for Priming

He also milled the grain for me and grabbed me some new equipment (Grain Sock, Glass Carboy, and Hop Sock ) for the more complicated process. With my bucket of syrup and bag of milled grain, and new hardware, I headed home to start the fun.

Part 2 Coming Soon.

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