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April 19, 2011

American Pale Ale April 16, 2011

As I mentioned in my previous post, we brewed on Saturday, April 16, 2011.  We used an archived recipe that we brewed originally on October 3, 2009.  To date, this has been my favorite homebrew that we have brewed since we started brewing again in '09.  I rated this at a 4.5 (I have yet to give any homebrew of ours a 5-star rating, just because I can always find a slight flaw) and Gary and Byron each gave it a 4 (I think it was a little stronger than they were anticipating and it went to their heads).

American Pale Ale recipe:
9 lbs US 2-Row
10 oz Crystal 60L
10 oz Crystal 40L
10 oz Crystal Special B
1/2 lb Carapils
Hops and Adjuncts:
1/2 oz Goldings @ 60 mins.
1 oz Cascade @ 15 mins.
1 Whirfloc Tablet (Irish Moss) @ 15 mins.
1/2 oz Goldings - to be dryhopped when racking to secondary
1/2 oz Cascade - to be dryhopped when racking to secondary
2 1/2 tsp Gelatin Finings - to be added 2 days before kegging
Mash 4 gal Water @ 152F 90 mins.
Boil 90 mins.
Safale US-05 Dry Yeast from starter with wort

What does all of that mean, you may ask.  Well, this is an all-grain batch of brew that should mimic an American Pale Ale.  The first time we made this we ended with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 6.5%.  Now that's a heady brew!

I'll go through the basic steps as well as the equipment.  Firstly, you will need a large kettle or mash tun to "mash" your grains.  A mash simply extracts the sugars from the grains and leaves the starches behind.
This is what our mash tun, which we also use as a brew kettle looks like:

It is basically a 15-gallon keg that has been converted into a kettle.  Our local homebrew store sold us everything you will see except the propane tank.

Yes, we brewed in our garage.  We were expecting some bad weather.  Note how nice it is outside in this photo.  More on that later.

Step one was to get the mash water to the proper temperature for the mash.  We calculated the amount of water that we would need based on the number of pounds of grain in the recipe.  The formula is # pounds of grain X 1.4  / 4 = # gallons of water.  To heat the mash water we used a propane burner (shown above) and a floating thermometer (shown below).  Once our water was to the desired temperature (155 degrees F), we added our grains.
As you can see, we have the thermometer in the "mash" to ensure that we keep a constant temperature.  After we added the grains came a wait period of 90 minutes while the grains steeped in the water.  Mash times will vary and the usual mash time is 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, Gary (that's what we'll call the hubby) was working on sanitizing the equipment that we would need for later and making sure we had enough water in case the power went out.  Note we had the TV tuned to The Weather Channel for updates.

During the last 30 minutes of the mash (seen on the left), we heated the "sparge" water to a temperature of 175 degrees F. 

Sparging is a the process of extracting the Wort (sweet liquid that is unfermented beer) from the grains slowly so that you do not disturb the grain bed.  Here Gary has put the heated sparge water in the white bucket with a lid to keep the temperature, then has a small hose slowly dripping the sparge water into the grains.  Our friend "Byron" is putting the tube on the spout at the bottom of the mash tun so that the wort will drain slowly into a vessel.  This process usually yields about 6 gallons of wort.  The wort will boil down to a little less than 5 gallons in the next phase, so you need to have enough to allow for the boil-off.

Before putting the sparge in our pot to transfer back to the brew kettle, Gary "recycled" some back into the mash and also filled a jar to start our yeast.  When using a dry yeast, you need to activate it by adding it to a sugary liquid.  We used to use dextrose and water, but found that the wort worked just as well and was free.  We like free. 
After this, Gary refrigerated the wort until it was a little cooler because adding yeast to hot liquid kills it, then added the yeast.  More on the yeast in a bit.

This is what the wort looks like as it is extracted from the mash.  It tastes wonderful, like the inside of a malted milk ball.  Yum!

Still sparging.  This takes time.  Don't rush it!  Notice how dark it has gotten?

Meanwhile, the yeast has started to work (notice that radar?).

Finally finished sparging.  I wish I could get the aroma into the picture.  My garage smelled fantastic!

These are the spent grains.  We've gotten all of their sugar, so we're going to dump them and clean out the kettle for the brew.

The brew has just started to boil.  We will keep it at a rolling boil for 90 minutes. 

Look at that yeast!  It's ready to go!

The power started flickering and we look out to find it's hailing outside.  For the record, this our second hailstorm during a brew.  At least we were indoors this time!
As I told you before, friends follow the brew.  A few friends always show up while we're brewing.  Dwight Evan (far left) was there for the duration and Daphne (seated behind Jasper, who is standing), Tyler, Mason and Joseph came in during the mash and stayed for the party.
We added the hops at the specified times and put the wort chiller, which is a coil of copper tubing that you run cold water through in order to cool the wort quickly, in to help to ensure it was sanitized by the boil.

The wort chiller is in and connected to a water hose to chill the wort so that we can transer it into the 6 gallon carboy to ferment.
Before putting the wort in the carboy, we took a sample to test it's gravity with a hydrometer.  In order to find out the alcohol content of your beer, you need a starting gravity (SG) reading and a finishing gravity (FG) reading.  Once you have these  readings you can calculate the alcohol content (ABV) using the following formula: SG - FG x 1.347 = ABV.  Our SG on this beer was 1.056.
We then transferred the wort into the sanitized carboy using a sanitized tube, funnel and strainer.  If the strainer gets clogged druing the transfer, use a sanitized spoon to stir until the liquid comes through.
After checking the wort temperature again to ensure it was 65-75 degrees, we pitched the yeast and capped the fermenter with a water-filled airlock and rubber stopper.  The airlock is vital to beer brewing since the two biggest enemies of good beer are air and light.  Remember that the next time you drink a beer that comes in a clear bottle.  The darker the bottle, the better the beer.
The party grew when our friend Trey arrived and decided beer pong was in order.

We put the beer in an interior closet so that it will stay at a constant temperature and covered it to ensure no light would reach it.  Yes, that is a t-shirt that we used to keep it dark. 
We checked on it on Sunday to make sure that it was fermenting and this is what we saw.  It's working!  We will keep an eye on it for the next few days and probably rack it into the secondary fermenter this weekend or early next week.

That's the process for our April APA.  We hope it will taste as good, if not better than it did when we brewed it back in '09.  I will post updates when we rack it into the secondary, keg it and finally enjoy it.

1 comment:


    Hey BeerWench, golddog here from the forums. I also used to homebrew, but have gotten away from it. I was never the "from scratch" like you, just get the syrup and off I went.

    I can't remember if you've told me you had a dog, but if so, be warned that they can be sppoked by the bubbling as fermentation is going on. Depending on the dog, they might look at the carboy quizzically when it releases gas, or they might attack it.

    Looks really good, hope you enjoy. Since you're not going to be wasting time playing poker this summer, you & Mr. Wench (gigolo? What's a male wench) bring a couple cases of your creation out this way... ;-)