Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

amwheat001Just pulled the switch on my first-ever all-grain brew, an American wheat beer for the hot, hot days of July that are almost here already!

Wait, half the summer is gone? What the hell?

Whatever. I got the recipe from an on-line forum and from all reports it’s eminently drinkable. Well, duh. It’s beer. But more important than that, it’s simple. Mash the grain, boil the wort, add the hops, done. Leaving me plenty of time to pat myself on the back for doing it right but also, as I so often do, to fret over what I may be doing wrong.

The first thing I did wrong, for instance, was that I didn’t crack open a brew to properly inaugurate my basement brewery. I’m probably never gonna forgive myself for that.

Anyway, wish me luck. Updates when I can make them.

amwheat002Update #1 – Lessons Learned:

1. With 5500 watts of blistering electric heat, this kettle can BOIL! THE! SNOT! out of any wort I can put into it! So it’s very important not to position it beneath the air conditioning ducts where condensed water will rain down on the kettle and all that yummy beer cooking inside. Yeah. Remember that. If I’m going to keep on doing this in the basement, and I certainly aim to, then I’ll have to find an exhaust fan that can move a shit-ton of very humid air out the window very quickly.

2. Keep track of your hops. I dropped a hop sock with 1/3 ounce Magnum hops into the boil kettle, my usual practice back in extract-brewing days, and never saw it again. When I was boiling in a two-gallon kettle, I had no problem finding a lost hop sock with my stir spoon. In a 10-gallon keggle, very big problem. Insurmountable problem, really. I was a little worried it would get hung up on the heating element and burn, but I kept checking and never found it there, so fingers crossed it didn’t hurt anything.

3. Find another way to estimate the amount of water I need. I used a calculation I found on-line to figure that I needed 10 gallons of water due to grain absorption, boil-off and so on. I didn’t need anywhere near that amount. I ended up with 8.5 gal in the keggle so I ended up needing to boil the wort one hell of a lot longer than the 1 hour that the recipe called for.

amwheat003Update #2 – Lessons Learned:

4. When walking through all the steps to make beer, don’t forget the one that goes, “Then cool the wort down from boiling to 70 degrees F, because BOILING wort kills yeast, and dead yeast don’t make beer!” How did I forget that? Or, to put the question more accurately, how did I forget to make sure I’d be able to do that step? Because I have a wort chiller, and I knew I would have to use it, but I neglected to see if it would fit inside my boil kettle, which it does, and still stick out the top, which it does NOT. If the hoses don’t stick out the top, it doesn’t work. (There’s a more technical explanation that involves melting vinyl and off-flavors in your beer, but I’m trying to keep it simple here.) So when I got to the part about cooling down the wort I had to kind of wing it, draining it into the fermentation bucket, then plunging the wort chiller into the bucket and hoping like hell it would work that way. It did. But my nerves won’t be able to take winging it no more, so I’ll have to find some other way.

And then, the cleanup. I could do without that part. Haven’t figured out how to talk somebody else into doing it for me, though.

American wheat | 9:36 am CST
Category: beer, food & drink, hobby, homebrewing, play
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