Beer

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Beer is a fantastic beverage.  It is the perfect pairing with almost any meal, and a fantastic social lubricant.  The best part is, beer is easy to make!  A perfect comparison is making a giant batch of tea.  Most of your efforts will be going towards sanitation, temperature control, and packaging.  I’ll lay out my basic brewing process here.  Recipes and specialized methods can be found on other posts.

Here’s my typical brew day:

The night before I brew, I plan out my recipe, double check all ingredients, and crush grains.  I also turn up my house’s hot water to max – which comes out at about 150degF

The next day, I start by heating strike water.  This is the water that will mash in with the crushed grain.  I want it to be about 10 degrees higher than the temperature I’m targeting (assuming room temp grains.)  I mash at 1.5 quarts per pound of grain.

I mix in grain and water and add small amounts boiling and ice water to achieve my target temperature.  The mash will now rest for 60-90 minutes.  While this is going on I set up for vorlauf, get out my boil kettle, and “sparge arm.”  20 min before the mash is complete I will start heating sparge water to 175degF.

When mashing is complete, I vorlauf for 5 minutes.  This filters out the beer prior to the boil.  The sweet wort is then run to the boil kettle.  Once the kettle is 30% full, I hit it with heat, hard.

I fly sparge as I find it gives me the best efficiency.  When my kettle is full, I hit a boil within 20 minutes or so.

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I use a hopblocker or a screen in the bottom of my kettle, I find it gives me good filtration.  In addition, I use a hop spider or hop bag to prevent too much trub.  I also use Fermicap in the boil to prevent boilovers (it has also been shown to increase head retention.)

To sanitize my system, I run StarSan through the whole setup to ensure cleanliness.

After boiling, I vorlauf quickly to ensure no hop material has made it past the hop blocker.  Then its through the plate chiller and into a sanitized fermenter.  I hit it with some oxygen and let it go.

I do not secondary ferment in an additional carboy.  I let my primary sit for 1-3 weeks, then rack to a keg and serve.

 

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