Home brewing

An experiment in brewing beer.

At Christmas my son gave me a kit for brewing craft beer, from CraftABrew.com. We finally found some time to get the project underway in mid-March – and just today were able to sample the results. How’d it come out? read on.

Beer, bottled and ready to age for two weeks.

Four weeks ago we steeped the hops & barley for 20 mins to form the wort, bringing the wort to a boil, stirring in the malt extract, then boiling it for an hour. Then, after icing down the pot until the wort reached room temperature, we siphoned the liquid into the carboy – a gallon jug – and poured in the yeast. We capped and shook the carboy vigorously to dissolve the yeast and to mix oxygen into the mixture. Then we capped it off with a rubber stopper, with the siphon tube rising up and out into a glass of water – to allow any foam or gasses to escape but not allow room air (and its contaminants) to sneak in.

Beer, fermenting in the basement.

After two weeks of fermentation, I retrieved the jug from the basement. Some of the green solids (grains that must have seeped through the cloth during steeping) had risen with the gas and foam and into the tube.

Beer, after fermentation and ready to bottle.

I cleaned out the tube and sanitized some empty bottles – some from beer and some from lemonade. We were then ready to siphon the beer up out of the carboy through a racking cane (glass tube) and down the flexible tube into a pot. It was tricky to get the siphon flowing, and to avoid sucking up any of the solids.

Beer, siphoning out of the fermentation jug.

In the pot already were 2 tablespoons of sugar, dissolved in a bit of water. After the beer was fully transferred, we stirred it all together, placed the pot on the counter, and set up the siphon again – this time, to siphon beer from the pot into the bottles. The result was five large bottles, each tightly capped.

Beer, bottled and ready to age for two weeks.

These went back to the basement for another two weeks. The aging process allows time for the remaining yeast to reproduce and create gas, carbonating the beer.

Finally, after chilling a bottle, we opened one – with a satisfying POP! – and poured the beer into glass – resulting in a smooth pour and a good head.

Beer, finished and ready to drink. Ahhhh!

It tasted great – very mild, a bit acidic, but definitely like one might expect of an American Pale Ale. Cheers!

I’ve left two the bottles in the basement, one to age another week and the other to age another two weeks, to see if they might benefit from a bit more aging.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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