Brewing

First let us tell you that the intention of this page is not to tell you how to make beer, but to provide information on how to make your favorite micro and pub beers from The South. This book assumes that you are already an extract or all-grain home brewer, with a general knowledge of how to make beer. With that said we do intend to give you some advice on how to make beer in ways that might improve upon your current techniques and improve the quality of the beer you are brewing. There are as many different ways to mash and sparge and boil and cool and ferment and rack and package and drink beer as there are people in the world drinking beer. There are many very good books out there that you can purchase that will help you to become a better brewer, it all depends on how you use the information you seek.

Some books that vastly improved the beer design and brewing techniques I have put together to be MY way of brewing beer are Ray Daniels “Designing Great Beers”, Gregg Noonan’s “New Brewing Lager Beer”, “The beer styles” books from Brewers Publications, and certainly the first beer book I ever purchased and studied until the pages about fell apart “The New Complete Joy of Home brewing” by the grandfather of American Home brewing Charlie Papazian. Please look at these books, as I am sure they will help you to improve your brewing knowledge and skill. Many other books are out there, Dave Millers “Home Brewing Guide” and “Complete Handbook of Home brewing”, and Randy Mosher’s  “The Brewers Companion” to name several others.

Key Assumptions of Recipes
A single temperature infusion mash is recommended for all recipes on the site. Some brewers do use step infusion and decoction mashing methods. These are advanced forms of mashing and require a bit more attention to detail and experience than single infusion mashing. Temperatures are listed for the recipes that are mashed in these ways, as is a suggested temperature for a single infusion mash.

All of the recipes in this book are for making 5 gallons of product. All recipes call for a full 6-gallon boil, and expect a 10% reduction of wort during a 60-minute boil (Just over a 1/2 gallon. You may loose up to a gallon depending on your heat source, kettle or pot size and other factors, but don’t worry it will be compensated for). You will need to boil down to 5 gallons of wort to hit the target gravities listed in the book. If your boil does not reduce the amount of wort down to 5 gallons you need to adjust how full you fill your brew pot during your next brewing session to accommodate this fact. The amounts of grain listed will give the proper specific gravities for 5 gallons of fermenting wort.

All recipes call for the use of pellet hops. If you use whole leaf hops please increase the hop amounts by 10%. If you are brewing with a pot that holds 5 gallons or less then you need to increase the bittering hop addition for all recipes by about 30% to make up for the utilization decrease in a concentrated boil.
Extract recipes assume you will steep crushed grains in 3 gallons of 150 degree F water for the 30 minute time period before adding additional water up to the 6-gallon level (You can use the standard mash-in amount of 1 quart of water per pound of grain to steep in if you choose).

Wort should be cooled by means of an immersion or counter-flow wort chiller. Concentrated boils (say 4.5 gallons or less pre-boil volume) may be cooled by adding hot wort to 2 to 2.5 gallons of pre-chilled water in your fermenter. ADD the COLD water to the fermenter FIRST to avoid cracking a glass carboy.

Check final gravities of full wort boils and if your gravity at the end of the boil is above the target gravity then add the appropriate amount of sterile water to adjust your gravity to the correct starting reading. For example: if you have 5 gallons of 1048 (12 plato) boiled wort and your target gravity is 1046 (11.5 plato) then to find out how much water needs to be added to hit your target multiply 5 (gallons) by 48 (12 plato) gravity and you get 240 (60). Divide this number by your target 46 (11.5) , and you get 5.21 gallons needed to have the correct starting gravity. Add .21 gallons to the wort. If your gravity at the end of the boil is below your target then you will need to boil a bit longer to concentrate your wort to the correct reading. To find out how much wort you will need to boil off simply follow the same calculation as above, 5 gallons x 11 plato boiled wort = 55. Divided by your target of 11.5 = 4.7 gallons you need to boil down to. Or you can just use the gravity you have at the end of the boil and not worry about it; your beer will turn out just fine!

All beers should be fermented as close to the recommended temperatures listed for each recipe. If you cannot control fermentation temperature then relax, don’t worry, and do what Charlie does. Have a…. Lager recipes can be brewed with ale yeast at room temperatures to make good ale-versions of the lager beers. They will be esterier and obviously ale-like (they will be ales after all), but will still be fine beers to drink and enjoy. Ale should be fermented for 4-7 days in a primary fermenter and then transferred and aged for 1 week in a secondary glass carboy. Two to three weeks may be necessary for brews of higher gravity and for some ale strains that produce sulfur compounds (Kolsch and some Scottish-type strains). If you do not have a secondary GLASS carboy for aging leave your beer in the primary bucket for 7 to 14 days before you package the beer. Make sure fermentation has stopped before you bottle the beer by using a hydrometer to check the finishing gravity (same reading 2 to 3 days in a row).

Lagers should be fermented cold at suggested temperatures for each yeast strain (47-55 degrees) and then aged for 1 to 2 months before bottling. Transferring the lager to a secondary carboy is a topic of debate in my brewing circles. Personally I transfer the beer to a secondary after 1 month, and lager for another month before packaging. The lager yeast needs time to reabsorb flavor compounds produced by the fermentation in the primary fermenter. Ferment lager in glass carboys, or if you start a lager fermentation in a plastic bucket then transfer it to a carboy as soon as the 14 days have transpired. Oxygen can permeate the plastic and will not be scrubbed out of solution resulting in oxidized flavors in the beer.

Prime the beer in a separate priming bucket with 3/4 cups corn sugar or 1 1/4 cups Dried Malt Extract for a maltier brew, per 5 gallons of wort. Bottle the beer in cleaned and sanitized bottles and age 2 weeks at room temperature before you consume them.

The Stages of Brewing – an overview
Sanitation

Nothing needs to be mentioned before sanitation does. Ask ten brewers in this book what is most important in their breweries and all ten will tell you sanitation. Before you begin your brewing session rinse all of your equipment and soak it in a bucket full of sanitizer other than your fermenting bucket (you don’t want to scratch the fermenter). Items that don’t need a sanitizer soak but only a good scrub and rinse is your mashing bucket if brewing with all-grain, and your boil pot.

We recommend keeping a small squirt bottle full of isopropyl alcohol handy for sanitation purposes. Squirting the mouth of your carboy, funnel and yeast package when you are ready to put your cooled wort in to a carboy is a good habit to practice. A quick squirt around the opening of the fermenting bucket won’t hurt either. Do so just before transferring wort in the bucket and after replacing the lid and airlock to the bucket.

Many books list different types of sanitizers and cleaners that can be used in brewing. Check with your local homebrew supplier to see what chemicals they sell and look at all of the instructions for their use to determine the ones that best suite your needs. Personal favorites include good old bleach as a soaker in dirty carboys, iodophor as a sanitizer, and B-brite as a cleaner for pots, buckets and carboys. Just remember to rinse everything before you use it, and to follow the directions for the product you are using. One home brewer I know uses bleach for everything with good results. Always rinse bleach with hot water and never mix bleach with other cleaning chemicals. Do not leave bleach solutions soaking overnight in plastic containers, as the bleach will leach into the plastic. Soak for a good 30 minuets and then dump and rinse the equipment. Bleach will also eat through a pot quicker than you can say GONE so avoid bleach in your metal pots and kegs. Stainless can be pitted and aluminum pots will simply have small holes eaten away through their bottoms rendering them useless.

Mashing and Sparging

A majority of home brewers reading this book will come to this section and may skip it, saying to themselves I am an extract brewer so Ill just skip this section. Please don’t. You can make great beer as an extract brewer, but owning the knowledge of how to make beer from all grain will only improve the ways you look at your brew even if you do not own a mash bucket and brew all-grain beer. The authors are both an extract brewer, Bobby, and an all-grain brewer, David. We both have had great success brewing beers using both methods. Many brewers beers have won awards and medals that were brewed with extract, so don’t let an all-grain brewer tell you that great beer cannot be brewed with extract!

There are several things you need to remember when brewing all-grain and we will discuss them briefly. First make sure your grain is crushed, not pulverized into flour. The most common types of mills are roller mills and Corona mills. Your home brew shop should have one handy if you don’t own one. You want the husk to be crushed so that the inside of the grain kernel is exposed and will be readily accessible by the enzymes you will activate in the mash.

We recommend a single temperature infusion mash. It is easier for the brewer to handle than other types of mashing regimes, which we will mention later. For single temperature infusion mashing mix roughly 1 quart of water to every pound of crushed grain in the mash bucket. Cover the bottom screen of the mash tun with an inch of water before slowly adding equal amounts of hot water and grain while stirring the mixture into a gooey mash that has the look of hot breakfast cereal. The water needs to be 18-20 degrees hotter than the desired mash resting temperature. The exact temperature your mash rests at will determine the types of enzymes activated that will convert the starchy grain into sugary fermentable wort.

For a fully fermentable wort that will result in a beer that is drier and has less body, shoot for a target mash temperature of 149-150 F. For a beer with some body and some dextrines (complex sugars) aim for a mash rest of 151-153, and shoot for 154-158 for a less fermentable wort that will result in a very full bodied beer. Allow the mash to rest for 60 minutes to 90 minutes. The longer the mash rests the more starch will be converted into sugar, although after a certain point the amount of conversion taking place is minimal.

You can test to see if the mash is converted after 60 minutes with iodine tincture. Extract a small amount of wort from the mash, excluding grainy husk material, and put it on a white plate. Then add a small amount of iodine tincture and watch the color. If there is little to no change then the starch has been converted to sugar. Deep red to ruby to black color change indicates not enough starch conversion and may require additional time in the mash bucket. Discard the iodine mixture and DO NOT TASTE IT!!! Iodine is poisonous and can harm you if ingested. Like wise use the plate for testing purposes only and do not wash it and place it back in with your dishes used for regular eating purposes. You can of course skip the iodine test and just scoop out a small amount of wort from the mash bucket and taste it. If the wort tastes sweet then you have conversion, if it is grainy and husky then you do not.

Next slowly remove about a quart of liquid from the bottom of your mash bucket into a small pot and carefully pour it back over the top of the grain in the mash bucket. Do this until the liquid is running clear from the mash bucket. Next begin to fill your boil pot with the wort, while sparging or rinsing the grain bed with hot 170 F water over the top. Maintain about a 1/2 to 1 inch level of water over the grain bed. The amount of water you add to the mash bucket should be at a rate equal to the amount of wort you are removing from the bucket. It should take you from 45 minutes to 1 hour to fill your boil pot with wort.

Other types of mashing are step infusion mashing and decoction mashing. Some brewers in this book do utilize these mashing regimes in the production of their beers. Step infusion mashing requires you create a thick mash at a lower starting temperature and then slowly add boiling water to your mash, as you need to raise the temperature of the mash to the next step or temperature level. Decoction mashing is similer but requires that a small portion of your thick mash, grain and all, be boiled and then added back to the main mash to raise the temperature. A single step mash can not recreate the flavors developed by a decoction mash, and to learn more about how to perform this interesting process check out Greg Noonan’s New Brewing Lager Beer. He describes the process expertly in Chapter 10, and Papazians New Complete Joy has good tables on page 297 for step infusion mashing. Also Bock by D. Richman has good information on these processes.

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Remember that our recipes are for 5 gallons of wort after you complete your boil. If you want 5 gallons of finished product after the fermentation is complete, you will need to begin with about 5 1/2 gallons of wort in the fermenter to account for racking and sediment loss. Using our recipes for 5 1/2 gallons of wort will produce a beer with a slightly lower starting specific gravity. To adjust for this volume difference you will need to add more malt to your mash or more extract to your boil. Generally it is easy to add a small amount of dried malt extract to the boil. Every pound you add of dried malt will give you 1045 specific gravity points per gallon of wort. If the recipe calls for a starting gravity of 1048 for 5 gallons and you want to make 5.5 gallons of the same beer then you need to add ____ pounds of dried malt to make up the difference. How much? The math is simple: 48 x 5 = 240 gravity points needed for the brew. Divide 240 by 5.5 (your new target volume) = 43.6. Not quite the 48 points you need. The difference is 48 – 43.6 = 4.4 points of gravity needed. So how much dried malt do you add? 4.4 points needed x 5.5 = 24.2 divided by 45 points of gravity added from 1 pound of dried malt in 1 gallon of wort = .53 pounds. Confused? Ray Daniels describes this to great detail in his book Designing Great Beers. There is a whole chapter on this as a matter of fact.

Extracts

If you are brewing with extracts then there is no need for mashing. Extract is simply concentrated wort that you need to hydrate by adding water. Think of it as frozen orange juice that you put into a pitcher and add water to. Not the same as the fresh squeezed stuff, but it is still orange juice. You can greatly improve the quality of your beer by steeping some crushed grain in your boil pot prior to the boil. Simply place your crushed grain in a muslin grain sock and tie off the end. Place the sock in your boil pot with either 1-quart of water per pound of grain, or simply use 3 gallons of water as a standard amount (as long as you do not have more than 10 to 12 pounds of grain, in which case you need to be mashing anyway!). Heat the water up to 150 F and hold that temperature for 30 minutes. If the temperature of the water goes up to 170 F that is ok, but try to avoid temperatures higher than 170 F as undesirable tannin will be leached from the grain husk into your brew adding a harsh grainy flavor.

After 30 minutes have gone by remove the grain sock from the pot. Rinse the remaining liquid from the grain sock into your boil pot with some hot tap water and then fill your pot up to 6 gallons. Bring the entire amount of wort to a boil.

Boiling

your boil should last for at least 60 minutes. It should be a rolling, vigorous boil. This will insure that volatile flavor compounds are boiled off the wort, that the wort is sanitized, that proteins will precipitate out of solution and coagulate together resulting in a clearer finished product, and that hop bitterness and aroma are added to your brew.

You should always try to add some Irish moss and yeast nutrient to the boil pot for the last 15 to 30 minutes of the boil. The Irish moss will help to coagulate protein, and the yeast nutrient will help the freshly added yeast to grow, multiply and produce a vigorous fermentation. You can also put your immersion wort chiller into the pot for the last 15 to 30 minutes as well in order to sanitize it.

Bittering hops are added towards the beginning of the boil for 60 minutes or more. Flavor hops are boiled for 15 to 30 minutes. These hops will add a flavor characteristic of that hop variety to the beer. Not all of the hops oils will be boiled away and this will leave some aromatic qualities of the hop in the wort. Complete isomerzation (the act of chemically bonding the hop compounds that bitter the beer to the wort) of the hop will not occur, only some bitterness will be added to the brew. Finally aroma hops, that will give the beer a pleasant aroma such as in an American IPA, will be added last. Actual bitterness is not added to the beer by these hops, but perceived bitterness from the hop oils will add to the hoppy character of a beer. The oils themselves will carry over to the finished product and be released into the air by escaping carbon dioxide when you open and pour a brew adding a complex and pleasing hop aroma to the beer drinking experience. As mentioned in other sections of this book, we recommend the use of pellet hops as they are much easier to handle, although dry hopping (adding hops to the secondary fermenter) with fresh hop cones is a rewarding experience.

Many recipes in this book call for a 90-minute boil. This is longer than most home brewers are accustomed to boiling their wort. If you want to boil for only 60 minutes as opposed to 90 minutes you please do so. If you use the listed amount of hops for the 90-minute boil in a 60-minute boil the resulting beer will not be as bitter as the value listed in the book. How much less? you ask. 1 ounce of 5.3 % alpha acid Cascade hops boiled in 5 gallons of 1048 (12 plato) wort will yield 25.97 IBU’s if boiled for 90 minutes. All things being equal a 60-minute boil will yield 24.38 IBU’s of bitterness. It is difficult for a person to taste a difference of 5 IBU in a beer, so the 1.59 IBU difference in this example is minimal. Remember, we are just making beer and it is supposed to be fun.

Cooling

Your boiled wort should be cooled as quickly as possible to avoid contamination. Imagine all of the places bacteria and mold like to grow, warm and moist environments. Add sugar to the mix and this describes your just boiled wort to perfection! Bacteria will jump at the chance to get growing in your wort, so it is best to cool it as quickly as possible. The best two methods of achieving this are by the use of an immersion type wort chiller or a counter flow wort chiller. They can be purchased at your local supply store or you can build one. The immersion chiller David uses was built for $15 in 1994 and is still in use! Many homebrew books including Noonan’s New Brewing Lager Beer, Charlie Papazian’s New Complete Joy…. diagram the steps to build a chiller.
Some folks like to immerse their boil pot in an ice bath in the sink, or up north during the winter months some use a convenient snow bank to cool their wort. However a concentrated boil can be cooled quickly by putting 3 gallons of bottled water in the freezer after you begin your boil. Remove them after the boil is completed and add 2.5 gallons of near freezing water to your fermenting vessel. Top this off with your hot wort, and then top the vessel up to 5 1/2 gallons with the remaining water. The temperature will be in the 70 to 80 degree range. Easy as 1,2,3!!!

Fermentation

This stage of the brewing process is where brewers yeast is added to the cooled wort and allowed to consume the sugars produced in the mash. The by products of this process, alcohol and carbon dioxide, are what turn wort into beer. Ray Daniels has an excellent chapter on yeast in his book Designing Great Beers, that can be very informative to the novice brewer.

There are three major categories of brewers yeast, ale, lager and wheat or weizen. Ale and weizen yeasts tend to ferment at similer, warmer temperatures while lager yeast tends to ferment at cooler temperatures. The warmer the fermentation temperature the more esters and fruity flavors that are generally developed in the resulting beer. The cooler the fermentation temperature the less esters and fruity flavors that are produced by the yeast. Most of these flavors are developed during the beginning phases of fermentation.

How much yeast do I need to pitch? you ask. Noonan suggests pitching .5 to .6 fluid ounces of pasty, thick yeast for each gallon of wort or up to 1 fluid ounce per gallon when a strong start is needed. Generally if you use a pitchable yeast package pitching rates should not be a concern, remember the idea is to have fun. Smack packs should be grown up in a starter for best results, but you do not have to although we would suggest it.

Yeast can also be pitched from the bottom of a carboy of beer you made the week or two prior. Simply rack the beer to a secondary carboy and then pour off the top amounts of yeast down the drain. The middle portion of yeast is what you are after; its color should be creamy white to tan. Swirl the bucket or carboy and pour the proper amount into your newly prepared wort. Yeast from a secondary fermenter should be avoided. This yeast is not as viable as the yeast in the primary fermenter.

It took longer to settle out of suspension and to work its magic and will only produce fermentations with longer lag times, higher finishing gravities, etc. This yeast can be cultured in a starter however and reused in that manner; it just will take you a few extra steps! Only re-pitch yeast that was originally from a liquid yeast source. Do not re-pitch dry yeast as the chances of contamination from mutated cells is much greater after the first generation.

Dry yeast should be hydrated before use. Use 7-14 grams of dry yeast per 5 gallons of wort. To hydrate the yeast simply sprinkle the dried yeast into approximately 10 times its own weight of sterile water or wort and stirred, then left to sit covered for 15 minutes. Then the creamy mixture is pitched into the fermenter with the awaiting wort at the appropriate temperature. This awakens the yeast and allows it to become acclimated to a new wet environment. Nine out of ten times I have brewed brew and used dry yeast I have not hydrated the yeast and it always works out fine. If you hydrate you should notice the wort starts fermenting quicker and by all means this is a good thing!

We recommend home brewers begin to ferment their lagers at ale temperatures (65-68 F) and then cool the fermentation down to lager temperatures (47-55 F). This is primarily because the amount of yeast pitched by home brewers is much less than that pitched in the professional setting, and this will help to ensure a quick start to your fermentation. The amount of fruity flavors developed will be minimal in our opinion, but try starting off at both higher and lower temperatures and see what works best for you. If you do start your lager fermenting at cooler temperatures, start at least 4-6 degrees warmer and then cool the fermenting beer down to your fermentation temperature.

Ales should develop a kraeusen within 24 hours and lagers another 8 hours or so. If you are using a liquid yeast that is not from a pitchable quantity package and you have not made a starter, you may not see the kraeusen develop for up to 48 hours. This is because you have vastly under pitched and there is not enough yeast to start a strong fermentation. Don’t worry! We have experienced some pitchable yeasts that will take up to 36 hours to show signs of active fermentation. If you get too worried that your brew will be lost then add some fresh yeast and everything will be fine as long as you have been practicing sound cleaning and sanitation procedures.
It is important to add oxygen to the cooled wort in the fermenter when you pitch your yeast. The yeast needs oxygen to respire and grow. If you do not have an oxygen tank and air stone around the house, as most home brewers don’t, gently rock your bucket or carboy in order to splash the wort around the sides and introduce oxygen into the wort. Do not spill your wort while doing this, but try top develop a large foam on top of the wort. You can purchase small devices that attach to the end of a siphon tube that will splash your wort if you are using a siphon. If you are using a funnel to pour wort into a carboy you generally get a good amount of splashing and oxygen pickup as the wort hits the bottom of the carboy. Again, your beer will turn out just fine no matter how you choose to add oxygen to the cool wort, but do it!

The ales will take some 4 to 7 days to complete primary fermentation and should be transferred to a secondary glass carboy for additional aging of one to three weeks depending on the type of beer you made. Stronger ales require longer aging time in order to reduce esters, strong alcohol and other flavors. Lagers will complete primary fermentation in seven to 12 days, and will benefit from a warming up in temperature to 65 degrees for two to 3 days at the end of fermentation. This will help the yeast to reabsorb some of the flavors produced during the initial phases of fermentation that you do not want to carry over into the final product. Then slowly cool the lager to 33 degrees by 3 to 5 degrees per day until you reach 33 to 35 degrees. Lagers should be racked after about a month to a secondary carboy for one additional month of aging.

Serving

Fully fermented and aged beer is ready for consumption. There are many ways to package your beer and each way has positive and negative things attributed to it. Most home brewers prime their beer in bottles with corn sugar or dried malt extract. If you are using corn sugar you need 3/4 cup corn sugar to 5 gallons of beer. Dried malt extract requires 1 1/4 cups to 5 gallons of beer. Both work just fine, but malt extract will give you a bit more body and an all-malt flavor. Corn sugar will make a drier tasting beverage as it will ferment completely and not leave behind residual sugar for your tongue to pick up on. What to use depends on the style you have made.

Add the primer to 1 pint of boiling water in a sauce pan and stir the mixture. Then add to the bottom of a bottling bucket and siphon your beer on top of the primer mixture to ensure a good mix. After all of the beer has been mixed into the bucket use your preferred method to fill your bottles. Make sure your bottles have been cleaned, rinsed of cleanser, and sanitized prior to filling. Cap your bottles with appropriately.
Kegs make a great way to package homebrew if you have the space for an extra refrigerator. See Zymurgy Special issue Vol 22. no 1 1999 or issue Vol 18 no. 2 for great information on all of the equipment you will need and how to’s. Once you begin kegging beer you will rarely go back to the bottles!

After you have primed and packaged your beer store it at room temperature for 2 weeks to allow the beer to carbonate. After the 2 weeks have expired chill a bottle and enjoy a glass of your new creation. If the carbonation level is suspected to be low, allow an addition week of aging. Do not chill your beer until you have the carbonation developed in the bottles that you desire. If you prematurely chill the beer before it is carbonated you will force the yeast dormant in the bottle and no further carbonation will occur.

 

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