Here we are. Back again for another instalment of brewing your own delicious beer from the comforts of your own abode. Relax. You can exhale now; we’re are going to finish what we started. When we left off, you were staring at your wort thinking, “There’s no booze in here. I can’t party with this”. Today we change all that. Let’s dive in shall we?
Boiling: Hopefully the simplest step in the process. Put your wort in a giant pot and boil it for 60 min. The time will begin once it has reached a full rolling boil. Be very careful of a boil-over. You don’t want to risk losing any of the valuable pre-beer. Some homebrewers rely on a spray bottle, sanitized and filled with clean water, to spray the growing foam that rises during the first part of the boil. If your boiling pot is large enough this shouldn’t be a problem.
Boiling is also traditionally when the hops are added. Certain recipes can call for anywhere from one to four hop additions, although some hoppy India Pale Ales can hover around six additions to get that signature bitterness and piney, citrus aroma. Additions are usually around 1-2 oz each and contribute different flavors and aromas depending on the variety of hops. Bittering hops varieties are added early in the boil (60 minutes left) while flavoring and aromatic hops varieties are added closer to the end of the boil (5-15 minutes left).
Sometimes in different recipes there will be other adjuncts that need to be added during the boil. In this batch of Belgian Witbier I added 1 oz of Goldings hops at 60 min and 1 oz of Amarillo (I’m a sucker for the awesome tropical aroma provided by this variety) at 15 min. There was then an addition of freshly crushed coriander (0.75 oz) and organic bitter curacao orange peel (0.75 oz) tossed in with 5 minutes left in the boil.
Cooling: Now its time to make the wort a little more comfortable for your fermenting friends. The whole pot needs to be cooled to around 22°C. This takes a painful amount of time, however there are ways to speed up the process. One of the most common ways to cool your wort is to submerge a coiled copper immersion chiller in the pot. When attached to a hose or tap, cold water flows through the coils and chills the liquid, the water then passes out the other side of the chiller and is discarded. This process drastically reduces the time spent cooling the wort, but you need to be careful of leaks in the equipment. Hose water getting in your beer is not going to make it taste very good.
Once this liquid is room temperature, it’s the perfect time to measure the specific gravity of the wort. This will basically tell us how much sugar is in your beer at the time. This initial reading, called the original gravity, should be compared to the recipe’s theoretical gravity reading; you’ll be able to tell if you are on track with the recipe. To do this you’ll need a hydrometer. More equipment, I apologize, though I think you knew what you were getting yourself into when we started this.
Pitching: The only time the wort should be thoroughly aerated is right before the yeast is added. Allow some oxygen to mix with the liquid as it is poured into its primary fermentation vessel, usually a glass carboy with a one-way valve to allow for CO2 release. Combine the aerated wort and a package of activated liquid yeast. Throw the valve on it, and voila! There you have it. Your first day of brewing is complete.
In 2 weeks your beer will be finished primary fermentation and ready for secondary. All that’s left now is to sit back and play the waiting game. “The waiting game sucks, let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!”
We’re in for a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, but only if we get to try some of your brew! What variety of hops did you use? Let us know in the comments below.