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Brew-it-Yourself, an Introduction
I came to beer somewhat later than most of my peers, but moving to Munich in the mid-90’s provided me a crash course in beer appreciation like no other—beer is literally cheaper than water, and served (in Bavaria) by the liter. But as with so many of my favorite things—I feel compelled to learn the “how to” in addition to the “why.” Fortunately, my craft beer homebrewing buddies at Balboa Street Brewing agreed to walk me through their process.
1) Sterilize EVERYTHING.
2) Heat up 6 qts of water to just before boiling point then add in approximately four pounds of grain: the “malt bill.” In this case, trialing a rye beer, BSB used a couple of pounds of English 2-row barley malt, and a blend of crystal malt, aromatic malt, carapils, and rye. Let the wort “steep” for about forty-five minutes, then strain out the grain.
3) Heat another 6 qts of water to 170-180 degrees. Pour the hot water slowly through the grain in the strainer, stirring it through gently so as not to break the grain husks, and add it to the previously strained liquid. This is called sparging, my new favorite word.
4) Bring all the liquid to a rolling boil, at this point BSB added in 6 lbs of liquid malt extract, stirring carefully to dissolve thoroughly and prevent frothing.
5) Add 1 oz of cluster hops. These come in tiny little pellets, but they pack a big aroma. Stir as above.
6) After another 30 minutes, add in ½ oz of floral hops and also a “clearing agent” or Whirlfloc—a dissolvable tablet containing Irish moss which helps filter out the proteins by bonding to them and sinking them to the bottom of the brew. Stir as above.
7) After 45 minutes, add the final ½ oz of floral hops. Stir, etc.
8) To cool the wort you can use a copper wort chiller, or stick the hot pot in a bath of ice and stir it until it reaches approximately 70 degrees. Funnel 2 gallons of water into a 6.5 gallon glass carboy, add about half the wort and the brewing yeast, then add the remaining wort.
9) Shake it up and seal with an airlock.
Look for further instructions for conditioning and bottling!