The Art of Brewing

Used Hops Cooking WortCaping a BottleBrewing really is art, mixed with cooking, and baking. But I would not call myself an artist, or a chef for that matter. I probably just call my self a brew enthusiastic. My first batch was started a month ago using a Canadian Blonde kit from Cooper’s. That was quite easy, but ended being 40 pints of a quite light 4.2% beer with a nice taste. So I had to try again. But I wanted to go one step further and increase the difficulty since the kit was rather easy to do.

This time I decided to try to brew from extract, that means the wheat and malts are already but various hops for the taste and other grains for the color is added manually in a process called steeping. Same goes for the yeast to kick off fermentation. Good thing is, the extract brewing doesn’t require additional sugar because that is already (and by nature, I believe) in the malt extract. After cooking the wort for about one hour, I put it in a plastic bin, add cold water to cool it down and then pitch the yeast.

The only thing you need or can do after pitching the yeast is waiting for it to do its job by transforming sugar into alcohol. This should be finished after one to two weeks and the best way to find out if it is done is to measure the beer’s gravity. The first measurement today showed a promising result so I think I will be able to put in bottles tomorrow evening. Then it needs another few days for the second fermentation to go through and for the yeast to settle, and should be ready to be enjoyed in about two weeks. I am looking forward to see how my first real beer is going to taste – and how I can adapt it even more to my taste.

First Batch looks goodSince brewing is a process one wants to monitor closely for several reasons like knowing when it’s time for the second fermentation or bottling, knowing whether the yeast has the right temperature, …, I bought myself a USB thermometer sensor on a one meter long cable. I will put this sensor (once it’s insulated, but that’s another story) into the fermenting wort to constantly measure temperature. And since I might have some computing skills, I write myself a brewing program that helps me organise my beer recipes, the production batches, and help supervising this sensor as well as potential others. Obviously, there is way more potential in this program which I started to write two weeks ago. I hope to be able to post some screenshots soon. It is actually planned to run on a Raspberry Pi for several reasons. If you would like to have a go with the program yourself once it is actually in some alpha or beta stage, let me know.

So, what features would you like for your brew tool?

For people as new to home brewing as me, I recommend the books Homebrewing for Dummies which explains everything very nicely, and the classic The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World which tells you everything about fermenting whatever it is you want to ferment.

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