Brewing! David’s Debut IPA – Part 1

by Kelli H. on June 6, 2011

I finally had the opportunity to brew my first beer!  My friend and I spent a few solid hours on Sunday pioneering our first IPA in my backyard.  We purchased a brew kit from a brew supply store online that included pretty much everything we needed besides the actual IPA ingredients.  There are seemingly a lot of parts that go into brewing beer, but it’s really not so bad.  We started by laying out all of the ingredients and going through the recipe/ instructions to get a solid grasp of what needed to happen and the correct order they needed to take place.  I had purchased 5 gallons of quality Spring Water earlier that day to make sure my first beer was off to the best possible start.  They say that beer is at least 90% water, so your beer can only be as good as the water you start with!
The first picture you see is a picture of several of the ingredients including the Gold and Amber Malt Extracts, the Grain, and the Hops.  Beer is composed of 4 main ingredients:  Water, Malt, Hops, and Yeast.  The hops used in this recipe are Cascade (2 oz), Willamette (1 oz), and Goldings (1oz), and will help provide bitterness, flavor, and floral aroma.  You’ll also see in the picture several tools including siphons, hoses, a cleaning brush, a thermometer, a hydrometer, and the beer chiller.  The hydrometer is used to determine the fermentation activity as well as the alcohol content of the beer, and the beer chiller is used to get the beer down to a cool temperature from boiling as quickly as possible so as to avoid oxidation and contamination.

The first step in this entire process is to get our water in the brew kettle up to 155 degrees.  Then we steep our grains in the water for 15-30 minutes much like you would steep tea.  This is one of the ways the beer gets its color.  You can see in the second picture the grain steeping much like tea!
In our case we steeped the grain at 155-160 degrees for about 25 minutes and then brought the kettle up to a boil and added our two Liquid Malt Extracts (Amber and Gold) making sure to stir it in slowly and not scorch it on the bottom of the kettle.  Once we got all that malt in the kettle (9.3 lbs of Liquid Malt to be exact!) we added out first batch of hops, the Cascade Hops. These are the ones you see me holding out in the picture.  They are my favorite of the three.  The aroma of the hops just dry was even amazing!

We added the Cascade hops right after the boil, and set the timer for 30 minutes and let it brew.  Once the timer went off it was time to add the Willamette hops to the brew and let those boil with everything else for another 30 minutes.  The final batch of hops (the Goldings hops) went in for the final 2-5 minutes and then we turned the heat off and began setting up the immersion chiller.  You can see it sitting in the kettle with hoses going in and out of it.  The way this works is one hose is hooked up to the input and feeds cold water through 25 feet of copper pipe that is submersed in the boiling hot beer.  Since copper is an excellent conductor the heat is transferred and carried out through the other hose and down the drain.  We were both amazed at how well this thing worked!  The water going in was ice cold, and the water coming out was steaming as it hit the drain!  Very cool to see how efficient this thing actually was.  It only took about 10 minutes to bring the boiling beer (called “wort” at this stage) down from over 220 degrees to about 80 degrees.  Pretty amazing stuff considering it was about 5 gallons of wort.

Once chilled we were able to transfer the wort in to our Primary Fermentation Vessle, which is essentially a 6.5 gallon bucket with an air-tight lid an gas release valve.  We took our gravity readings with the hydrometer which will help us determine the alcohol content later.  And then we added the yeast.  By the next day the yeast was already very active and was releasing lots of gasses, which is a very good thing.  You can tell because the airlock will release little bubbles of gas periodically.  It is based on the timing of the gas bubbles, as well as the specific gravity readings that will tell us when fermentation is complete.  This recipe calls for 1 week in the primary fermenter, and then to transfer to a glass 5-gallon secondary fermenter for another 2-3 weeks.  Once that process is complete we will be all clear to bottle the beer.  Once bottled, the beer will be ready to consume anywhere from 1-3 weeks later.
So yeah, it’s definitely a long process and I’m dying to finally be able to try my first brew!  Second to that I’m dying to share my first brew with all of my friends and family and fellow beer lovers!  (Providing it is worth sharing! Haha.)  I hope this post was interesting and informative, and I’ll be posting a “Part 2” on the bottling process once we get there, and then finally a “Part 3” on the finished product/ tasting of the beer.  Check back soon for more updates on my inauguration IPA!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet June 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Looking good so far, hope you have success for I would like to try some.

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Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) June 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Brewing! I’ll have to forward this to Hubbs. he loves brewing. In fact, he is actually building a brewery under our house. True story- haha 🙂

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Made in Sonoma June 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

@Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)
Wow! That is awesome.

It’s funny how many people are actually into home brewing these days.

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David June 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

@Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)

Very cool! Home brewing is a great hobby that friends and family can all benefit from, which is probably why they are all so supportive of it. lol.
This was my first ever brew, but I have a good feeling about how it’s going to turn out. 🙂

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Shellie June 10, 2011 at 12:13 am

i forgot how fun it was until i saw your pics…i guess i should push uncle Steve to make that Amber one with me. 🙂 then we can all sit back and share our ice cold home brews…on a hot day. Well have your mom and dad make the brick pizza!!! my mouth is watering now…mmmm

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Janelle June 11, 2011 at 1:40 am

Still sounds like a lot of work and precision. I’m glad you enjoy it. Can’t wait to sample the final product…

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Michelle July 5, 2011 at 4:46 am

I’ve been hearing a lot about this project.

One of David’s aunts and one of his uncles have a lot of experience with home brewing!

Definitely a great hobby for family and friends!

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