Irregular Zymurgy Liquid Breakfast Cereal‡ - batch number 03-2
This week Oakland experienced a heat wave. While I had intended to brew some evening this week, the heat kept me from firing up the stove and boiling water for hours. I have never been the sort to start a morning with a cold can of cola, but I was forced to keep a pitcher of iced coffee in the fridge. It would have to happen early Saturday morning, I reasoned.
The brewing supply store I frequent sells whole hops in four ounce bags. It's a decent amount for the price, but I enjoy brewing with a wide variety of hops, and tend to end up with several half-bags in my freezer. This batch of beer would solve that problem.
So, at 8am, I put a big pot on the stove and began to bring
- 2 gal of water to boil, with
- 2 tsp baking soda to increase the water hardness a touch.
And in a second pot, I set
- ½ gal water on the stove.
Once the smaller pot hit 180 °F, I poured 1 lb crushed crystal 40L malt into it and took it off the heat. Over the next hour, as the large pot came to a boil, I stirred this smaller pot and tried to maintain an even heat. This process is called mashing, and it allows the enzymes to break down the carbohydrates into dextrins and sugars in the malted grain.
With the large pot boiling, I sieved the mash through a mesh bag and a colander to remove the crushed grain. Then I added the liquid to the larger pot. Following that,
- 6½ lbs light malt extract were stirred in.
I've upgraded to a pot with a heavier base, but still I kept stirring until the syrupy malt extract had dissolved. The sugars boiled for about 30 minutes. A fine head was created whenever I stirred, and this presages a fine head on the finished ale.
The bittering hops,
- 3 oz Cascade hops (7.1% alpha acids), went in for 35 minutes of boiling.
After that, I took the heat off, and steeped
- 2 oz Hallertauer hops (4.6% alpha acids) for about 20 minutes with the lid on.
I then strained out the hops, pouring the wort over 6 lbs of ice to cool it more quickly. About an hour later, I decanted it into a five gallon carboy, pitched in Wyeast strain #1056 "American ale", and gave it a blessing. By early evening, it was evident that the yeast had taken and fermentation had begun. It is my intent to rack the ale into a clean carboy and add more finishing hops in a couple of days; there are 3 oz of Fuggles hops in my freezer yet.
UPDATE July 1, 2003 With misuba's assistance, I racked the ale to a bucket, leaving the settled proteins and grain dust. I then cleaned the carboy out, and put the ale back in, over 3 oz Fuggles hops (about 5% alpha acids, IIRC). Fermentation resumed within an hour. The carboy now gets a little agitation to beat the ale into the floating hops every 8 hours or so.
UPDATE July 13, 2003 The dry hops held down between one-third and one-half gallon of beer. I boiled 6 quarts of water with 2/3 cup corn sugar (priming sugar) and got 43 bottles (7oz, ne guinness) and 5 champagne bottles (750mL) out of it. Should be drinkable around the end of the month.
UPDATE July 28, 2003 I opened a bottle for a taste this evening. It is not yet fully carbonated, and rather caramelly tasting from the sugar that will (soon, I hope) create that carbonation. That said, it is fine drinking for this state.
UPDATE August 26, 2003 I've chilled a bottle and opened it this afternoon. It has fermented nicely in the bottle, creating a thin layer of dense almost eggwhite-like head when poured. It stand rather clear in the glass. The taste is almost crisp, the hops, though do not really come through strongly, I fault the extending water I added at bottling time. I think it needs (another) week.
‡ The name of this batch was suggested by ophie, in the spirit of the old adage, "Beer - it's not just for breakfast anymore".