Last year I purchased a beer brewing kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop. I put up a quick post on the kit and then months passed without it ever being mentioned again. Well, the fact that I had grains, hops, and a brew kit sitting around the kitchen for nearly three months bothered me too; so, over last weekend, on Martin Luther King Day to be exact, I decided to do something about it. I brewed an apple ale.
The first and most important step in beer brewing is to clean and sterilize everything you plan on using first. If I ruined my beer this is where it happened. I diligently cleaned everything with sanitizer but it only takes a few stray microbes to kill of yeast. I was careful but I’ve never brewed beer before and so I don’t know if I was diligent and paranoid enough about cleanliness.
Once you’ve cleaned all the tools you get a pot full of water, get it boiling and then dump in your grain and let it cook for an hour. It’s a lot like making a giant pot of oatmeal. Regulating the temperature of the cooking grain is important because it determines what type of beer you will make. I had trouble keeping the beer in the correct range for an ale. I don’t know how big of an issue this is; friends say it shouldn’t be too much of one. Once the grain is cooked you run it through a strainer, capturing all the water it was cooked in (wort), add some more water, and then run the wort through the grain a couple more times. Then you boil the wort for an hour adding hops, and other things for flavor; this recipe called for apples and a cinnamon stick.
After the wort was boiled I strained it again then put it into my carboy, added the yeast, shook it up, and capped it. It sat venting for three days (you don’t want it to explode) and now will sit for an additional two weeks (in the dark) before I move it to bottles. The fact that I won’t know if the beer is a success or not until near the end of February has been the most difficult part to deal with. My fingers are crossed, and I’ll certainly mention the end results here!