Home Beer Brewing Basics I: Procedure

On the brew: Indian Chaye Chocolate Cinnamon Stout  
After my first brew came out to be quite explosive, both in literal and figurative sense, I shifted the gear and decided to brew another september batch that should be bottle conditioned and ready to be consumed in the beginning of next month. While I did have my reservations on brewing a stout, a style I usually don't prefer over the hoppier, paler versions of ale, I decided to go forward with it anyways. To be honest, I have had always wanted to see how tea leaves would bring a measure of complexity and flavor to chocolate malt based stouts. The crisp coffee bitterness with a touch of roasted tea aroma should be a brew that's very different to the ones that have already proliferated the craft beer scene in Seoul.

So let's start brewing shall we?

1. Getting the temp of the water right:

Water temperature raised up to 63C in the mash pot
I had been taking an online course on beer where, if I vaguely remember, the professor was talking about how enzymes in malted grains are activated at a temperature range from anywhere between 63C-69C. These enzymes are essential for helping the sugars in the malt break down into smaller compounds which the yeasts are happy to feed on. The smaller the sugars are broken down, the higher the difference in original and final gravity and the lighter bodied the beer becomes. That means the higher the temperature you have the water to be for mashing, given that it's within the enzyme activation range, the lighter bodied beer you expect. I want my stouts to be a sipper, not a adjunct shitty Guinness and so, decided on the 63C temperature. Jason from Magpie Brewing Company, who I took beer brewing class with, had agreed on that temperature as well.

2. Getting the malted grains ready

I do need a better camera
Making a stout means that getting the color just about as dark as you would like to. That means adding grains with dark colors and flavors. I am not going delve on the ingredients and recipe for this post as I want this to be a general outlook on the procedure and not a rigorous "let's brew a beer" post. On top of that, I am not sure how the beer is going the taste anyhow. 

3. Mashing
The grains are placed on a nylon bag and dipped on the mash pot
The next step is the mash where things which I discussed regarding enzymes breaking down malt sugars actually takes place. I simply placed all the malt grains on to the bag and dipped them allowing the heat of the water to soak onto the grains. Using a wooden spoon, I simply stirred it carefully without splashing. Aeration at this point is not desired. 

4. Maintaining Constant Mashing Temperature

60C-65C is acceptable range. But maintaining at 63C is the tricky part
Once the stirring is complete, the temperature has to be measured and checked if it's maintained at 63C. The mash tun has to be then closed. This is where I want an arduino to come in and do the temperature monitoring for me. Having to stand up and check the temperature time and again is annoying. The total mash time, which starts right after I place the cover on, is 60 minutes.

5. Boiling the Wort

The sweet horlicks like smelling wort. A feast for the yeast.
Wort is the portion of the liquid what remains after the mashing process. This is needs to put in full 100C boil before the bitter flavorful hops go in. 

6. Hop Measurement

Pallet Hops
I am using pallet Chinook Hops (~11% AA) for my stout as it seems to be a popular choice for an american stout among home brewers. The hops will be added twice; at 30min boil and at 10min remaining to complete the boil. The first is placed for bitterness and the later one is for flavor and aroma. The simple idea is that the more you boil the hops, the more it aligns to alpha acids being released making the beer bitter. 

7. 30 min wort boil


This is the point where we start adding bitterness and flavor and all the delightful aroma to the beer. When the wort comes to a full boil, a 30 minute count down clock is set right after adding the hops for the bitterness profile. Its called the 30 min hop addition. The next set of hops are then added when 10 min remains on the clock. 

The idea behind doing a 30 min and not a 60 min boil was given to me by Jason as I was doing a smaller 1 gallon batch. Works well if you have the hop Alpha Acids (AA) calculated right. Since the relationship between the amount of hops you use and the amount of AA is linear, it's easier to calculate. For instance, if the usual 60 min wort boil requires 4 g of Chinook hops, you double the amount for a 30 min boil to get the same amount of bitterness in your beer. 

8. The Tea 


Since I wanted to add dried roasted tea leaves on the wort boil, I needed to check first how the flavor, aroma and color of the beer would change. The tea I purchased, a generic Indian Tazaa (?) tea, didn't have much to offer on the flavor side but had a thick nice aroma and dark color that would fit what I would be looking in the stout. The tea, after being dry heated on a pan goes into the boil with 5 min remaining on the clock along with the water purifying tablet and the irish moss (sanitized).

9. Preparing the ice bath


The ice bath needs to be prepared to cool the wort down

10. Reducing the temperature to 18-24C

blurred beer
I am using dry ale yeast which require no activation and can be placed directly on top of the beer in the fermenter. However, the temperature has to be between 18-24C for the yeasts to be active and start doing their magic.

At this point, anything that touches the beer HAS to be sanitized.

11. Cinnamon dry spicing 

2 g of cinnamon to top it off

Not sure how this one will turn out but I like the cinnamon aroma on my stouts. Had to sanitize it with soju first before putting it on the primary fermenter. 

12. Placing them on the primary fermenter

double brew day: Stout Vs Pale Ale
Since I was doing a small batch brewing, I had to build my own 1 gallon fermenter. Just need to make sure that when I poured the beer, it splashed on for proper aeration. The yeast were then placed on the top and the lid tightened. 

Just do make sure to have the 3 piece airlock properly placed. Trust me, you don't want this one to explode. 

13. Wait

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