The following is a thread to capture the adventures of my first batch of beer homebrewing. This is an attempt to make a successful batch of a “Dead Ringer IPA” 5 gallon BIAB (beer in a bag) batch, a recipe found from NorthernBrewer.com, in our 1 bedroom NYC apartment kitchen. I got all nuts and purchased all this awesome gear and it just fits. I’m using a new 15 gallon stainless steel boiling kettle from Spike Brewing and heating it up using two left burners on our stove. Let’s see how it goes…
The first step on “brew day” was to heat the strike water up to 170 F. The recipe was for 5 gallons of beer, so the strike water volume i had was 8 gallons. A bit too much for the two stove burners, so split it out into other pots and then put it all back once it was hot enough. Worked pretty well for a NYC apartment stove top
While strike water heats up, the grain bill is prepared. Day before, had 11lbs of 2-row malt (malted barley) and 1lb of caramel 40 malt. I put like 12.2lbs overall, had it double milled to ensure as much sugar could be extracted as possible by the BIAB method.
The strike water is hot enough, and next is gradually pouring in the milled grains into the water (well, into a food-grade mesh bag that is in the water).
avoiding clumps 😛
While pouring the grains, you have to stop here and there to stir them in the bag (carefully) to gently break up any clumping. Clumping would mean some grains never really touch the water, and their sugars aren’t extracted. That would be lower efficiency, which would kind of suck
Once the grains steep in the strike water for an hour (the mashing period), the bag is pulled out, gently pressed to get some of the absorbed water (now called wort) back out of it, and then it is brought to a boil. Once again, the handy ball valve spigot made it easy to split up the wort to other pots to help get to boil faster.
This beer recipe calls for centennial hops to be used. I chose to use the whole-leaf version instead of pellets because less processed ingredients to me are just better. Plus they look kind of cool. Oh and they tend to clog less and are easier to strain out, etc.
The 1 oz bags that they come in pack quite a lot of hops actually. This is one bag out of 5 that the recipe uses. They are added gradually, and some are used in two weeks during the secondary fermentation or “dry hopping” step. But this first bowl of hops will be the “60 minute hop addition” which goes in right when the wort reaches a boil.
For the hop additions, this recipe had them at 60 minutes (boiling just started, so it’s a countdown), 20 minutes and 5 minutes. Each 1oz bag fit nicely into these smaller food-grade mesh bags. Plop them in, gently drown them with your stainless steel spoon every few minutes, and let your apartment start smelling really good.
At about 15 minutes remaining, the immersion chiller is placed into the boiling wort. It was cleaned the night before but it’s necessary that everything that comes in contact with the wort once it is going to start cooling down is fully sanitized. This gets it easiest. All the other parts (spoons, hoses, buckets, measuring cups, hands, etc all get thorough Star-San foam baths).
Earlier on i let the packet of dry yeast reach room temperature on the counter. Boil about 1/2 a cup of water, then let it chill to room temperature (at least below 80 degrees, but not really below 70). Dip yeast bag in Star-San bath, then the scissors, then cut it open, then pour it gradually into the water. Then cover it up nicely and let it rehydrate on the side.
Fast-forward a bit (didn’t get pics of the actual IM cooling process, or the transfer to fermentation bucket) but during the transfer, i captured just enough of the cooled wort (got it to 75 degrees in like 14 minutes!) to do a hydrometer test to get the “original gravity” or OG. The recipe suggested 1.064 but I got 1.052-1.054. A touch lower than I wanted but hey it’s my first batch ever! Also I had a full 6 gallons of cooled wort and I probably should have started with a gallon less strike water. But good result, i’ll take it.
Once the wort is transferred into the sanitized bucket, the hydrated yeast is poured in too. Then all the other sanitized parts are put on. The air-tight lid, then the three-piece airlock. That gets a reservoir of sanitizer and the cap is put on. It’s been one day and the thing has been bubbling like a champ all day!
Three weeks into the primary fermentation, i starsan sprayed the outer lid and airlock, removed it all carefully, and then sprinkled in the 1 oz bag contents of the centennial whole leaf hops. this pic is right before that part. wow the beer looks kind of dark for an ipa, huh?
Funny thing happened yesterday. I accidentally dry hopped the other batch of beer i had going. the porter! i figured it out after a few hours, and siphoned the beer out to another fermentation bucket before the hops settled into it. hope it isn’t a franken-porter now. but then went to the store and got another bag of hops and here is the right batch being hopped. ok lesson learned, label the buckets in the future 😛
Finally it was bottling day and got exactly two cases of beer (48 12oz bottles) out of the batch. Had bit of “learning curve” with the Super Agata bench capper, but overall it went well. I will hope that next time I’ll have better caps and also be sure to “really cap em”. Now will let these bad boys bottle condition for two weeks and then will consider popping one open and trying out the goods.
WOW finally fridge cooled and then tried the first bottle ever for my homebrewing. this is the first bottle poured, not that much carbonation and really no head on it. but was tasty! had hop aroma and also decent bitterness. i personally thought it had a very slight hint of sweet in the sip, but my wife was like “whoa its so good!”. Pretty good for less than 2 weeks into the bottle conditioning phase!
Popped a second one with dinner and it had more fizz when opening. also it had some decent head retention! OK really stoked now that the first batch is showing signs of hope. The capping issue may have affected some of the bottles, but am really looking forward to a week or more from now when they are all “ready” to be shared.