I started home brewing my own beer back when I was in the Army. I got a few odd looks from my 1st Sergeant during the barracks inspections, but I wasn’t doing anything illegal so he let me continue, especially after I let him try a few during the barracks parties. I stopped brewing for a few years after I was sent to Korea and then PCS’d back to the states. I dusted off my MrBeer keg and started brewing again a few years ago but stopped again after I moved apartments a few times. Now that I have bought my house and don’t plan on moving again anytime soon I decided to start brewing again. I have made a few batches recently and been very pleased with the results.
My first batch since I started brewing again was Witty Monk Witbier. I have to say that the Witty Monk is probably my favorite normal refills (outside of the seasonal refills, all of which have been great so far). In total I have made 7 batches since I started brewing again. I am keeping a Brew-Journal with detailed write-ups on each batch so I can avoid the mistakes and re-create the greats. Maybe I’ll give you a look in it another time…
So Tuesday the 20th I got a shipment in from MrBeer. This time around I ordered a specific gravity tester and a few packets of pelletized hops so I could experiment with hopping my beers. In the past I haven’t liked hoppy beers but recently I have discovered Dog Fish Head beers, most of which have a lot of hops flavor. For my first hopping experiment I went to my old stand-by of Witty Monk.
On the MrBeer website was a recipe for “Wicked Monk” which is the standard Witty monk with Saaz Hops. I added a ½ cup of honey just because I like the flavor of honey in my wheat beers. My full recipe:
2 cans Witty monk Witbier HME
1 can Pale Export UME
2 packets dry brewing yeast
1 packet Saaz pelletized hops
½ cup honey
So the first thing you need to do is to start sanitizing the keg and all your cooking tools. I didn’t get a picture of that (do you really want to see me washing my dishes?). But after that I started soaking the cans of malt extract in warm water. Heating the extract makes it pour out easier. While those were soaking I started the water boiling.
I also prepped the rest of the rest of the ingredients by putting the hops in the cheese-cloth muslin sock and trimming it. I also measured out the honey.
All of the ingredients have been added to the wort. I have read that cooking the wort a bit longer will enhance the caramel flavors and can cause the hops to infuse more of their flavor into the beer. You lose the flowery citrus aroma but gain a nice hoppy bitter flavor. To try this I simmered the wort at a low boil for about 30 minutes.
At the start I got the burner heat a bit high and had a boil-over. It made a big mess but I don’t think it will affect the flavor to much.
After the wort had simmered for 30 minutes I added it to cold water in the keg.
I tested the Original Gravity of my brew with the new specific gravity tester. It came out to what I will assume is a nice 1.052. When I test again just before bottling I will hopefully be able to calculate my ABV.
This week I have another batch that will be ready for bottling. I am not sure how it will turn out since the tap on the keg developed a slow dripping leak sometime this week. It isn’t serious enough to lose the whole batch but I am worried that it might allow an infection in to spoil the beer. We will see in a few days!