Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to Brewing!

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!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. However, you popped in terms with no introduction for in instance: all of the ingredients were added to the WORT... What be a wort?

    I guess the wort is what has been added to the pot and is just boiling away. Next how much cold water is in the keg when you added the Wort.

    What is ABV and why would you want to calculate it? I added these comments because I am not experienced at making beer. There are a lot of fold like me out here and you might keep that in mind when describing your projects.