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Home brewing Part 6 – All grain brewing

Beer_Dec16_AThroughout the past weeks we have been taking a look at home brewing in Thailand. As we noted before, brewing isn’t the most popular of activities here, largely because it’s illegal. There is also the fact that the ingredients and materials needed are on the hard side to find. That being said, there are still people that do it and interest has never been higher.

The last few articles in our series have looked at brewing using both a malt extract kit and a partial mash kit. The third main way to brew at home is by using your own ingredients namely malted barley, hops, water and yeast.

So, let’s get into this week’s article on brewing using your own ingredients.

Before you start, or even purchase the ingredients, you should first pick what you want to brew. Sites like beerrecipes.org/ have a huge number of recipes you can try. Just be sure to look at the all grain ones. Another option, if you can find them, is going with a kit that provides the grains for you. These kits come with the grain, no extract, which is already milled and ready for mashing. Once you have the recipe and ingredients, you are ready to move onto brewing.

Prior to brewing

As with all the other steps in the other forms of home brewing, on brew day the first thing you should do is clean and sanitize everything that will come into contact with the brew and ingredients. This means washing with water and a mild, scent free detergent and then sanitizing with either a solution that you buy at brewing stores or filling your fermentation bucket with water and putting 5 teaspoons of food-safe bleach into it. You can then place the materials into the bucket and let them rest for around 20 minutes.

Once the sanitization has finished wash out the materials ensuring that you get the bleach out. After sanitization has finished, you can start to brew.

First step – Mashing

The first step of brewing with grain is to mash. This means taking milled and malted grain and essentially steeping it in near boiling water for a set amount of time. For a 29 Liter brew – the standard amount for most home brewing – you will need around 4-7 Kilograms of grain.

For the mash, you will need around 2.6 Liters of beer per Kilogram of grain used. In your mash pot, or whatever pot you are using, heat the water to 76 C and add the grains. Stir to make sure the grain is evenly mixed with the water. You will likely need to heat the water back up as it will cool when you add the grain. You are aiming for a temperature of around 64-70 degrees, being sure to stir as you add the grain and heat to ensure that it doesn’t clump or get too hot.

Depending on the type of beer you are brewing, you will either need to keep the temperature of the mash at this level for set time, then warm it back up and let it sit again. The recipe you are using should tell you the temperature and time you need to keep the mash at.

While you are letting the mash rest, heat up the same amount of water in another pot and keep it at around 78 C. When the mash has rested and the extra water has reached the desired temperature, it is time to

Second step – Sparging

Once the mash has finished, take the grain out, usually by filtering it out, and pouring the mash liquid through the grain and putting the grain into a filter or nylon bag. Take the mash liquid and pour it through the grain back into your pot. After this is done put the water you heated up previously through to rinse the grain.

You may need to add a little more water to bring it up to the volume needed. You can pour this through the grain or just add it to the water. Once the sparging is finished, you should have liquid with no grain, which is called the wort.

Third step – Boiling and hopping the wort

Put the wort into your pot and bring it to a boil, for optimal results you are looking for a rolling and vigorous boil. You will need to boil the wort for at least an hour, but it will depend on the type of beer you are making.

While you are waiting for the wort to reach a boil, take the hops and wrap them in cheesecloth. You will need to add them at a set time, usually one batch at the beginning of the boil for bitterness and one at 10-15 minutes before the end for flavor. Some recipes even call for hops in the last few minutes for aroma.

Fourth step – Chilling the wort

Once the boil is over, you are going to need to chill it as fast as possible. Many home brewers will use an ice bath, filling a sink or container that will hold the pot with water and ice should be ok. You are looking to chill the beer to around 24 C in order to start the fermentation. Stirring while cooling is good, just be sure to stir it gently.

Fifth step – Fermentation

Once the boil is finished and the wort chilled it’s time to ferment the beer. You will first need to pitch the yeast. Some brewing yeast will need to be activated, which can be usually done with sugar and a bit of water.

Get your fermenter and a filter and gently pour the wort into the fermenter. The filter will remove the hops and gently introduce oxygen which is what is needed in order to ferment the beer. Once the wort is in the fermenter, add the yeast and cover the bucket. Let the fermenter sit for at least three weeks, but pay attention to the recipe as there may be instructions as to how long you should be fermenting for. For ideal fermentation, try to keep the beer in a dark area that is around 20 C. Try not to let it get above 24 C.

Sixth step – Bottling and conditioning

After the fermentation has completed it’s time to bottle the beer. Ensure that your bottles, syphon and materials are cleaned and sanitized. Follow the instructions in the kit and material you are using to fill the bottles and prime the beers. Priming is usually done with a tiny bit of sugar and water put into either the fermentation bucket or each bottle.

Following bottling and priming, cap the beers and let them sit for at least three weeks before trying the beer. Some beers may need to ferment longer, so don’t be worried if it’s not quite right after a few weeks.

These instructions are simple, and if you are looking to brew at home you should invest in some resources and browser brewing forums for knowledge and help with your brewing. Best of luck to all you brewers out there!

Wish of the week

Rodenbach
If you are looking to try something a little bit different yet refreshing, look no further than this excellent Flanders Red Ale. This is really a blended beer, with 75% matured in steel casks and 25% matured in oak casks for two years. What this blending does is create a balanced ale that is sure to please. Give it a try today.

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