Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brewing in a Bag

 Jason and I seem to collect hobbies.  After the success of our cider at our wedding, we have decided to learn how to brew beer.  In a previous post I talked about making an American Amber Ale with help from the nice people at Ballast Point Brewery.  This time we went closer to home to the Mother Earth Brewery in Vista where they convinced us to take it up a notch and brew an all grain beer using a technique called brewing in a bag.  The people at Mother Earth helped us get the grains and hops necessary to make a cross between a Hefeweizen and a Pilsener.  Instead of using a malt, we kind of made our own malt using the grain.  I don't know all of the beer terms, so please bear with me if you are more of a beer expert.

Brewing in a bag!

We got about 15 pounds of grain from the brewery and first we had to let it steep in hot water for about an hour to get all of the sugars out.  The brewery recommended using a measuring cup to pour water over the grains for the last 15 minutes so that the interior grains could get purged.  We knew that it would be super heavy to hold for 15 minutes, so Jason in his ingenuity strung up a pulley to hold the grains above the pot.  It was crazy how sticky that grain tea was!!

Pouring hot water on the grains

 Pouring water on beer is tough work, so I had to quench my thirst with some of the American Amber ale from a month ago.  It turned out nice.  Jason thinks it will be even better after a few weeks in the bottle.

The next step was adding some hops and then boiling the beer tea for an hour.  We were making a concentrated batch so that we could use cold water to help chill it more quickly so that we could get it into the carboy.   We had a couple of issues with the beer.  First of all the sugar reading of the beer wasn't as high as we had wanted (probably because we didn't get all of the sugar out the grains while we were steeping it) so we didn't add as much water when it was done boiling.  So instead of 6 gallons, we got a little less than 5 gallons.

Jason is good at taking notes to remember all of the details of the process

 After a week percolating in the carboy, we transferred the beer to a new carboy and added more hops.  It has about another week to go before we can bottle it.  It's fun to learn new hobbies and the beer has certainly come in handy when I have needed bribes for other teachers to cover my classes or after school duties. 
The beer patiently waiting to be bottled and consumed

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