We're really lucky to have a place like Midwest Supplies close by. The place is huge & has everything we need from equipment, books, kits, whole grains & advice. My parents gave Matt a kit with all the grains, hops, malt & yeast to make Flat Tire Ale which seemed like a good starter beer.
The grains, in the case barley, get put into a mesh bag & simmered at 155 F in 3 gallons of water for about 30 minutes. Already you can see the color of beer starting to come through.
The grain seeps for another 10 minutes off the heat & then is removed. It can be composed or left out for the birds like we did. Matt thinks it would make a great addition to bread, has anyone ever tried this?
Then the malt extract is added, it looked & tasted just like caramel. The water is then brought to a boil & the bittering hops are added. Whoa what a smell!
Brewing doesn't seem to be a lot of work but there is a lot of time spent watching a pot making sure it keeps its heat or doesn't boil over. The wort boils for an hour & aroma hops are added the last two minutes. These hops really smelled like the Fat Tire beer we were attempting to get the flavor of.
The wort then needs to be cooled as quickly as possible. We tried putting it in a snow bank but it melted the snow around it so fast (plus it was slippery out & Matt was afraid of spilling). A bathtub fill of cold water plus the addition of an addition gallon of cold water to the pot brought our wort down to 80 F in about 20 minutes. Matt then took a sample & tested its starting gravity. We'll test the gravity again before bottling to see what the alcohol level is.
Finally, the wort gets poured into the fermenting bucket. Matt whisked it briskly to add oxygen that the yeast will need. We used a dry yeast which just get sprinkled over the top of the wort. The top of the fermenter goes on & the airlock goes in place.
By the next morning our airlock was bubbling away letting us know the yeast was alive & doing it's thing. It'll work it's magic for a week & then it'll be time for the second fermentation, stay tuned...
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