My First Homebrew

The title is kind of a lie. I’ve brewed before, but I’ve never created my own recipe or used my own equipment, so this was a first…of sorts.  Whatever experience I had, it didn’t feel like this was going to be easy.  I kept telling myself it would be ok.  My friend, Hunter, came over to help me brew.  He had done a few Homebrews himself and I thought having him there would help me stay calm.  Plus, I had Charlie Papazian in the back of my head whispering , “Relax, have a Homebrew”.  As it turns out, despite my apprehensions, the whole process was pretty painless.  Instead of homebrew (because I didn’t have any), we bought a six pack of Sam Adams Latitude 48.  I wanted to make a strong pale wheat ale.   I’ll tell you from the beginning, I ended up with a pale  ale, but it wasn’t strong or carbonated enough.  I think we put too much water into the batch. At the end of this article, maybe you can tell me what what you think….

Around 3pm, we started brewing.  First we sanitized everything using Star Sans.

Sanitizing Things

Then we began by steeping a 1/3 lb of Victory grains for 30 minutes in 1 ½ gallons of water.  This gave us the doughy base I wanted.

Victory Malt SteepsSMells like Warm Bread

We let that cool, filtered out the grains, and put it back in the pot. Then we added our malts, 5 lbs of Briess Bavarian Wheat and brought to a boil for 75 minutes.

Filtered Victory MaltPouring Beer Back in

We tried a method of continuous hopping (check previous article) with pellets.  We added an ounce of warrior hops right off the bat, for the bitter (Warrior’s high in alpha resins).

Stirring in Hops

We waited about twenty minutes, and then continuously added another ounce of Warrior over the next 20 minutes in increments of an eighth an ounce every 2 ½ min.  We continued the flavoring with an ounce of New Zealand Motueka and an ounce of Mt. Hood from 40-60 minutes in ¼ ounce increments (on the same schedule).  These hops have relatively low alpha but high beta resins, and they smell and taste wonderful.

Beer:Hop Wonderful

We added the same hops for aroma.  Specifically, we added an ounce of New Zealand from 60-68, and an ounce of Mt. Hood from 68-75.  To be honest, at this point, we got a little lazy and just started dumping hops.  At 75 minutes we took our brew off.  We added 3 gallons (I think?) of clean cold water to a carboy and then poured our mixture in via a funnel, and filtered out the hop pellets (for no reason).

Straing the Hops for No reason

We waited till it cooled down, then I took a measurement.  The specific gravity was 1.027 at 80 degrees F, so the real specific gravity was about 1.0032 (way lower than I wanted).  I waited till the temp got down to about 76, then added a tube of California Ale yeast (which was warmed up and shaken).

The Yeast

I should mention here that all of our ingredients came from the Whole Foods Beer Store on 2nd ave, the F, M stop in NYC.  After brewing, I let my wort age in a dark corner of the room.

The Wort

After a few days, I had to add a tube to catch the run off because it ended up being much more than I expected (I think I may have loss some carbonation here).

Run off 2Run offSediment at the Bottom of Wort

After 2 ½ weeks, I decided to bottle.  I tasted at this point, and while it was very good, there wasn’t much carbonation.  I added priming sugar, and then bottled the beer.

Clean BottlesBottling 1Capping 2

CappingMy Girlfriend, Jade, Labels BottlesBottles Galore

The specific gravity at the end was 1.004 spg at 75 degrees F.  So the beer was very weak at about 2.8 or 3 percent.  That being said, it tastes better than most beers that I buy, and it was a lot cheaper.  I spent about 25-30 dollars on ingredients, and I was able to brew 3 cases of good beer.   I’m going to brew a strong English ale next, and use more malt and two yeasts.  If you have any other ideas about how to brew a better beer, let me know. It was exciting to see something I made grow and change over the weeks, and to be able to savor my creation. I hope that some of you who read this will consider doing the same.  Oh, and get a bottle dryer.  Get a bottle dryer.

Beer, the cause of, and solution to all of life’s problems.”
– Homer Simpson

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One response to “My First Homebrew”

  1. Chris - Find a Brewery says :

    Great action pics through your article! To save writing on each cap I use a different color cap for each batch – ie Green = IPA, Black = Stout,

    Happy brewing!

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