Brewing Sunday

So, once every month or so, my friends and I get together to brew some beer. This is generally an excuse to eat take out, drink beer and in my case, watch the others do the brewing.

This weekend we were brewing a pale ale for the brew club competition next month. The specifications were that we needed to brew an ale no stronger than 4.5% (I think. Anyway, it was low alcohol). So, My friend got the hops, yeast, and other bits and bobs for the brew and we turned up Sunday evening to lend a hand.

The routine goes something like this:

17:30 – The OH phones up friend, ‘What do you want from [enter random takeout here]. Friend says, ‘Can I have crispy shredded [enter meat here] with fried rice [different variety]. I normally get some for of Vietnamese food. The OH normally gets some kind of Thai.

18:00 – the OH and I go and pick up the takeout, and pitch up at Friend’s house with empty bottles, stomachs and yummy food.

18:10 – 18:25 – The OH and I unpack takeout and turn on TV. Flip through channels while Friend potters about setting up the mash and the mashtun. At this point it’s all about getting the right temperature for the mash.

Getting the Mashtun ready for the grains. Photo: Canadiankate

Getting the Mashtun ready for the grains. Photo: Canadiankate

18:30 – We all sit down to eat starters. At this point Friend and OH will up and down making sure the mash stays at the right temperature for the enzymes. For this particular brew, we weren’t using that much grain so Friend was worried that the enzymes wouldn’t work so well because the grain was diluted in a larger amounts of water. Now, we wait.

This Sunday was pretty good for TV. The Tour de France was on; it was the final stage and a very tense one towards the end. I generally watched that while OH and Friend popped up and down doing the other things.

Grains ready to be mashed. Photo: Canadiankate

Grains ready to be mashed. Photo: Canadiankate

Mashing the grains. Photo: Canadiankate

Mashing the grains. Photo: Canadiankate

20:00  – It was time to sparge and boil the wort. OH and Friend lifted the sack of mash and poured hot water through it to get all of the wort out. Then, the water that the mash had been cooked in, was poured into the same pot. This was hefted onto the stove, and left to boil. At certain points, hops were added to the boil.

The Wort after the grain removed. Photo: Canadiankate

The Wort after the grain removed. Photo: Canadiankate

Sparging the mash. Photo: Canadiankate

Sparging the mash. Photo: Canadiankate

Boiling the wort. Photo: Canadiankate

Boiling the wort. Photo: Canadiankate

21:30(ish) – Right towards the end of the stage – in the final couple of laps – it was time to cool the brew.

OH was a bit miffed at this as he was well into the race. I think both of us were hoping that Cavendish would get the 5/5 but it wasn’t to be. That said, my heart was in my mouth for at least 15 minutes prior. And Kittel had an excellent leadout.

Anyway, the cooling process involves some faffing as the  This involves a fair amount of faff as we use an immersion chiller which runs cold water from a hose and faucet through a copper tube to draw away the heat. This takes about 20 minutes or so and then its time to transfer the cooled wort to the fermenter.

Coiling the boil. Photo: Canadiankate

Coiling the boil. Photo: Canadiankate

Cooling the boil using induction. Photo: Canadiankate

Cooling the boil using induction. Photo: Canadiankate

Photo: Canadiankate

Photo: Canadiankate

22:30(ish) – About time to leave. The beer is now in its bucket happily fermenting away and in a couple of weeks, we’ll be back to do the bottling stage.

The final product. Photo: Canadiankate

The final product. Photo: Canadiankate

I’ll post about that when it happens. For now, here are some pictures of our home-brew:

Maple Syrup Weizenbock

This was my birthday brew

Maple Syrup Weizenbock. Photo: Canadiankate

Maple Syrup Weizenbock. Photo: Canadiankate

Beetroot Saison:

Beetroot Saison. Photo: Canadiankate

Beetroot Saison. Photo: Canadiankate

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