Red Cup Cooks: Homebrew

HT: Thile. This should be an interesting read.

I am not much of a chef around the house, especially when compared to some of the things that have been included in Red Cup Cooks, but I do use my kitchen for one very important provision:  Beer!    

I am a beer geek.  I love craft beer and homebrew.  I enjoy making my own beer.  You can pare up your food with various gourmet beers just as you could with wine.  (Cheese is supposed to actually pair better with beer)  Right now, homebrewing is not legal in the state of Mississippi.  Raise Your Pints is trying to legalize homebrewing as well as increasing the ABV cap on beers available in this state.  

I have been a home brewer for just over a year now.  I just bottled up my 1st anniversary batch the day before I made this latest one, Chinook IPA.  I have made this kit before, but am making a couple adjustments to the recipe.  If you click on the link, you can see the basic ingredients and some of the process.  I'll repeat a lot of that here, but wanted to have that available too.  

For the uninitiated, an IPA is an India Pale Ale.  This particular one is a single-hopped beer that uses only chinook hops (in pellet form, but I'll be dry hopping with whole leaf hops). The base kit for this beer does not quite fit to style, but I'll make some adjustments as well.  

I am what you would call an extract brewer.  I brew partial boil batches in my kitchens.  A batch of beer is 5 gallons, so I end up boiling 3 - 4 gallons on the stove top.  I plan to upgrade to full-boil batches using the basic turkey fryer setup and a larger kettle.  I also plan on down the line converting to all-grain batches, though I may try some partial mashes and 'brew in a bag' all grain stuff when I get the full-boil apparatus.  I currently bottle all my beer right now, but plan on setting up for kegging in the near future as well.  For the most part, I use pre-designed kits from a home brew supplier such as Austin Homebrew Supply or Northern Brewer (Those are the two main ones I've used, there are others out there as well as well as local homebrew shops in other areas).  These kits will include the following:

Specialty grains:  

0.75 lbs Belgian Caramel Pils 

0.25 lbs Briess Caramel 120  

The Caramel Pils will provide a subtle caramel flavor and the Caramel 120 will provide an amber color and caramel and raisin flavors; the 120 indicates it is 120 L for Lovibond.  


6 lbs of pilsen malt syrup

1 lb of pilsen dry malt extract

14 oz Maltose/Glucose (1 % ABV boost) (ordered from AHS with a different kit)

Pilsen malt is a very light malt and provided here as both the liquid malt extract syrup and the dry malt extract.  Both of these provide the fermentable sugar that will be converted to alcohol by the yeast.  Minimal sugars will be imparted from the specialty grains as those are more for flavoring and colors.  Pilsen is described as having the lightest color of the malt extracts and providing a clear and crisp wort and a subtle malt backbone.  I think it is easy to equate it to the 'beer' flavor you get from a traditional american style pilsner.  I'll be adding a 1% dry sugar (Maltose/glucose) ABV boost as well.  I like to add some simple sugars to my extract brews to kickstart the yeast and improve my attenuation from the extract; I'll make up some of the difference in increased gravity with hops.  


3 ounces of Chinook hops (1 oz ea at 60 min, 10 min and 1 min)

2 ounces of whole leaf Chinook hops (Dry hopping)

3 ounces of Chinook hops are provided with the kit.  1 ounce for bittering, 0.5 ounce for flavour, 0.5 ounce for aroma, and 1 ounce for dry-hopping.  Since I'll be using 2 ounces of leaf hops for dry hopping, I'll adjust the flavour and aroma hops to be 1 ounce ea.  


WYeast Greenbelt

Instead of the recommended WYeast 1056 American Ale liquid yeast or Safale US-05 dry yeast,  I'm actually going to be reusing a 'washed' yeast.  WYeast Greenbelt which is designed to bring out the fruity and floral flavors in the hops which seemed to work well with the evergreen notes of the chinook hops.

Before brew day:

Verify all the ingredients and instructions (Photo:  Chinook IPA Kit and Ingredients).

Using dry yeast is the easy way to go, and it makes really good beer.  However, not all varieties of yeast are available so liquid yeast is available.  It is recommended for almost all liquid yeasts to prepare a starter in order to ensure viability of the yeast.  I am making a starter in this case to make sure my yeast is good because I captured it from a previous batch.  

I prepared a yeast starter on the Monday before my Friday brew day.  I wanted to make sure I had plenty of viable yeast as I had been saving this yeast for a while.  Doing it so early would give me a chance to repeat the process if I felt like I didn't have enough yeast on the first go around.  

Ingredients:  1.5 cups of dry malt extract, ~100 mL of yeast., 1.5 L of water

In essence, a yeast starter is a mini-batch of beer.  Add the dry malt extract to 1500 mL of water and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.  (Photo:  1.5 L Starter)  Cool the wort down to approximately 80 degrees using an ice bath as quickly as possible.  I cool it down to around 120 degrees F and transfer to my Erlenmeyer flask, then cool it down the rest of the way.  Add the yeast, and put it on the stir plate for at least 24 hours.  (Photo:  Stirring away)  I felt like I had a good batch of yeast and did not ramp it up any further, so after 48 hours, I let it settle, and put it in the fridge until brew day.  

Brew Day

Let's make some beer.  

I start off by adding 2 gallons of spring water to my brew pot (I think it is an 18-L pot and I use spring water because my water has a distinct chlorine smell to it.  I also put two gallons in the freezer for later.  I've used the spring water and have had good results so have stuck with it, although I admit it is probably not necessary).  I then add the specialty grains to the muslin bag and suspend it over the pot (Photo:  Steeping the grains).  I heat the water to around 155 degrees over 25 - 30 minutes.  I treat it similar to making tea, in that I swirl the grains around during the 25 minutes.  (Gratuitous tea bagging reference avoided)

Here is where I differ as well.  I go ahead and add my malt extract, and then bring to a boil rather than bringing to a boil and then adding the malt.  This is one of the spots where it is nice to have an extra pair of hands to stir while I add the syrup.  I keep stirring so that the extract is homogeneous and doesn't burn on the bottom of the pot.  

Add the 6 pounds of Pilsen liquid malt extract and bring to a boil.  I'll add the dry malt extract and sugar later.  I like to add some of the malt extract and sugars later in the boil so that I have better hops utilization in my IPAs.  

Turn the heat down when it reaches a boil so that it maintains a steady rolling boil.  I add about 6 to 8 drops of an anti-foam agent  - Fermcap-S to prevent boilovers.  

After the wort reaches a boil for about 5 minutes, add the bittering hops (Photo: 1 oz chinook hops).  The 60 minute boil begins now.  I set my timer for 45 minutes to start the late additions, stirring intermittently to knock the hops down off the top.  

After 45 minutes, add 1 lb of dry malt extract (Photo) and 1% ABV Boost (Photo).  Stirring well to make sure the extract and sugar dissolve in the wort.  I am out of Irish Moss, but this is where I would normally add it.  Irish Moss is a clarity agent, but not really sure it is necessary...  Also, at this point, I fill my 6-gallon carboy with 1 ounce of star-sans sanitizer and water.  Once the boil is complete, sanitation IS the most important detail for home brewing.  

With 10 minutes left in the boil, I add the next 1 ounce Chinook hops addition, and with 1 minute left I add the last 1 ounce hop addition.  

After the boil is complete, I set the pot off the burner and prepare the ice bath.  I didn't get any pictures of this (a lot going on at this point and I forgot), but I fill a large tote with 2 bags of ice and enough water to cover it.  Put the pot in the bath and let it cool down to around 100 degrees F.  At this point, I drain the sanitizer out of the carboy into either a bucket or the sink, and set it beside the ice bath.  I add a funnel and a strainer to the sanitized solution for transferring the wort to the carboy.  I take the 2 gallons out of the freezer and pour one gallon into the carboy using the funnel, then add the strainer and pour the wort through.  

This is another step where it is nice to have another set of hands.  As the wort transfers, you get some added oxygen from pouring through the colander as well as removing of the hops and other trub.  It usually takes emptying out the strainer a couple of times depending on how many hops were added.  After all of the wort has been transferred, I top off the carboy to the 5-gallon line.  I add a carboy cap onto it and aerate the wort (i.e. shake the shit out of it).  I use better bottle carboys instead of glass so this is another place where that is convenient.  

I pull a sample out of the wort with a beer thief and test my original (specific) gravity, 1.060 in this case.  About what I expected, considering the kit called for 1.050 and I added sugar (which is approximately 0.010 in s.g.).  

Adding the yeast is the next step.  I decant the liquid off the top leaving enough to make a slurry, and let it warm to room temperature (during the brewing process).  I transfer the yeast to the carboy, again with the funnel, rinsing it out with any available spring water.  I typically try to end with around 5.25 gallons of wort and yeast.  

I then move the carboy to the guest bathroom, and I use what is called a swamp cooler / t-shirt method.  I have been brewing a lot of Belgian beers this summer, so I haven't had to worry about it, but I like to keep my IPA in a given temperature range (68 F is about what I can achieve with minimal work).  I use another tub filled with water and will add an ice bottle in every few hours to keep it below 70.  I do this for the first 5 or so days of fermentation.  Also, for the first few days of fermentation, I use a blowoff hose.  I'll try and take a picture before and after tonight but haven't taken one yet.  Basically, it is a hose from the top of the carboy to a bucket of sanitized water.  As the yeast ferments it will form a krausen that will exceed the volume of the carboy.  After the krausen, drops down I will add an air lock and leave it before 10 days to 2 weeks.  After that I can store it in the bathtub or move it to a closet.  

The waiting is the hardest part

I usually leave my beer in primary for 1 month.  I have had good results and the reasoning for it is sound from what I've read.  This is the main reason I don't think I need the Irish moss.  I leave it in there to let the yeast clean up after themselves and to let the beer clear.  "Back in the day", homebrewers used spotty yeast, so it was necessary to go to secondary, but I don't really see the need and have not had any bad results with this method.  However, I will go to secondary for extended aging or for dry-hopping.

After 1 month, I will transfer this beer to secondary.  I will add the 2 ounces of hops for dry hopping and leave it for 10 days to 2 weeks.  

After 2 weeks, I'll bottle the beer.  Seeing as I have hit 2000 words, I'll leave that for now except to say it is a bit of work, and priming sugar is added for carbonating the beer.  

After 3 weeks, it should be ready to drink!  


I blog very sporadically on my friend's beer blog but I seem to have more luck updating   

This post is a Red Cup Rebellion FanPost. Please don't sue us.

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