Saturday, January 7, 2012

Brewing Again

So, I got a turkey fryer for Christmas. Some might think this an odd gift, but those people are probably not home-brewers. Today marks my first attempt at beer-making in 3 years. I hope I still have the touch. My fingers are crossed! I will keep a log of this batch on this blog.

This is an English Bitter Ale recipe borrowed from Charlie Papazian's New Complete Joy of Home Brewing.  It has been modified slightly to fit my own needs and tastes.  See ingredients and brewing notes below:


  • 5 lbs. Munton's Amber Dried Malt Extract
  • 1 lbs. whole grain crystal malt
  • 2 oz. Kent Golding Hops (whole leaf)
  • 1 oz. Fuggles Hops (pellet)
  • Wyeast English Ale Yeast #1098
I started the yeast last night, and kept it on the refrigerator.  By brew-time the packet was nice and fat! I have seen Wyeast packets take three days to prime, and I have seen them ready in a couple of hours.  This one seemed to be pretty active right away.  Nonetheless, I thought it better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Fill brew pot with 2-3 gallons of water.
  2. Crush crystal malt into straining bag.
  3. Place straining bag into water and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boil is achieved, remove grain and squeeze as much water as possible into wort.
  5. Continue to boil and add malt extract.  Continuously stir wort so as not to burn to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add 1 oz. of Kent Golding Hops and 1/2 oz. of Fuggles.  Boil for 30 min. (Boiling Hops)
  7. Add 1/2 oz. of Kent Golding Hops and 1/2 oz. of Fuggles.  Boil for 13 min. (Flavor Hops)
  8. Add last 1/2 oz. of Kent Golding Hops for last 2 minutes of boil. (Aroma Hops)
  9. Sparge wort into fermenter partially filled with cold water.
  10. Add contents of yeast packet when wort temperature has cooled to around 70 degrees F.

The boil was pretty flawless.  The turkey fryer is a Bass Pro Shops signature unit.  It has a 20 minute timer that has to be reset often or the flame will go out.  I forgot it once, and had to relight.  This is a nice safety feature for turkey frying, but it isn't so useful for brewing.  Otherwise it is an outstanding centerpiece for my brewkit.  
My real trouble came after the boil.  I have an immersion chiller which connects to the spigot on the brewpot on one side, runs through a bucket of water, then dumps into the fermenter.  This all works well on paper. I imagine the chiller would have done its job well had I actually been able to send wort through it.  The spigot in the brewpot became clogged with hop-trub almost immediately.  I unclogged it a few times, but gave up on it when I realized how long this hot wort was going to have to sit there. I dumped the wort into a spare sparging bucket (formerly part of my immersion chiller) equipped with a bigger spigot. There was still so much trub that the bucket didn't fare much better than the brewpot. It was a little easier to remove clogs from the bucket's spigot, so the wort eventually made it to the fermenter.  It is winter, and temperature control is an issue.  I am fermenting in a basement room next to my water heater.  It looks like this room stays a steady 65 degrees F.  If I have time (and if the yeast is active) I plan to move this batch to a second fermenter next weekend, and repitch the yeast into a new batch. Blog updates will follow the progress of both batches.  With any luck this beer will be ready to drink in three weeks!