On Saturday, I attended my beer making class in the City.
We spent the first two and a half hours talking about beer and sampling various beers including:
- Firestone Walker Wooky Jack
- Firestone Walker Double Jack
- Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
- Highwater Campfire Stout
- Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale
- Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel
- Cinder Cone Red Ale
- Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA
- Morpho Herbal Ale
- Trappist Westvleteren quadruple
- And more…
You can imagine we were all pretty loopy at the end of this tasting, which also included passing around various barley malts to try and hops to sniff.
My class consisted of 5 guys and 5 girls, broken into three groups to each make our own beer of choice. My group had a very handsome (yet gay) British man in it. He was a lot of fun. We had a great time making our beer – a Baltic Porter – which will be ready to drink in four and a half weeks. Our method was the Extract with Steeped Grains method.
What did I learn about beer making? I learned that even though it’s a simple microorganism creating the beer, the process and execution is actually quite complicated. It also requires quite a it of an investment in materials.
The basic process was this:
- Pick out your recipe.
- Measure out your grains.
- Mill the grains.
- Make a giant tea bag out of the grains and steep in 150F water.
- Steep 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
- Remove tea bag.
- Measure out malt extract.
- Add to steeped grain mixture and stir.
- Add your first round of hops – for bittering.
- Boil for one hour.
- Add your second round of hops – for aroma.
- Pump mixture through a heat exchange (to cool it) and into your glass fermenter.
- Measure the specific gravity (sugar content) of your mixture. Ours was 1.083 or 11.5% sugar. Our finished product should be a about 7% alcohol which is lower than your typical Baltic Porter but the highest our teacher would allow us to go.
- Add rehydrated yeast solution to the cooled mixture.
- Cap the fermenter
- Let the mixture ferment.
It was a fun class, but a very long process. It took us 7 hours to complete everything. My favorite part was steeping the grains and watching the color develop in the water. I also enjoyed the science of fermentation – how yeast change glucose molecules into alcohol and carbon dioxide via their metabolic pathway.
Here are some pics from the day: