Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Beer Demonstration

I decided that since rain was in the forecast and my laborer (Nicholas) chose to fly up to see Tee this weekend I would take the day mostly off.

Rob from More Beer demos
all-grain brewing on
the BrewSculpture.
More Beer, in Riverside, was having a Brewday, demonstrating an extract and an all-grain recipe.  This was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the brewing craft and would normally be an opportunity to drink some free beer.  Sadly, I found out during the demo that their beer fridge recently took a dump and was awaiting repair, so no samples on this Saturday.  Bummer, but at least I stayed sober and somewhat focused.

Extract recipes are what I have been making all along (not entirely correctly, as it turns out after watching the demonstration) and are the easiest recipes to make.  All-grain is more involved, with all sorts of interesting things like mash tuns and sparging and what not.  All-grain is supposed to be sort of the holy quail of brewing, offering cost savings, greater creativity with your recipes, etc.  It also offers the chance to spend more money on brewing gadgetry, always a bonus.

Among the things that I learned were...
  1. Don't squeeze the steeping grain bag when you extract it.  (I have been squeezing mine, thinking to extract all the last bit of grainy goodness.) Turns out that that can introduce tannins, which you would want if you were making wine, but not so much in beer.
  2. Stir the liquid constantly while adding the extract so that it doesn't caramelize on the bottom of your pot.  (I've been kind of hit or miss with this.  It's hard to stir and add extract at the same when you're working alone.)
  3. Put the cooling coil in at the start of the boil.  The recipes I've followed previously have recommended adding the coil with about 20 minutes left in the boil.  Rob, our instructor, said that adding the coil later causes some possible problems, e.g. adding the cold coil in the middle of the process stops your boil and then you have to recover.
  4. You can add yeast nutrient to help your yeast get a quicker start on fermenting all the sugars into alcohol, which is good, because the faster the conversion to alcohol the less likelihood of bacteria getting to the sugars and causing funky flavors.
  5. The spent steeping grains have other uses, e.g. dog biscuits.  I've been just throwing mine into the compost bin.
  6. You can buy some really cool equipment to make your brewing easier.
I restrained myself somewhat and only purchased 1) a line cleaning brush, 2) a carboy brush, 3) a bag of bottle caps and 4) a vial of yeast nutrient, under $25.

I did add several items to my future shopping list, key among them being a BrewSculpture.  Yes, for $5300 you too can have a stainless steel beer brewing system with everything (well, maybe most everything) you need to run a semi-professional brewing operation out of your own backyard.

This thing really is pretty cool, but I think it is a tiny bit out of my league, at least until I really figure out what I am doing.  And actually, I think I can build a lot of this thing myself, so maybe I could make one for, oh say fifteen-hundred.

Sparging the grains in the mash tun.
At the low end of the all-grain brewing spectrum it would appear that an investment of maybe $300 will be required.  Again, I could probably DIY something, but I'd probably just aggravate myself.  $300 might be money well spent in avoided aggravation.

Whatever the case, I do really want to try an all-grain recipe.  After all, who wouldn't want to sparge.


Blogger Denise said...

Ching, ching. Ching ching.

February 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger BJackie said...

What is sparging, exactly? It does kinda sound like fun.

February 26, 2011 at 5:16 PM  

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