My Adventures in Brewing

I’ve been brewing for about 9 months and I think I’m getting the hang of the basics now.  Beer brewing is a bit like poker the rules are simple but actually mastering it takes time, practice and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.  It doesn’t take a lot of money to get a good beginner’s setup you can spend under $50.00 or you can spend thousands of dollars if you want too.  I also think it’s a great skill to have as a prepper/survivalist as alcohol tends to be easy to barter and even if you don’t grow grains, you add value you can barter and it’s also easy to store grains long term.

  1. Most critical in brewing is sanitation. I use a product called 5 star and it’s an acid base cleaner, think really hardcore lemon juice most bugs don’t like a high acid environment. But it can’t be considered a sanitizer by regulation as it only retards growth rather than kills little bugs.  I like it as it does not kill yeast and the good bugs needed for beer production. You can use boiling or bleach and with bleach you have to rinse well and get rid of the bleach smell at a min.
  2. Start with good tasting  water. I found coffee brewing gives you a good Idea on how well your water tastes. You can use bottled water or whatever you like. My tap water is good if I run it through a Brita pitcher before brewing. My tap water does have a bit of off tastes straight from the tap. But the water itself is good if I get rid of the residual chlorine from the water treatment plant. Hence the Brita filter. Remember the biggest ingredient in your beer is water. So start with good tasting water first.
  3. Temperature control, Ales are pretty forgiving and will ferment in temps as high as 75 degrees F but 65 degrees is better.  Lagers need a cooler temp. around 60  degrees F or lower on average. Sure If you have a fridge that you can dedicate to beer brewing that is easy.
  4. Get some connections from a local supplier of ingredients to a forum.  A lot of beer suppliers started as filling a niche they needed for themselves. Join a beer club or internet forum. Trust me doing a simple ale or Lager will get all kinds of attention.  I know I have had a blast learning about brewing and we have four brewers of several bents just in one block. Doing a simple recipe of ale or lager and doing it well will make you the go to person.
  5. Have fun make the best beer you like and or wine/mead and don’t be afraid to screw up. Even my worse fiasco,  my beer still ended up tasting better than 80% of high end cost beer in the super market. I will not even talk about how it would compare to  the bilge that is offered as beer in your local mega-mart.

I’m working toward whole grains but LME or Liquid malt extract will let you get your toes wet and get the basics down. I started off with a Mr. Beer Keg setup and it will give you the basics on brewing. It’s all a matter of learning and knowledge after getting your toes wet in brewing. All brewing starts off as wine or beer. Distilled wines are your brandies. If you don’t add hops your wort is a basis for everything from vodka to whatever.  All you need is for alcohol is sugars, yeast and time. The same thing that makes sauerkraut or sour dough bread makes all brewing possible.

Update: Here a couple of the All grain beer recipes I’ve been doing using the BIAB method

Amount Item Type % or IBU
5.00 lb Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 55.56 %
4.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 44.44 %
0.50 oz Tettnang [4.40 %] (60 min) Hops 8.1 IBU
0.50 oz Tettnang [4.40 %] (30 min) Hops 6.3 IBU
1 Pkgs Saf yeast 06 Wheat ale Yeast-Wheat

 Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.049 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.047 SGEst Final Gravity: 1.012 SGMeasured Final Gravity: 1.010 SGEstimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.85 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.82 %Bitterness: 14.4 IBUCalories: 207 cal/pintEst Color: 4.1 SRMColor: Color

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash OutTotal Grain Weight: 9.00 lbSparge Water: 4.65 galGrain Temperature: 72.0 FSparge Temperature: 168.0 FTunTemperature: 72.0 FAdjust Temp for Equipment: FALSEMash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out

Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 11.25 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F

Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

Instead of the mash I keep the Bag of grain at 154 Degrees F. for 90 minutes and make sure I let it drain out all available liquid before boiling the wort.

TableRock Nut Brown Ale clone

Author Steve Bader
Issue Mar/Apr 2003
TableRock Nut Brown Ale clone

5 gallon/19 liter, extract with grains; OG = 1.054 FG = 1.015 IBUs = 18 Alcohol 5.3% by volume

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs. (2.7 kg) Briess light extract syrup
  • 1 lb. (0.45 kg) dextrin malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Carastan malt
  • 6 oz. (168 g) brown malt
  • 4 oz. (112 g) crystal malt (120 °L)
  • 2 oz. (56 g) black patent malt
  • 2 oz. (56 g) chocolate malt
  • 5.8 AAU Willamette hops (bittering hop) (1.0 oz. (28 g) of 5.8% alpha acid)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) yeast
  • 0.75 cup of corn sugar (for priming)

Step by Step:

Steep the six crushed grains in 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water at 150 ºF (66 °C) for 30 minutes. Remove the grains from the wort, add malt syrup and bring to a boil. Add Willamette (bittering) hops, Irish moss and boil for 60 minutes.

When done boiling, add wort to 2 gallons (7.6 liters) cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons (20.9 liters). Cool the wort to 80 ºF (27 °C), heavily aerate the beer and pitch your yeast. Allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 68-70 ºF (20-21 °C) and hold at these cooler temperatures until the yeast has fermented completely. Bottle your beer, age for two to three weeks and enjoy!

All-grain option:

Replace syrup with 9lbs. (4 kg.) pale malt, mash your grains at 158 ºF (70 °C) for 60 minutes. Lower the Willamette hops to 0.75 oz. to account for full-wort boil.

Instead of the mash I keep the Bag of grain at 154 Degrees F. for 90 minutes and make sure I let it drain out all available liquid before boiling the wort.

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