Homebrewing 102, revisited
Well, first it was obvious that it was time to go all grain. I had learned through kits and basic equipment that A) I’m not an idiot and I can follow basic directions and B) its super fun and I enjoy the process and the product!
I don’t generally write about homebrewing, but I’d like to share this little hops experiment I participated in with my brewing group.
As part of Bitches Brew Crew, we decided to create a way to become more discerning about hop varieties. Each of us planned to brew a pale ale with the exact same recipe, and plan, each using a different hop. The malt was identical, and except obvious differences – equipment, personal variations in technique – the idea was to have the hop be the only variable.
My friend Lisa and I decided to go at this one together. It was the first time going all grain for both of us, and we needed some double checking to avoid severe failure.
After settling on Perle hops (Simcoe was taken, Saaz was too pilsner-y), I decided to take on the challenge of buying ingredients.
I went to Northern Brewer instead of Midwest because of some things I had read online about their helpfulness. I am so glad I did! Tammy, one of the managers, walked me through the steps from an abstract recipe of percentages and target values to actual amounts of grain to weigh and mill. It suddenly became so …doable.
It was some simple math and common sense after that point.
We won’t know the results for a few weeks; the group is getting together to taste and swap bottles on July 28th!
Generally we felt fairly confident. One question and one issue came up. First, we didn’t know when to add the final hop addition for dry hopping – in the primary or after moving into the carboy. Secondly, my least favorite part of the process – cooling – became a challenge since we had already hit our target amount of volume, we couldn’t add ice to chill.
After sealing the difficult bucket (see technique below), our fingers were crossed!
Note: I’m not publishing our recipe since I didn’t ask permission from our fearless leader, Jennifer. Some calculations are in the first photos. Contact me directly if you would like more information about replicating this experiment.
I learned so much from doing this from start to finish. I used the help of Tammy and the Brewer’s Friend website for all of my calculations, and I would recommend Northern Brewer to other newbies.
It was great to do this with friends – we played cards and made dinner while things were boiling. I couldn’t have done it alone, and I’m anxiously awaiting our results! Go Perle hops!