Second Brew Coming Soon

The second batch of beer is well on its way! This time around I’m brewing an amber called Autumn Amber Ale, which can be found at Midwest Supplies. Unlike my previous one (a hefeweizen), for this batch I will be doing two stage fermentation; I will leave the mix in my plastic bucket for a week, then transfer it to a glass carboy for another week. Hopefully this will give me a clear and consistent brew since a lot of the sediment is excluded during the transfer.

To get the wort below 80 degrees I chilled it by setting it in cold water, all the ice from the icemaker, and several of my running water bottles that I’d frozen overnight. The combination was just enough – the mixture was cool after only 15 minutes of sitting in the sink. This was a huge improvement over last time, where I had to wait for hours after accidentally pouring the hot wort into the cool tap water for cooling.

Even with these improvements from last time I still have some things I can improve upon:

  • I could purchase the extra gallons of water in advance. These gallons could be stored in the fridge to cool much more than tap water, further decreasing the amount of time I’d have to wait before pitching the yeast. This would also give me better filtration, as I’m sure the tap water is less “pure” than that in the packaged containers.
  • I need to start earlier in the day next time. I stayed up until almost midnight. Instead of waiting for Layla to go to sleep, what I could do instead is have Kristin keep her occupied while I take care of the most dangerous part of the process (until the chance of a boil over is eliminated).
  • If I remove any of the ingredients, I can put a small note in the ingredient boxes on where I put things. The yeast in this current kit had to be refrigerated, so naturally I did so when I received the kit in the mail. What I didn’t do, however, was to let my future self know where I’d put it. This led to me frantically looking for the yeast with my boiling wort almost ready because I forgot that I put it in the fridge. A simple post-it note in the ingredient box saying “yeast is in the fridge – MM/DD” would have avoided the anxiety.
  • I could find a longer thermometer. The short one that I used would fog up because it was so close to the steam coming off of the wort. I also don’t like having my hand so close to the hot mixture. If possible I’d like to have a safer alternative.

Making beer isn’t particularly difficult. It is time consuming and precise, but all it really boils down to (no pun intended) is following instructions and engineering the process to go smoother each time. As I iterate my process each time I’m getting closer and closer to that goal of “smoothness” while enjoying a delicious reward each time.

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