Monday, October 19, 2009

Brewday pics

Here's a few snaps from my last brewday.

Weighing out the grain:

Getting ready to mill:

Roughly 500 turns of the handle later:

Grain close-ups


Note that the idea of milling the grain is not to completely pulverise it, but rather crack it and crush it enough to allow water to mix with the dry content of the grain. In the above photo, you might still be able to see some of the larger husks in tact. This husk aids in filtering grain particles when running the wort out of the mash tun.

Speaking of which, my mash tun:

The mash tun is the vessel in which the grain is mixed with heated water and left for a period of time. During this time, enzymes present in the grain break down the starches in to simpler sugars that can be later fermented by the yeast. By adjusting the temperature, you can adjust the kind of sugars that are produced, which in turn impacts the body of the resulting beer. Higher mash temperatures will produce less fermentable sugars and result in a fuller bodied beer, whereas lower temperatures will produce more fermentable sugars (easier for the yeast to convert) and result in a drier beer.

Inside the mash tun:

I have stainless-steel braided mesh to prevent larger grain particles from going through the tap, which in turn eventually stops the smaller particles from going through.

An hour after adding the crushed grain and water to the mash tun:

Collecting the start of the wort, waiting for the liquid to be visibly clear of grain particles:

Grain particles add tannins to the beer if they are boiled with the wort, which results in an astringent taste. This is why we want to wait until the liquid is clear before transferring to the kettle.

Inside the empty kettle:

Mash tun as it is being drained into the kettle:

Mash tun at the end of draining:

See how the grain particles have all compacted together, creating that natural filter for the wort to flow through without taking the particles with it.

After draining the mash tun, it is topped up with water again, left to settle, and drained for a second time to extract more of the converted sugars. This particular procedure is called batch sparging, and although it is not the only sparging method available to brewers, it is one of the simplest and requires the least equipment.

Weighing out the different hop additions:

The hops above are hop flowers that have been compacted into pellet form.

Hops are added to the kettle at different times during the boil. Earlier additions (boiled for 80-30ish minutes) are generally used for bittering the beer. Flavour additions are generally added between roughly 30-10 minutes before the end of the boil, and aroma additions are added in the last 10 minutes, or even after the boil has finished. The longer the hops are boiled for, the more flavour and aroma is driven off from the wort, hence the different timings.

The liquid yeast I used for this brew:

Once the boil has finished, the hopped wort is drained from the kettle and cooled down to fermenting temps (for the case of ales, around 20°C). Once at fermenting temperature, the yeast is added, or "pitched" to the hopped wort, and begins converting the sugars into alcohol. Three weeks later and with a little luck, I'll be pulling the first beer from this batch out of the keg!

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