Fresh off a reasonably happy experience with my first homebrew (brown ale), I was anxious to make some adjustments to equipment and technique and do another batch. I still have around 30 bottles left of the brown, but they should be gone by the time the winter is over.
In the meantime, I decided to try my brewing hand at a recipe (page 92, if you're interested) from Sam Calagione's book, Extreme Brewing. But, first, there were some tweaks I needed to make in the kitchen. First off, I wanted to add a grain sack (with grains in it, of course!) to the pre-boil stage. I had purchased a floating thermometer to help me judge when (170F) to pull out the grain sack.
Then, the sanitation. You may recall I swore never to use bleach again. Iodophor, mission accomplished. Some additional components in the recipe included gypsum (for water hardening) and irish moss (for clarity). I didn't intentionally use these, rather the recipe called for them, ergo...
In the primary fermentation stage, the recipe called for light brown sugar to be dissolved into the fermenting wort. This was new to me as well. In the secondary, I'll be doing some dry hopping to add even more hop aroma to this IPA. Once again, new steps, though not very intimidating at all.
> I was very happy using crushed grains to help add additional flavor and body to the beer. Submerged in the water, with the temperature rising, it began to fill the kitchen almost immediately with a mashed grain aroma. Just one more step closer to going all-grain!
> Who wouldn't be happy with significantly cutting sanitation time? Using Iodophor was a no-brainer and something I should have done from my very first homebrew day. Some people are fine with bleach, not me.
> Adding brown sugar to the primary fermenter was simply just an additional step. So, a bit of sanitation (piece of cake, thanks to Iodophor again), boil water and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, incorporate it into the beer, and what did I have on my hands? Why nothing less than a vigorous fermentation for almost 48 hours, slowing for the next 24 hours, and finally coming to stop about 24 hours after that. For the first 48 hours, I even threw a towel over the bucket in case the airlock blew off.
> Poppin' the top on the primary revealed to me that the fermentation was a success (see picture above...or below). The gravity reading at this point was 1.014. A little taste test tells me that this baby might just turn out real nice! Next up is doing some dry hopping and letting it sit for another week or two. I'll report back later with the outcome.
What would I like to do next time? For staters, I've got to get the logistics of the various steps more organized. That will take some additional planning. As for the actual steps themselves, I'd like to experiment with a yeast starter, introduce real fruit into the secondary fermentation step, and use a homemade wort chiller. Baby steps, right?!
(is this picture with a flash better?)