Mission Brewpossible

What beer will I discuss today? Mine. Recently I redirected a chunk of my tax return toward – wait for it – homebrewing equipment. That’s right, faithful readers; the time has finally arrived.

I bought the following gear:

  • Two 5-gallon buckets (one primary fermentation vessel, one bottling vessel)
  • One 20-quart stainless steel pot (for boiling the wort)
  • One racking cane/hose and one bottling cane (for siphoning wort/beer)
  • One hydrometer (for measuring gravity)
  • Forty-eight 12-ounce amber glass bottles
  • One Brewer’s Best recipe kit for a Belgian-style tripel
  • Other assorted items (bottle brush, thermometer, bottle capper, etc.)

I found this stuff at What Ale’s Ya, the homebrew supply store I mentioned in my first Beer Pioneer article. After rushing these new toys home, I called my beer brother Ryan to come over and help set up. We poured 2 gallons of drinking water into the 20-quart pot and started steeping the aroma grains. Next we removed the grains and brought the water to a boil — or tried to. After two hours on high heat, however, our water still refused to boil. Confounded, we began hunting for the cause of this conundrum like bloodhounds on a scent. Upon realizing that we were neither Sherlock Holmes nor Batman, we gave up and called What Ale’s Ya. Turns out their pots have raised bottoms. And my stove has flat glass burners. D’oh.

The friendly folks at What Ale’s Ya refunded my money for the pot and replaced the grains. We acquired a new vessel – this one 22 quarts and flat-bottomed – and tried again. Things went much more smoothly … until we had to cool the wort. This is a heavy, sweaty job, and our wort just wouldn’t cool quickly enough. To avoid bacterial infection, we cooled it as much as we could, pitched the yeast, sealed up the fermentation bucket, and prayed those little guys weren’t roasting in their own private hell-sauna.

Twelve hours later, the water in the airlock – a small device that lets co2 escape while keeping air and bacteria out – was bubbling jovially. The yeast survived! Fermentation had begun. By the second or third day, each new bubble smelled of tripel. Eureka!

Next comes bottling, which we’ll probably do a day or two after I post this, when the initial fermentation has ended. Then we’ll melt some priming sugar; pour that sugar into the bottling bucket; siphon (or rack) the beer from the primary fermentation bucket into said bottling bucket; and fill the bottles, where that new sugar will trigger a secondary fermentation. A third of my 12 ounce bottles will age for 3 weeks; two thirds will age for 6 weeks; and a single bomber will sit in storage for 9 long weeks. I’ll report back here with mini reviews of each — assuming the first set doesn’t taste like sewer water.

11 Responses to “Mission Brewpossible”
  1. Shawn says:

    You are making me thirsty…hopefully it comes out ok.

  2. Deb says:

    I hear that the initial process smells awful. True?

  3. James W. says:

    I’ve been aching to homebrew for some time. Space contraints have kept me from trying as of yet. Looks like you are headed down the right path here. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  4. Ben says:

    i am considering setting this up as well, but have fucking zero patience for anything.

  5. Ben says:

    I see Godzilla in the pot’s refelction. That 50 story, 10-ton stealth bunny can’t hide from me.

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