Grain-Brewing Beer At Home - Recipe

How to brew beer at home using the all-grain method to make a sweet wort starting with a mash and sparging off the wort.

Home-brewing beer is a fun and satisfying hobby. Not only can you make better beer at home but you can make it for less money as well. Once you have mastered the simple steps involved in extract brewing you are ready to move on to the more involved but far more versatile craft of grain-brewing. Once the skills of grain-brewing are added to your repertoire you will be able to create new and exciting brews or duplicate special beers and ales not available worldwide.

Grain-brewing differs from extract brewing in that instead of starting with dry or liquid malt with some milled, malted grain for flavor you dispense with the extracted malt and derive your sweet wort directly from malted grain. This requires that you soak the milled, malted grain in hot water in a mash tun with a false bottom that will allow the wort to separate from the mash. You will also have to be able to keep running hot water over the mash (sparging) until six gallons of sweet wort has been removed.

The advantage of this method over extract brewing is that you are now completely in charge of the final product and can vary the types of grain used to make the sweet wort to make different types of beer and ale. An entirely new world of brewing is thus available to you and beers made from wheat or oats can be made as well as the traditional barley-malt beers. Mastering all-grain brewing will give you the ability to create any type of beer or ale you can imagine.

GETTING STARTED

In addition to the usual paraphernalia of extract brewing, fermenters, boiling pots, fermentation locks, plastic tubing, and funnels you will also need a method for extracting the sweet wort from the mashed grain.

If you are really handy you can create your own mashing tun using 5 or 10-gallon coolers and assorted bits and pieces. It is necessary to soak the malted and milled grain (the mash), extract the resultant liquid, and continue to sparge the mash with additional hot water until 6 gallons of sweet wort is created. If you think this is within your skills to fabricate, by all means do so.

A far better method that will save time and money in the long run and has passed the test of time is to buy a system already constructed. A company in Concord, California, Beer, Beer, and More Beer, has been selling to the home-brewing community for many years. They offer an inexpensive All Grain System consisting of everything you need to brew all-grain beers and ales at home. They are online at www.morebeer.com and can be reached by phone at 800-600-0033.



SETTING UP THE MASH TUN

If you are using two 5-gallon coolers, modified with false bottom, ½" ball valves, and a sparger, it will be easy to set up. Put the sparge-water (hot liquor tank) cooler on top of the kitchen counter or table, set the second cooler (your mash tun), with the false bottom, on a chair or stool about half-way from the floor and set your large kettle on the floor. When doing all-grain brewing, you have to boil the entire sweet wort at one time, so you will need a kettle that holds at least 7 to 8 gallons. You will also need a wort cooler to get the wort cooled down quickly.

CREATING THE SWEET WORT

Heat a liter of water for every pound of malted grain in your recipe to 165° F. Put all the water in the mash tun and add the milled grain. Mix thoroughly and let the mash stand for one hour.

While the mash is standing the malted grain is softening and the sugars are dissolving. This will make it possible to "sparge" the mash, or remove the sugars and get your sweet wort. While the mash is standing, heat an additional amount of water to 170° and transfer to the hot liquor tank on top of the counter. The amount of water you need will depend on your recipe and the quantity of grain you are using.

After the mash has stood for an hour, open the valve and allow the sparge water to flow down on top of the mash. At the same time open the valve in the mash tun so that the sweet wort flows into the kettle. Regulate the flow of hot sparge water so that it takes from 45 to 60 minutes for six gallons of sweet wort to flow into the kettle. Once the sparging process is complete, proceed to boil up your batch of beer just as you would if you had started with extracted malt.

BRIEF REFRESHER COURSE

Boil the sweet wort for an hour, adding hops, any other additives, and Irish moss as directed in your recipe. As you are working with a full boil it will be necessary to run the boiled sweet wort through a wort cooler to get it chilled down faster and avoid contamination with wild yeasts.

Place the cooled sweet wort in a primary fermentation vessel and pitch in the yeast. Cover and insert a fermentation lock. Place the filled fermentation vessel in a cool, dark place for two weeks. After fermentation has ceased and the brew has settled, proceed to bottle and age.

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