CHICKENS MAY BE THE MOST VERSATILE ANIMAL YOU COULD EVER FARM
Now you have to cool that wort down! Quickly. This is what the gurus call hot-side working. Every action you take here has some detrimental effect on your beer. You must get oxygen in there, without allowing germs. You have to cool it to 20 degrees as soon as possible, because anything warmer, and your yeast will not survive. The most dangerous time for your wort is between 48 and 24 degrees, the growth temperature range preferred by our enemy: faulty hygiene.
Once the hops has been infused to tatse, it is time to take off the heat. Here starts the most difficult part of brewing. It is not impossible, but you will want to spend your first non-essential funds here. You need to construct yourself a cooler. There are many, many ways, including sterilised ice cubes. Tried it, it worked, sort of. Swozzling the wort in a steel pot inside a basin filled with icewater does work, takes half a night for ten litres, and will almost assuredly end up in an infected, sour beer. Once you have your sterile, cool wort in your fermenter tank, you are ready to PITCH THE YEAST.
Our logo, the crazy chicken, has forefathers in our history of wort cooling. Happily, that was all before we built THE COOLER. Follow this link to see an instructable. Once we had a cooler, brewing became a pastime of leisure. It was always a pleasure, but once we had a cooler, there was time on brewing day for other pleasures as well, free time for the brewery labourers, you might say. The trick is to get that wort from 70-something degrees to twenty degrees as soon as possible. Remember this one thing: Get the wort cooled down to twenty degrees as soon as possible. WITHOUT INFECTING IT. Then PITCH. You know about pitching? That’s what brewers call the seriously ritualistic act of adding yeast to the wort. Now we are making beer! Read on to see about yeast and other lively little critters.
In olden days, people thought beer happened because of many strange beliefs. It was only recently some clever guy with a microscope realised that those lively little microbes there are eating sugar, farting carbon dioxide gas and peeing alcohol. Not angels, demons or spirits, just plain microscopic little creatures eating and breeding and living their life, and then we enjoy their excrement. Nice, eh? Granted, it is the excrement of a very particular species of microbug. This is very important: The excrement of whatsisname cervensis tastes like beer, whereas just about every other form of yeast, fungus or microbe gives of waste that does not taste like beer. As a matter of fact, the excrement of just about every single organism other than C.Cervensis tastes like…poop?
This is why it is utterly, unforgivingly, important to be sterile in your dealings with your beer. Very many commercial brewers have difficulty getting this right, that’s why their beers give you hangovers and headaches before you even go to sleep. How many beer drinkers won’t swear high and low that Charley’s Palace Lager tastes better in cans than dumpies, whereas Red Sticker Beer is best enjoyed in quart bottles? Usually, the cans and the bottles are from different locations, each with its own set of infections, and therefor even a multibillion-dollar company cannot make the same brand taste the same every time. Imagine how difficult it is going to be for you in your kitchen. TAKE CARE.
The yeast does all the work, and boy, do they work! One of the fun things about your first brew is the gurgling and snorting from your air trap. If your beer does not gurgle, you probably have a problem. DO NOT OPEN TO LOOK. If you open the fermenter, it will surely attract germs. The only way to check on the progress of your beer, is to tap some and measure the SPECIFIC GRAVITY. Be sure to watch your air trap, you don’t want to suck that water into your beer! Once you can reliably pitch successfully, tapping a sample becomes optional. Just wait two days after the bubbling stops. Bubbling means fermentation, no bubbling is a fair indication that fermentation has slowed down enough not to matter anymore. This does not mena your beer has fermented completely. The yeast could have been stopped by many factors. Temperature shock, infection, too high an alcohol content for the yeast to operate…
Yes, you read right, if the alcohol level rises too high, the yeast die. Remember, alcohol is nothing but yeast pee. Imagine living in your own pee! This only really happens when your SPECIFIC GRAVITY was too high at the start. Or rather, too high for the strain of yeast you use. There are Belgian strains, for example, world famous for their ability to produce beer of 10 percent and stronger. Most yeast will stop breeding around 5 to 7 percent. If you dream of brewing forty percent beer, maybe this is the time to come back to earth. But maybe, just maybe, you will stick with brewing long enough to apply yourself to ten or twelve percent beer, which tastes almost like whiskey, so strong it is. Go buy a Duvel for example.
You have gone through the entire process now, and finally, after just about an entire week, you have beer. Actual beer, it will make you drunk just like Charley’s Palace brew, and if you worked cleanly and hygienically, it will actually taste cleaner, cause less hangover, and should not cause any health problems associated with infected beer such as Charley’s. It is, however, not exactly classy. If you were lucky and diligent, it should be more or less clear with minimal sediment. It will, however, be almost totally flat. Fear not, we fix that chop-chop.
First, we line up enough empty, clean and sterilised bottles for our beer. How many bottles? That depends on how much beer you have, divided by the LITRE capacity of your bottles. Eighteen litres and 330ml bottles means 18/0,33 = 55 dumpies. Because of sedimentation, we’d rather use 36 bottles of 500ml, or our favourite, 660ml bottles, and we usually fill around two crates and four spares. Two for the museum, and two for sampling when we lose patience waiting. That leaves one case for each of us two brewing buddies. As a final precaution, we use a small steam cleaner with a longer nozzle that fits right to the bottom of our bottles. This is how it goes:
Line up six empty bottles. Get the steamer (and everything else) lined up.
Put enough new crowns, plus a few spares for fumbling loss, into a bowl of boiling water.
Sterilise some honey. We gladly endorse Goldcrest, they are clean, pure, not irradiated. Mix 10ml per liter of beer, with equal amount boiling water in a sterilised cup. Prepare a clean, sterile syringe, the bigger the better. Mark it in 6ml steps for 660ml bottles, more or less, and just to confuse the issue, 10ml honey + 10ml water is not 20ml syrup. It’s a lot less! Stick to six mil, it is safe. Exploded beer tastes like failure and dust. Keep the marked syringe by the honey.
Put your fermenter where it is easy to work cleanly, like the kitchen table top. On the one side of the fermenter, must be space to work with the honey and six bottles. On the other side, place to work with one bottle, the bowl of crown caps, and the bottle capper. You want a sturdy table, that you can work on with some force in your arms. Capping the bottles can be difficult if you are too short, tall or uneven in your arrangements for this. Expect to waste some caps and bottles (with their contents) before you master this particular job. Save some money, and cap some water first. NOT ALL BOTTLES ARE REUSABLE. Not all bottles can be sealed using the normally available crimpers.
Right, now the dance starts:
Grab bottle, turn upside down, blast out with steam. Hand over.
Pump syringe 6ml honey syrup into bottle. Hand over
Open fermenter tap when drain pipe is at bottom of bottle to prevent splashing. Fill, hand over.
Take cap from hot tub, set on bottle, crimp. Put into crate.
Repeat above until the fermenter starts running yeast instead of beer.If it was a good brew, this yeast may be IMMEDIATELY REUSED. Look out for infections!
Honey dissolves water, so no stirring is needed for the beer once bottled. Age appropriately.
This is how to do the secondary fermentation and ageing and presentation al in one step. You end up with a clean, frothy, bubbly beer in a bottle, best enjoyed from a glass. Different beers actually taste different in differently shaped glasses. See this link for info on PROPER BEER GLASSES. The traditional German mug with the flare at the bottom is a very good compromise, especially if your beer is still a bit murky.
THE HERBAL Article Count: 57
The list of herbs at Greenpets. Identification and Propagation or at least how to keep it alive in Gauteng.
FOOD Article Count: 3
Right or wrong, good or bad, we have to eat. Everyone has to eat, and we are what we eat. Commentary and suggestions on important nutritional news.
BREWING Article Count: 8
The art of brewing, distilling and hydration of the body with the products thereof.
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