happy 4th! independence day means… BEER! it goes with: pretzels, nuts, chocolate, bread, pizza, pasta, indian, asian, cheese, sake, bbq, sandwiches (but what doesn’t?), mexican…etc. you get it. one of my good friends is an engineer (biomed, but who’s counting). my friends and i love beer. we live in a state where microbrews and ipas shine brighter than vin diesel’s forehead. it’s true love.
a couple of weeks ago – 4 to be exact – my friend and his girlfriend decided to take a stab at creating their own beer, a huynhing beer (pronounced winning). it turned out to be just that. it’s sweet, and hoppy, and has all the american pale ale perfectness it could ever have. the process is moderately inexpensive once you have all the parts and pieces (initially about $120 via craigslist – considering you re use the bottles – and then you just have to buy a few ingredients for each batch) and sounds like it’s more fun than strenuous. the question: why didn’t our dads have us do this for our 5th grade science fairs? something to think about….
this is it’s journey:
it all starts with cleaning & sanitizing the tools.
ingredients for the american pale ale. complete with malt extract, steeping grains, hops and yeast.
the boil: over the course of about 1 hour, ingredients are mixed in at specific times and temperatures. the finished product of the boil is called wort (pronounced wert) which is essentially, the unfermented beer. here, is where he thinks he developed the sweetness of the final product. the timing and temperature are very specific. if you boil it too hot, the yeast burns and there is not enough to “eat” up all of the sugars, thus creating a sweeter beer.
this is the wort fully poured into the fermenter. it was poured WAY too hot, which is evident by the separation.
the next morning, things have evened out in the fermenter.
the first signs of fermentation, BUBBLES! as the yeast starts eating the sugars in the wort, they “poop” out carbon dioxide, giving you tons of bubbles.
a montage of fermentation over a 3-4 day period. it’s alive!
once the initial fermentation subsides, the blow-off tube (clear tube at the top) can be removed and replaced with an airlock to save space. it is imperative that as little oxygen gets in to the tube as possible.
close up shot of the airlock. air can get out, but it can’t get in.
after about 2 weeks, the fermentation will subside. the hydrometer will help you decipher when your beer is done fermenting. it is used to test the “specific gravity” of your beer. when the gravity remains unchanged for 2-3 days, your beer is ready! here is the hydrometer floating in the beer. wherever the top of the beer reads on the lines of the hydrometer is what the gravity is. the difference between the gravity before fermentation and at the end of fermentation is used to estimate the alcohol content of your beer. this one was 4.5% alcohol.
when fermentation is complete, its time to siphon the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket to help with bottling.
the finished products: 44 12-oz bottles and half a growler of homemade beer.
no beer is complete without a label.
tadaa! the first pour of the batch… looks, smells and tastes like (great) beer!
here are eric’s step-by-step directions including the ingredients and tools necessary to make the ultimate huyning american pale ale.