52 Weeks 52 Tests – Week 17 – Making Beer at Home

In the land of Tiger beer and cramped accommodation, who would want to go through the hassle of crafting its own brew? Hipsters?
Probably, I definitely have a hipster side, except I don’t dress like one. No, I am too normcore for that…

Anyway, for this 17th week of experimentation in 2015, I got a Beer Making Kit from US hipsters from Brooklyn Brew Shop, and ordered via Singapore’s HipVan

The kit packs everything special you might need for the DIY endeavor.

I soon realised how short I fall in terms of kitchen equipment. I lacked many things, from large enough recipients for the wort, containers large enough for sanitizing the utensils items, a large strainer and even a funnel… But you can always make do, so I got started anyway.

The Mash

It all starts with the Mash, which is basically like making oatmeal with the grains. It was pretty tough to keep the temperature in the range of 61 to 68 degrees Celsius as advised, and I had to turn on & off the stove regularly and check every 5 minutes…

I was drinking Sapporo beer whilst making my own, to give me courage.
Unexpectedly, when I return to the living room whilst waiting for having to stir the pot again, I had a sip of Sapporo but connected with it on a different level as I was distinctly tasting the grains underlying the beverage.

A beautiful sensation, really.

The Sparge

Once you have “mashed out”, the goal is to suck all the fermentable sugars out of the grain and collect them through the liquid called “wort” (pronounced “wert”). After adding the hot grain mash to the strainer, additional hot water at 77 degrees Celsius is added to the strainer, as you collect the liquid passing through that will become the beer…

 

The Boil

Once about 4.75 liters of wort are collected, it’s time to boil it for 60 minutes, and to add the hops…

2 classic varieties of hops (Columbus and ChinHook) came in granules, in cute “sous-vide” little sachets, and they smell absolutely wonderful… I even kept the sachets to sniff them again later…

Columbus hops

Every 15 minutes, for one hour, you should pitch in a few hops. At this stage, it really started to smell more like beer, and less like a sweet grain mash.

The Fermentation

After giving the boiled wort an ice bath and bringing its temperature down to 21 degrees (not a small feat in Singapore’s 30 degrees average climate, which cost me half of 5kg 7-Eleven Ice bags and the use of all my sportsman icepack), it is time to let the magic happen and the fermentation begin.

Sounds easy enough, but without a large strainer and a funnel, how do you transfer 4+ liters of wort into the glass fermenter without splashing liquid everywhere… I dug a hole in the cap of a protein powder bottle I had saved before (had no idea why it could be useful but I had somehow sensed it would, one day, pretty happy about that :-). Then I secured the strainer on top of the protein-jar funnel with my beloved duct tape and started pouring in the soon-to-become beer.

Then pitched the yeast, and shook aggressively to wake it up and kick start fermentation.
At 2.20 am I was done with the hardest part of the process, tired but happy.

Ta-da!

In 2 to 3 weeks, I should have a gallon of beer, ready to be bottled, refrigerated, and consumed. I wonder how it will turn out…

Stay tuned 😉

Update D+1: It’s bubbling! Signs that fermentation is in progress…

For the comprehensive list of my weekly tests so far this year, click here

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