Call me The Yeast Herder – Part 1

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Today was brew day and now my 8 gallon brew bucket is slowly beginning to ferment in the closet. I’ve been interested in brewing my own for some time now and finally pulled the trigger. I decided to start out with a very simple one step pre-hopped extract brew. To any doubters, you CAN do this. This is more about my experience than step by step directions, but I might get specific at times.

The brew process was really pretty easy! Easier than I thought, I just made sure I had everything sanitized extra carefully, and that I had a sanitized surface to put my sanitized items on. You’ve heard people talk about insanity? Well this is sanity aka sanitation. I used idophor to do my sanitizing which is a very effective sanitizer that will take care of basically all nasties at only 12.5ppm (parts per million). I also kept a large pot of the leftover sanitizing solution in case I needed to sanitize things I had forgotten. And I did need to at least once, several times actually.

Major Failures

Once my pot got close to boiling, I pulled the extract out of the sanitizing solution and began opening it with the can opener. Now I have two can openers, one has nasty stuff all over the wheel and its almost impossible to clean, no way is that thing getting near my beer. The other one is a simpler mechanism and is way easier to clean. Well it also just so happened it was a complete piece of garbage. I managed to cut maybe 1 inch of the lid and then the wheel started spinning fruitlessly. The pot was about to boil over, my small apartment was heating up fast, I was beginning to sweat, I was losing my grip on the can opener, but trying to keep my cool lest I drip contamination into my precious extract. I didn’t want to turn on the central air during my brew in case it would kick up particulate that might fall into my open bucket later. I toiled and screamed at it to no avail. The words that followed were special words so ungentlemanly that they are reserved only for brew day mishaps and cannot be repeated here. I suppose though, anything that you don’t end up sweating and swearing during isn’t worth doing…but I like to be prepared. I struggled and somehow after about 10min just muscled the top off the extract, ignoring the last 2-3in of uncut can lid. This beer was getting itself made come hell or high water!

Never again! Next time I’m sanitizing one of those tiny wallet sized GI style can openers. If I need to open some extract under fire, I know one of those will pull me through. I’ve also heard that sometimes extract is sold in screw top bottles. That sounds so easy it’s almost cheating……wait what were we talking about, one step pre-hopped extract brewing? Alright well back to it then….

I was very sanitization conscious for this brew because the extract isn’t actually boiled so I wanted to be sure that anything going in my wort was truly uninfected. If you boil a pre-hopped kit it will ruin the hops.

My recipe had me bring 1 3/4 gallons (I did closer to 2gal) to a boil then turn off the heat and add the warmed extract and dextrose. I did have the option to use DME (dried malt extract) instead of the dextrose but I just went with the dextrose because it can be used for priming too. Since I wasn’t actually boiling anything for any length of time, I didn’t want any nasties from my can opener falling into the brew. However, 2 boiling gallons will hold that heat for a good amount of time and I’m sure the soon to be wort was around ~200F while pouring all the stuff in. Even so, I sanitized some bowls to hold the weighed sugar on my gram scale while waiting to be poured in.

The rest of the process went smoothly with no obvious mistakes but that doesn’t mean I’m worry free. Right now my biggest worry is that it’s too warm in my apartment. My instructions say to ferment at around 65-74, and my apartment is closer to 78-80 most days. I haven’t tried running the AC 24/7 yet, and in my new place I’m not sure how expensive that might be. I’ve never had central HVAC before.

I very much wanted to take pictures of the brewing process, but was more concerned about pulling it off so I didn’t end up taking any. There will definitely be pictures later on in the process.

I’m proud to finally say I’m part of the brew club! Sure I’ve made some cider in the past, but I don’t feel like that really counted, it was too easy.

Check out Call me The Yeast Herder Part #2 and Part #3

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