Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer!

I’m finally ready to go All-Grain, the grown-up version of homebrewing. Think of it as cooking from scratch, like baking your bread and making your own gravy. Then letting it sit around in a glass jug for a few weeks and ferment.

First, you have to soak your malted barley that’s been crushed in hot water (about 155º) for about an hour. That allows the enzymes in the barley to convert the starches present into sugars, and the water begins to extract them, like brewing coffee or tea. Then you drain the water out, and rinse the remaining sugars (that are stuck to the barley) with some more water, and proceed to boil it for about an hour with hops to make your beer.
First I made my mash tun, which is the vessel in which the malted barley soaks with the water. You need a way to separate the grain from the water, so a “manifold” with small holes drilled in it is the way to go. I used CPVC because it’s cheap, easy to work with, and holds up to hot water. I also had to drill a hole in the side of my cooler.

And I always make things harder on myself than necessary, so a multitude of tools is needed
Here are all of my pieces of cpvc all cut up and drilled
And the finished manifold
Here’s the outside of the cooler. It has a ball valve so I can keep water from draining out of it, and a nipple for some tubing to go onto to drain it into my brew kettle

After you drain your sugar water or “wort” into the kettle, you usually end up with 6-7 gallons that you will boil down to about 5.25-5.5 gallons. This concentrates the sugars, and boils off some volatile compounds that make beer weird. This boiling process also allows you to extract flavor from the hops that you add, and sanitize the wort so you don’t have bad/weird bacteria that will attack it and give you diarrhea, or just make the beer taste funny. Similar to boiling pasta, all of this sugar (in the case of pasta, starch) in the water makes it foam like crazy. I have a 15 gallon pot that should allow me to brew 10 gallon batches (cutting my work to beer ratio in half), but it looks kinda silly with 5 gallons of water in it.

After boiling 5 gallons of wort, you must then cool it down. The longer it takes to get from a boil to a temperature that yeast can survive at, the cloudier your finished product will be, and the more likely you are to open the wort up to an infection from a microorganism that isn’t yeast. It is because of this that people use chillers. This particular type is the cheapest type, but perfectly effective, an immersion chiller in which you run cool water through copper tubing (which is very conductive). The cool water absorbs the heat from the boiling hot wort, and the waste water comes out warm, nice for watering plants (make sure it’s not too hot!). Here’s my immersion chiller.

Photos of the process when I finally brew!

Categories: DIY

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