I, Brewer.

I'm on the eve of creating my third and fourth batches of beer after successfully brewing batches one and two in November and December. I have a few buddies who brew beer and until I had access to a couple of carboys, I've been reluctant to move forward in brewing my own.

In November, Dwayne from Yellowknife visited and he's been making beer for years so I asked him if he would guide me through my first batches. He happily agreed. I picked up a little bit of equipment from Wine Kitz, just down the road from me, and 2 beer kits: Brew House India Pale Ale and Brew House Stout.

We cleaned the equipment by sterilizing in boiling water, mixed the malty water with more water for a total of 19 L (supposed to be 23, but we wanted to make stronger beer) and then yeast. Easy!

To make the beer a little more personal, I added a bit of ingredients. The IPA was already hopped, but I boiled a 1/2 oz of cascade hops and added the water to the beer. I also added the peels of one small orange thinking it wouldn't make much of an impact, but maybe a little complex note. A week later I added a little mesh bag of another 1/2 oz of hops to add aroma (this is called dry hopping).

To the stout I added a bunch of spice: 1/8 cup of allspice, 1/8 cup of cardamom, 1/16 coup of cloves.

We set up the airlock by running the tubes from the stoppers into a bucket 1/4 full of water. For the next week a steady stream of bubbles and foam poured through the tubes - what a racket and mess. Fortunately, it wasn't too loud and no one complained about it being in our crowded little kitchen, though Lukas dropped a stuffed animal in the soup and Amber dropped toast into it. The mess was contained too.

When the main fermentation was done - about a week - I moved the 2 carboys into our cooler storage area and put little airlocks into the stoppers and cleaned out the stinky bucket. 2 more weeks of slow secondary fermentation and the beer was ready to bottle.

Though we collected bottles for 2 months, we still didn't have enough, so I had to spring for a dozen self corking bottles to make sure we had enough. Wine Kitz even lent me their bench capper for the night. I spent the evening putting 35 litres of beer into bottles and spent the next 5 days cleaning up as much as I could after work.

My assessment? Well, I'm certainly just starting, so I never expected to make an award winning brew.

The stout is too spicy, but I am enjoying it. I find it is mellowing out day by day, so in a couple weeks it will probably be as mellow as it's going to get. Great dark colour though.

I really like the IPA. It could be hoppier, but the orange peel adds another kind of bitterness which I like too. I have plenty to last me a long while. The best part is the pride I can take in producing it myself.

"Zaakistan Peel IPA"

"Riches Spiced Stout"


kevininspace said...

How did you control the temperature during the secondary fermentation? I live in a condo without a cold room, cold storage, basement or garage, so it's very difficult to have any kind of cool temperature control over extended periods. I'm considering buying a mini-fridge, as long as it fits my carboy with airlock, then using a temperature control probe as a second step.
Any ideas, tips from your and your cohort of home brewers?

Zaak Robichaud said...

Hey Kevin,
You really only need the cooler temperature for the bottled product. And by cooler, just cooler than 18 deg.
I would recommend looking at the CO2 method with a keg. Apparently, this is the most awesome way to enjoy a home brew: on tap.