initially i wanted to get comfortable with the general process of making beer, ironing out the few possible variables in the simplified kits. within the constraints of using a kit the few variables that are in ones control include: sterilization, boiling temperature, length of time during specialty grain steeping, timing of hopping, type of yeast used, single versus primary and secondary fermentations, total time fermented, temperature during fermentation, and time allowed for bottle conditioning.
my wife and i will be moving in may to begin a medical residency in emergency medicine. i decided to wait to begin the transition to partial mash and all grain brewing until we move. ultimately when we buy a home i plan on creating a space in a studio on the property or in the basement of the house to set up a full brewing station. for now i use a gas range in my kitchen, which works quite well with an inexpensive 4.67 L granite ware pot.
the kit i am using calls for the addition of hops prior to boiling approximately 2.5 gallons of water(i don't play with water chemistry but do plan on correcting this in the future)
i then add my specialty grains to steep for 20 minutes while the water is heating up.
i think of this stage like steeping tea and make sure not to leave the bag in too long.
once the water with pre hops has begun to boil i add the pre made malt extract syrup and boil for about an hour.
i find it important to perform this boil at the lowest temperature that maintains a steady cycling of the hops. too much heat, i have found, burns some of the syrup in the bottom of the pan and brings all of the hops to the surface which can adversely affect flavor. towards the end of the boil the recipe calls for additional hops to be added. i have played with dry hopping but have not found this to sufficiently affect flavor given the minimal amount of hops that are contained within any of the kits. i plan on growing my own hops and adding much more than any kit calls for in the future. the wort is then cooled. i currently do this in an ice bath in the sink but plan on making a copper coil to achieve it more quickly. the yeast pack is then added with enough water to bring the total to 5 gallons in the pre sanitized bucket, which i use for the primary fermentation. an airlock is attached and i allow time and my single cell friends to do the rest.
my next post will show the secondary fermentation in about 2 weeks.