I spent an afternoon with my friend, getting to know the art of the home brewing process, and what a process it is.  

It wasn’t exactly Home Brewing 101, for my friend, Jake, just brushed on some of the first steps of home brewing.  It was like sort of a pre-requisite, like the class before the intro. 

I began to see how complicated a process you think wouldn’t be that intense, but it certainly is. 

Fundamentally every home brewing experience begins with the materials, and of course, sanitizing. I arrived at my friend’s house with these steps already done. 

The Brew process is very complex, but also can be simple with the right steps. This looked anything, but simple, to me, at least. 

When I arrived, it seemed, Jake was currently in the ‘mashing’ process.

Mashing is the brewer’s term for the hot water steeping process which hydrates the barley, activates the malt enzymes, and converts the grain starches into fermentable sugars. How to Brew, also defines mashing to include several key enzyme groups that take part in the conversion of the grain starches to sugars. 

Photo (Figure 79) – How to Brew by John Palmer

After the grain starches began to convert to starch into fermentable sugars, during the end of mashing, Jake began to measure the sugar ratio in the beer. I thought this was interesting, not realizing how perfect and balanced sugars need to be in beer. 

According to “How to Brew”, by John Palmer, each of these enzyme groups are favored by different temperature and pH conditions. A brewer can adjust the mash temperature to favor each successive enzyme’s function, and will be interesting to see how the taste comes in result’s form Jake’s preferred temperature. 

Once the boil was completed, I was then introduced to the next process, cooling the ‘wort’/fermentation. 

Jake began to send the boil to a whirlpool to collect any hop matter and coagulated proteins that have accumulated. After the wort was cooled, my friend moved it to the fermentor, which is usually a large stainless vet. 

I was very impressed with some of the brewing kit he had, specifically the mash and boil system.  There are so many different tools for brewing, it is almost crazy how intricate this process can really be. 

The next step is adding the yeast, and then the fun begins! The yeast gets to work, eating the sugars that were created during the mash. 

As they consume the sugar, the yeast expels carbon dioxide and alcohol, as well as a variety of flavor compounds that vary greatly depending on several variables such as the specific strain of yeast, and fermentation temperature of the beer. 

Fermentation time can vary greatly, from a few days for a simple ale, to over a month for lagers. With Jake’s respectable system, and his brewing process, his beer estimate was a little over a week, which is exceptional for a Double India Pale Ale. 

I did not stay for the conditioning process, for, that is one that takes some time – about a week or so, or even more – depending on the beer.

Jake was able to begin packing, which is of course the final step. He told me the double IPA ended up turning out great, and I am excited I was able to be apart of it (when I taste it, I will let you know). 

Stay tuned for more home brew posts.  

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