Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nick's Brew Day, part 3 of 3: Bubble, Boil, Toil and Trouble

For those of you not familiar with Shakespeare's Macbeth, the title of this posts hearkens back to a witches brew consisting of poisoned entrails, eye of newt, toe of frog, and a fair bit of demonic incantation. Now those ingredients were fairly difficult to locate at Whole Foods, so at the time of this writing I had to settle for Malt Extract, Barley, and Hops. The toil, trouble, and incantations did remain true to source however.

As you may have read in parts one and two of this trilogy, I have so far managed not to completely contaminate, spill, or otherwise bungle my first solo brew recipe. While riveting I assure you, the danger presented so far has only put the batch at risk. It's time to lay it all on the line; we're at the point in our story where things can actually get dangerous.

A Brief Preface:

While boiling the wort, you add malt extract which is probably the stickiest substance on earth. I'm talking along the lines of "movie theater floor," "I got pine sap on my hands," or "I super glued my finger to my nostril (again) sticky." During the boil, something can occur called a "boil over." I don't know if you've ever forgotten rice on the stove, but boil overs happen in the blink of an eye.

Now with rice, it isn't so bad. You just get that stinky sweet burned starch smell and have some crunchy stir-fry. With malt extract you better know a good contractor and flooring guy.

Hence: It's much better to do the boil outdoors.

For this purpose, I purchased a Bayou Classic Turkey Fryer complete with 7.5 gallon aluminum stock pot and thermometer. It's an awesome deal if you don't intend to fry a turkey; the process of heating up a flammable liquid over an intense flame next to an explosive container and then dropping 20 pounds of frozen American Heritage in there never seemed like that great an idea to me.

So to speed things along, I got my turkey fryer fired up and ready and started heating the water so that I could add my grain (to steep). I forgot from last time just how long, slow and agonizing it is to watch water heat up. I should have followed the directions and not tried to steep in the full five gallons of water. During the downtime, it really made me wish I had brought Macbeth along for some light reading.

Since I tend to do stupid things, I apparently picked one of the windiest days of the year to do my brew. Not being a kite aficionado, outdoor launderer, or wind energy entrepreneur, the day was not ideal. Every five minutes I had a gas blow-back.

No I did not eat Mexican last night: a gas blow-back is when the propane ignites where the hose connects to the turkey fryer, rather than in the burner. It can get very dangerous if it burns through the hose, so constant attention was required. This is where a partner would have really been nice, since standing around in the full sun for hours with no water or bathroom breaks kinda sucks.

Eventually the wort did finally boil and I managed to control my explosive gas emissions (lol.) I added the flavoring and aroma hops right on schedule and cooled it down with my wort chiller (although that took 45 mins instead of 15, I think I need more tubing.) I poured it off into my primary fermenter, added the yeast, and hoped for the best.

Stay tuned, next time we'll discuss secondary fermentation.

1 comment:

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