Full of Potential

BYOB by | Dec 2014 | Issue #95

Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

In just a few weeks, a well-meaning loved one is going to hand you homebrewing supplies. Perhaps a small batch kit will appear under your tree. No doubt, you’ll have questions. I’m here with answers and “wisdom.”

Question: “I did <blank>! Did I mess up my beer?”
Answer: Probably not. Unless you’ve decided to gargle with your freshly made wort, you’re probably safe.

Question: “Did I infect my beer by not soaking my arms in Star-San?”
Answer: No. You’ll either be really cavalier and carefree with your first few batches, or you’ll prep yourself like an infectious disease specialist entering a ward. Aim more for the level of “washing my hands after using the bathroom.”

Question: “What does this piece of gear do?”
Answer: Usually break and cost you another 10–30 bucks. Outside of a piece of tubing, a bottle capper and a few buckets—everything is optional.

In General:
• Use clean, chlorine-free water.
• Cool your wort into the 60°F range before adding yeast.
• Fermenting beer is ~10°F hotter than air temperature, adjust accordingly.
• Crud in the bottom of your bucket is normal, as are the foamy bits.
• Skip secondary fermentation. Just leave the beer.
• Be patient. Give the yeast time to do its thing both in the fermenter and the bottle. It’s not going to kill you to wait another week.
• Use your first few batches to learn the basics of fermentation and sanitation. The crazy things, like a wild, oaked, green mango IPA can wait.

Remember: Wort wants to become beer. There’s little you can do to screw that up.

YOUR FIRST IPA (partial boil)
For 5.0 gallons at 1.071 OG, 72 IBU, 9.2 SRM, 7.4% ABV

1 lb. Carapils malt, crushed
10 lb. Pale Ale liquid extract
1 lb. table sugar

Heat 3 quarts of water to 170°F. Mix in the Carapils and wait 30 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve. Rinse with another 3 quarts of 170°F water. Fill your wort pot with as much as water as it will hold (under 6 gallons) and leave room to boil. (Ex: 3 gallons in a 5-gallon pot). Stir in roughly 3 pounds of extract and the sugar until dissolved completely. Bring to a boil and add your first two hops. 45 minutes later, turn off the heat and add the remaining extract. Stir completely to dissolve. Return to a boil and 15 minutes later, turn off the heat, add the Centennial, stir and steep for 10 minutes. Chill the batch and add to a fermenter with enough water to make 5 gallons. Shake well and pitch the yeast.

Hops (pellets)
1.0 oz Magnum | 14% AA | Boil for 60 minutes
0.25 oz Chinook | 13% AA | Boil for 60 minutes
1.0 oz Centennial | 10% AA | Add after heat is off and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
1.0 oz Centennial | 10% AA | Dry hop by adding to fermenter after foam subsides.

US-05 Dry yeast (Rehydrate in warm water before pitching.)

Ferment in the mid 60°F range for 2–3 weeks. Add dry hops after week 1; bottle after 2–3 weeks. Wait another 2–3 weeks before popping open a bottle.