I’d like to apologize for the formatting in advance. I’ll try to improve it next time.
In all the years I’ve been writing for this blog, I’ve talked a lot about how a beer has turned out but I haven’t done much talking about what my process is for brewing. I don’t know that I’ll do this too often but occasionally I think it will be fun to demonstrate the A-Z of how I make beer.
The first beer I’m making this month is a dunkelweissen which I’m doing because I had an American wheat ale yeast in the fridge to re-use. That’s really the only reason: I’m going a darker beer with the idea that by the time it’s ready to drink, fall will be fast approaching and seasonally, it will fit. I could be way off base but the up side to that is that if I make a good beer, it won’t matter what time of year it is.
This process is using what’s called a ‘partial mash’, meaning I try to get some of my fermentable sugars from the grains I’m using, but I’ll also be adding some malt extract.
I start with the malt, pictured to the right.
There are 5 pounds of wheat malt, with 6 ounces of Carafa II and 6 ounces of C120 malt. It’s in a grain bag, which I then put into water that’s about 165 degrees F.
Now, generally you want to steep grain in water that’s about 150-155 degrees but I’ve cranked it up because for the next hour, this is going to be in this box:
This is a box I got at an OBC meeting and it’s traditionally packed with dry ice and used to transport medical stuff. I think human organs. So there’s that. However, it’s just a bunch of foam that’s been sprayed and formed into a box. With the lid on it keeps the heat pretty well but I can expect to lose about ten degrees of heat.
Despite there being only 12 ounces of dark malt in there, it really is all I need. After about an hour I pull the wort out to get liquid that looks more like this:
Once I’ve done that, I take the bag out the wort and put it in another pot. While heating the wort up, I also heat water up in a kettle to about 150-155 and pour it over the grains I just took out. I do this to get any extra sugars and flavors from the grain. Liquid malt extract isn’t very flavorful and doesn’t add much in the way of color so I want to get as much out of these grains as I can. It takes a little while but I probably run close to 1.5 gallons over the grains and add them into the pot.
With the grains rinsed off, it’s time to crank up the heat to a bit over 200 degrees but less than 210, and add hops. The German versions of wheat beer use Hallertau and the American versions add Willamette so I figured I’d just do both and see what happens. There will only be 2 ounces of hops added to this beer and with these varieties, I shouldn’t have any issues with getting a flavor that’s too bitter for the style.
That’s how it starts; next time, hop additions, yeast prep time warp and transferring!