Making a Dunkel Pt 2

Part 1 is here, just in case.

Concurrent to the events in Part 1, I have also been making a yeast starter. It’s not a very good photo so I’ve collapsed it down but essentially what you have is a jug I’ve sanitized, put a simple syrup in (boiling water and sugar) and then added the yeast I’m going to use for this beer. This is to give the yeast time to grow before being thrown into a solution that’s got so much sugar that the yeast goes into shock. This shock can produce off flavors, which I don’t want. Plus, it’s one of the cardinal rules of homebrewing: use enough yeast. You do that, you’ll be OK. (The other rule: Sanitize everything.)

But while the yeast is propagating, I still have the wort on the stove, boiling away. You can make out some of the hops that I’ve started to add over the hour.

This part isn’t super exciting. I boil water and add hops; there isn’t much to it. Over the course of the hour there are various hop additions: I started off with more Hallertau at 60 and worked my way up to Willamette, until there was just a little Willamette that I added at flameout (when I stop boiling the wort.)

I also added three pounds of light malt extract (LME) with about 15 minutes to go. This way I can ensure that there’s at least some malt sugar to work with, because my method of steeping sugar from grain isn’t very efficient, and 15 minutes means that the malt has enough time in the boil to kill any bugs that might be hanging around.

When 60 minutes are up, I take the wort to the basement and begin cooling it down.

The tubes going in and out of the wort in this photo are what you can see of the wort chiller or heat exchanger. Cold water comes in, runs through copper coils and then comes out hot. After about 20-30 minutes, I have wort that was at about 205 degrees F, to 78 degrees (or less, if the recipe calls for that.) The hot water coming out I put into my washing machine, so I can use that water respectfully, instead of just dumping it on the ground.

You have to do what you can and this is what I can do. Brewing uses a TON of water and anytime I can take advantage of a recycling effort, I feel like it’s my duty to do it.

When the water has cooled down, I take a hydrometer reading to get the original gravity, which in this case is about 1.046. That doesn’t seem right: it feels a little low, given the grains and the malt but the numbers don’t lie. It is what it is.



After that, I put the wort into a carboy to ferment. The pan is there to dump the wort into the carboy by hand, through a strainer, until the pot is light enough for me to lift and pour directly into the carboy. Periodically, I dump the hops that get caught in the strainer into another container, which will eventually be taken to the compost pile.

When that’s done, I add in cold water until I get to about 5 gallons in the carboy.

This is…probably not what should be done. It is likely that I get away with this because Portland’s water is some of the best in the country. Certainly, if I had the means, I would have a larger kettle to boil in, so I could get closer to 5 gallons of pure wort. But I don’t: I probably get 3.5 to 4 gallons and that’s just the way of it.

All that disclaimed; It’s working, so to heck with it.

My last act (before cleanup) is to add in the yeast that’s been munching on syrup for the past three or so hours. At first sight, it looks pretty wild. Check out that line! You can totally see where the yeast is floating on top.

Pretty neat!

And now we wait.

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