This was our first 5-gallon batch (after spending a year or so brewing one gallon at a time – ugh) so it was probably inevitable that nearly everything would go wrong. As stressful as the brewing process was, we did get some good beer out of it in the end, so it wasn’t a total disaster.
6.6 lbs golden LME
1 lb Crystal 60 malt
1/2 lb Vienna malt
1/2 lb Carapils malt
1 oz Citra hops @ 60 min
1 oz Cascade hops @ 40 min
1 oz Centennial hops @ 20 min
1 oz East Kent Golding hops @ 0 min
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 vial White Labs British Ale Yeast
1 oz Cascade hops (dry hop after 2 weeks)
I chose hops with strong citrus undertones to give the beer the fruity, citrusy flavour that I was hoping for. It worked pretty well, though next time I think I’ll add some dried lime or grapefruit peel to further accentuate the flavour.
The process (click for larger images):
I didn’t have any clothes pins, so I used a guitar capo to hold the grain bag to the side of the kettle. It worked surprisingly well.
Here is the wort right after the extract had been added. This, it turns out, was our first mistake: we added the liquid extract without removing the kettle from the element and, not surprisingly (in retrospect) it burned at the bottom. We realized this during the boil when we found little black flakes floating around in the wort:
Gross, right? It could have been worse, though – Brew Assistant Alex was convinced that the flakes were some kind of dangerous chemical, but fortunately they are just weird and mildly carcinogenic.
Our next big mistake: covering the kettle while waiting for it to boil. It overflowed and left hot wort (and whatever that residue is) everywhere. Especially on the lid.
Low boil. Note all the gunk on the sides of the kettle.
After the first (or second, I forget) hop addition. It smelled amazing.
Getting ready to chill the wort. This was our last major setback: it turned out that the wort chiller didn’t attach properly to the faucet (I think it was meant for a garden hose). This meant we had to basically hold it in place, resulting in water everywhere, and very cold hands.
In the carboy, immediately post-yeast addition. There was enough headroom that we just went with an airlock instead of a blowoff tube. I hate blowoff tubes.
24 hours in it was fermenting beautifully. Of course, we forgot to measure the original gravity (yet another rookie mistake) so there’s no way of knowing how high in alcohol it was.
Here it is two weeks later when I added the last of the hops. The original plan had been to let it ferment for two weeks before bottling, but life got in the way and we ended up leaving it in the carboy for three and a half weeks, then in bottles for another two. Fortunately IPAs were designed to endure long voyages, so it turned out just fine.
All bottled up! Grolsch bottles aren’t the best, but they’re what we had and we kept them in a kitchen cupboard so we had no problems with light.
Pictures of the finished product are currently on my lovely assistant’s phone, but I’ll post them as soon as I can. Spoiler: the beer was awesome. Two bottles were infected, which was sad, but two out of 30 or so is a victory as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve got another IPA fermenting right now, so expect another brew-day narrative post soon.