The Joy of Homebrewing is more then just a book title. Brewing beer is one of those DIY things that can swell your pride once your delicious creation is tasted and enjoyed by others. You can say, I made that. I'm still in the extract brewing stage which doesn't allow me tones of flexibility when it comes to recipes.
Since its that time of year where Oktoberfest and pumpkin spice beers are more popular I decided to pick up two recipe kits from my home brew supply store, Adventures in Home Brewing. I picked up the Oktoberfest/Marzen recipe along with the Great Pumpkin recipe.
First I decided to brew the Oktoberfest. While I was buying my recipe kits I decided it was time to purchase a hydrometer to measure the gravity of my beer. This was something I have been brewing without. Measuring your before fermentation gravity and post fermentation gravity allows you to calculate the ABV of your beer. Which is something I haven't done in my previous four brews.
This past Monday after work I decided to brew the Oktoberfest/Marzen recipe from Adventures in Home Brewing in Taylor, MI. This was the third time brewing in my house using my gas stove top, I have been trying to use my propane burner the last couple times and it seemed to have worked better. First, I filled the brew pot with 2.5 gallons of water from my Brita and started to warm up it.
This recipe calls for specialty grains being steeped between 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. After steeping the grains for 20 minutes it was time to bring it to a boil. This took a long time using my stove top. It took half an hour to bring it to a boil. During this time I placed the 7.2lbs of malt extract in a warm water bath to make it easier to add to the boil.
After adding in the malt extract and bringing it to a boil I had a large brain fart. In the instructions it has 45 minute hops, 10 minutes hops, and 5 minute hops. This time around, I assumed that the minutes were how long the hops should be in the boil. Instead, it means that its how long into the hour boil to add the hops. So, after bringing the wort to boil I added the in the 7.5 HBU Northern Brewer hops. After 10 minutes of being in the boil I added in the 1/2 oz Hersbrucker hops.
At this point, I re-read the instructions and realized that it said "After 45 minutes of boiling, add the Flavor Hops to the boil". Realizing that the brew is now going to be a very biter flavor Marzen I held off the Aroma hops until 5 minutes remained in the boil. Once the boil was complete it is now time to cool the brew using my wort chiller. Something I didn't think about before brewing in-side is that my wort chiller doesn't have a sink hook-up. Instead, I had to hold the wort chiller connector to the faucet during the entire chilling period, and I made a pretty big mess in my kitchen.
Once the brew was chilled it was time to transfer it to the fermenter. I decided to take the hydrometer reading at this time, which was incorrect and the gravity was incorrect. After sanitizing the fermenter, siphon, and bung I added some cold water to the bottom of the fermenter and then siphoned the beer from the brew pot to the fermenter. During this time, I decided it would be a good idea to knock over my hydrometer test tube with the hydrometer still submerged. Now my new hydrometer is broken along with the test tube.
The Oktoberfest/Marzen bitter bomb is now in first stage fermentation and will be until October 21st. That is why I am working towards drinking my two hearted clone to free up my bottles. Up next will be the Great Pumpkin Ale. I hope to brew this and have it read for Thanksgiving. It may even be my first try at kegging a homebrew. I would like to get into kegging so I don't have to clean all of the individual bottles every time I make a new brew.