Valentine’s Day IPA: Brewing

Heather thoughtfully gifted me the recipe and ingredients for an IPA as a Valentine’s Day present. It’s time to brew!

When brewing a 5 gallon extract recipe the volume of wort we add to the fermenter will be less than 5 gallons. To reach the desired batch volume we will need to add some water to the wort in the fermenter. Ideally this water will be boiled (to sanitize it) and chilled (so it won’t be too hot and kill the yeast) before we add it.

As our first process improvement, while the grains are steeping we boil and then refrigerate about 1 gallon of water. It will be added to the fermenter before the yeast is pitched. With this technique we will avoid the situation we experienced while brewing the previous batch; that of not having clean water available at the end of the day.

The specialty grains are steeped for about 50 minutes at a starting temperature of 170F. This time we do not use a grain bag to hold the grains while steeping.

When the mash is done we pour the grains and water through a strainer into the brew pot. The grains collect in the strainer and a spoon is used to press them and extract as much remaining liquid as possible.

Early on I burn my right hand on the handle of the brew pot. That’s all the lesson I need to remember that it gets very hot!

When the boil is done we cool the wort by placing it in the sink, adding ice around the brew pot, and then filling the sink with water. The pot is kept partially covered to reduce the potential for contamination by foreign bacteria. Fully covering the pot has too much of a negative effect on evaporative cooling, and chilling the wort already takes over an hour, so I choose a half-on, half-off approach.

Dinner is served while the wort cools. Mmm, cheesy herbed noodles!

Summary of notable process items:

  1. About 1 gallon of water is boiled and refrigerated during the mash.
  2. Temperature of the partial mash is 170F.
  3. Grains are steeped without a grain cloth.
  4. Sparging is done by pouring through a strainer into the brew pot.
  5. Steeped grains are pressed through a strainer to extract more wort.
  6. Wort is cooled in the sink, lid partially on, via an ice water bath.
  7. Cooling takes a little over 1 hour.
  8. The wort is not strained while pouring into the fermenter.
  9. No hydrometer reading is taken, so the original gravity is unknown.

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