What a Brew Day Looks Like

It’s fairly simple, stress free, and fast, although I’m always looking for the easier, faster, and simpler way. Let’s begin. First, if I am using reused yeast, I get it out of the fridge right away to warm up. You don’t want to pitch cold yeast into unfermented beer.

Trappist Yeast

This will wake the yeast, preparing it for action. You’ll notice the jar is filled with half yeast, half beer (how I collect it). For this batch. a Belgian Tripel, I will use about half of what you see.

I grab my pot, fill it with 6 gallons of water, heat to 150F, and add the barley.

mashing (barley soaked in hot water)

Soaking barley in hot water is called mashing. I usually mash at 155F but the lower temperature will make this beer a little more fermentable and dry, which is perfect for this beer. Anyway, put the cover on and wait an hour (actually, I stir occasionally just to make sure all the barley is getting wet…I probably don’t have to do that).

The mash is coming to a close. In the mean-time, in preparation for the sparge, I heat some water to about 170F or so. It’s about a half gallon.

kettle for sparge water

Now, i lift the bag of grains out of the pot with one arm, put the strainer in place with the other, and put the sack of grains on the strainer.

Strainer to set bag of barely on

Heat on. Now pour the sparge water over the grains. Sparging is optional for Brew in a Bag. I won’t go over the reasons I do it now, but it’s a pain in the ass to be honest, and I’m hoping to eliminate it in the near future.

Sparging, Brew in a Bag style

Start the 60 minute boil, add the hops (for this beer, 1 oz Goldings, 1 oz Pearle).

While I’m waiting, throw the grains away and clean the strainer.

dump grains into a garbage bag

When the boil finishes, chill the beer in an ice-cold bath tub. I use the ice that is already in my fridge, although in the future I’m hoping to use a large, utility sink instead of the bath tub. Stir frequently.

This will get the beer to about 100F in 15 minutes or so, but we need to get it as low as 65-70F. Finish it off with some ice cold water.

growler of ice cold water

Now we are about 2.5 hours into the process, almost done. Stir the beer, dump the yeast in, and place in my newly constructed fermentation chamber, which is set to 65F.

Fermentation Chamber (STC-1000, google it)

(that’s not a very good picture. I actually seal the top of the pot with aluminum foil). The secret to a great Belgian Tripel apparently is to gradually crank up the heat. On the fourth day I will crank it up to 75F or so, next day a little more, next day a little more, ending at 90F or so. This is apparently what actual Belgian brewers do. I love this style so much; one reason to get a fermentation chamber.

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