Porter #2 & All-Grain Brewing…

Porter #2 has been in the bottle almost three weeks now and is tasting quite good. A significant improvement over Porter #1. I actually drank a whole bottle of the stuff and found it very tasty. The first two bottles we opened had good carbonation, but the last two overflowed upon opening. I’ll try refrigerating the beer before opening, to see if that calms down the CO2, but I guess I’ll need to pare back a bit on my priming sugar when bottling. I do plan to brew this recipe again, so I’ll have the opportunity to make improvements.

I had an all-grain brewing session with my brother-in-law that was very helpful. My two batches of Porter have been an extract/grain combo, but I’m very interested in moving into all-grain as soon as I can. We decided to brew an IPA. The recipe was based on Torrey Pines IPA.

The process was quite similar to my extract/grain brewing with a couple of additional steps. First, rather than steeping the grains we mashed the grains. This requires a container that can hold five gallons of water at a constant temperature for about 90 minutes. Many people use altered plastic coolers. John uses a plastic bucket with a false bottom (so it can double as a lauter tun to drain the liquid and filter out the spent grain), and has an insulating wrapper that keeps the temperature constant during mashing. The second additional step is sparging, which is the process of rinsing the grains with hot water to get as much of the fermentable sugars into the wort as possible.

Brewers use gravity to move the liquid from one vessel to another whenever possible. With most steps in the process being able to work with two levels is enough. I do this often by using the kitchen counter and the floor. With sparging, though, you need a third level in order for gravity to work properly and it’s the hot (171 degree) sparge water that needs to be on the top level. I might be able to use the top of the refrigerator for my third level, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of having to lift five gallons of 171 degree water above my head. My other option is to get a food grade hot water pump.

It was great to actually go through the process and see how all-grain brewing works. It was especially helpful that his equipment is quite similar to mine, with the one difference that my brew kettle is 8-gallons (rather than 5-gallons) and has a ball-valve. Definitely put a little extra money into your brew kettle! You’ll be glad you did.

As soon as I’m ready to invest in some more equipment (a mash/lauter tun, a sparge water container and spray mechanism, and possibly a hot water pump) I’ll be moving into all-grain. Guess it’s time to teach some more knitting classes to get some cash for my homebrewing! In the meantime, I visited John’s local homebrew shop and bought an extract/grain kit for a clone of Alaskan Smoked Porter. I’m looking forward to another brew day!

Our next Beer & Knitting night will be July 12th at Yarns…at the Adobe. This will be our first gathering at a yarn shop. Food will be pot luck and my hubby will be providing beer, although I’m hearing that some knitters may bring some of their favorite beers as well. Anne has a beautiful patio behind her shop, and with some cooperative summer evening weather it should be a great evening.

After a very busy June, I plan to be quite ready for a relaxing night of Beer & Knitting come July.

-Jenne Hiigel

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