I've always been a man that will try everything at least once. So when I heard my pal brewed his own beer I knew that I would need to get my hands dirty in this manly art. Thinking back to my Viking ancestors and the strong ales and meads that they worked so tirelessly on I felt it was about time that I too, felt the fulfillment of the burly, barley, brewing experience.
Now coming into this I knew absolutely nothing, which is one of my favorite ways to start any new project. Luckily for me my barley mentor Dan Fairbrother has brewed just about every ale imaginable and perfected their method over many hours of painstacking trial and error, so needless to say I was in good hands. Aside from some "Wonder Wine" I had tried in the past I was practically a fermenting virgin. Alas, I knew my pallet deserved some real beer that my own hands had worked at so we dove into the challenging task.
We started the day off at noon and like any good beer brewers we began the meticulous process by cracking into our first Loki’s of the day (Courtesy of Paddockwood Brewery). Brewmaster Dan had already organized all the supplies we needed so now it was time to decide on the brew I’d like to make. We decided on an Amber Ale, the “crowd pleaser” as Dan so awesomely put it. After creating (Yes, Dan whipped up this recipe. Like I said the guy is a vet) and printing off the recipe it was time to start.
We started by filling it up a large pale with water. 32 ½ Litres to be exact!
After that we added the water into the Mash Ton. This baby was custom fabricated by Dan and his brother from a keg with a screened bottom and bottom nozzel. I should also mention that all equipment had been fully sanitised and cleansed prior to. Sanitation is an essential step to Ale brewing.
Once filled with water we turned on the propane and began to heat it up.
Once we had brought it up to our required temperature it was time to add the barley.
After adding it is is essential that you don't stir the barley juice as it will effect the chemical process that is currently taking place inside the Mash ton.
Instead we carefully recirculated the barley juice by filling up our pot from the bottom and adding it to the top. This keeps it from clogging up at the bottom while keeping the mixture at a calm state.
After that it was time to let it steep for a few hours. Time for a few more beers.
Once we came back the brew had darkened and reached the stage we desired.
We then took a sample of our mixture and did an iodine test to make sure it was at the right chemical balance that we needed. Success.
Boiling more water!
Once the water was boiled and added it was time to lift the boiling hot barley juice onto the top of this rickity old wardrobe (saftey first). Before doing this Dan let me know that this is the stage where one can definitely burn their face off (Good to know).
Luckily the lift went smoothly so we began transfering and filtering our mixture.
At this stage it was time to add the hops. This gives the ale it's aroma and bitterness.
Now the wort (what we call the barley juice at this stage) is chemically ready to start the fermentation process. In order to do this however, we first need to cool it down, this is where things get pretty crazy. Dan has this wort chiller contraption that basically runs a cooper pipe through a hose that has a syphone sucking the beer out through the hose that has cold water circulating around it cooling it down where it finally lands in our brewing pales at the perfect temperature needed - once again this was a custom creation by brewmaster Dan (once again, straight vet).
We checked the temperature while this was happening to make sure it doesn't fluxuate to much.
After filling up both barrels (one for me and one for Dan!) it is time for the offical taste test.
SUCCESS. Lastly we end things off with the most important step. We boil a mixture of water and yeast together before adding it to each of our barrels. This is where the actual fermantation begins. This is the time when every brewmaster makes a wish, as we've put in roughly 7 hours of work into this so far that we really want this final and most important step to work.
With that it's time to wait 3 weeks to see if this has actually worked!
Be on the look out for PART 2, coming to The Rooster near you where we'll bottle our beer, design our labels, and have the first offical taste test!
Hope you enjoyed reading and seeing as much as I enjoyed making it!
Nathan Emanuel Thoen