January 13, 2013

Boiling Beer

So I made Wort yesterday. My beer kit arrived during the week and I was eager to use it. A little too eager it turned out. Having scrubbed everything down I started. Very quickly I realised that I was measuring in pints rather than litres. Everything had to stop then and I rushed out to the store to get a pot big enough for 12 litres. The confusion arose as our kettle is marked in pints which I assumed were litres. I also picked up Aalhambra while I was out as I noticed it on sale. It was on Tabletop just the night before and Wil Wheaton convinced me it was fun. Once I got back to the house I got everything in motion.

This is the wort just as it is getting to boiling. It looks very much like really putrid vomit. The previous picture shows the ingredients. The two cans in the pot at the back are malt extracts. I am warming them up so that they will be easier to get out of the can. Malt extract is a really sticky treacle when cold. The little glass jars are filled with Cascade hops for bittering and flavouring the beer. Once the water has boiled I popped the extract in, breaking the can opener somehow in the process. The hops went in immediately afterward. The smell this generated was interesting and while the rest of the apartment didn't stink to badly the entryway was quite bad. I liked the smell but nobody else did. I boiled everything up for forty five minutes. This breaks down the hop oils and complex sugars in the malt. Right at the end I added more hops for flavour. The hops added at the end like this give a flavour to the beer but none of the bittering oils. They really seem to be perfectly designed for beer. Boil 'em for bitterness and natural preservatives and soak 'em for flavour.

Once all this was done everything gets strained (sparged) into a fermenter. I bought two. These are basically big buckets with a tap at the bottom and a hole on the top for a fermentation lock. Once the wort had cooled to 24° I could add the yeast. I don't have a chiller for wort so this process took about five hours of waiting. Eventually the yeast went in and I could seal everything up to prevent contamination. Just before that I took a gravity reading of the beer. This is done with a Hydrometer and it measures the density of the liquid. Water has a density of 1 and I ended up with a gravity of 1.048. They .048 is mainly sugar that the yeast will convert into alcohol. I checked out some reviews of the kit I used online, a Muntons Continental Pilsener, and I achieved with a 45 minute boil nearly a third more sugar than if you don't boil. With these kists you can just mix everything cold and leave it to ferment. Boiling helps everything along as far as I am told.

Now I just need to wait until the fermentation kicks off which should be soon and I am well on my way to making beer!


  1. Off to a great start! Now the hard part.... waiting!

    1. Yep waiting is definitely the hard part! Hopefully it will be worth it.

  2. Well.... just back after watching Tabletop. Even Becca is thinking we should get a game of that in soon ;)

    1. It is a simple enough but still fun game. We should definitely get togehter sometime to play it.


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