Typical Brew Day

I wanted to outline my typical brew day. This may not reflect how other home brewers’ days go, however I hope it gives you an idea of what to expect if you are looking to get into brewing.

One thing you may be considering first is whether to go with extract brewing or all-grain brewing. From my experience, the only extract brewing I did was with the Mr. Beer Kits. After that, I jumped straight into all-grain brewing. It’s not a huge difference, however there are some added equipment costs and a little bit more learning that is needed.

First is deciding what style of beer you want to brew and them coming up with a recipe.
Recipe:
  • Ingredients
    • Grains (Malt)
    • Hops
    • Yeast
    • Water
  • Recipe Builder
    • iBrewMaster’s iPhone App – this is very useful in creating your recipes and managing your brew day process. You can then track your brew throughout its life cycle. It even alerts you, to keep you on track.
    • Brewmaster’s Warehouse Brew Builder – great to build recipes with a one-click button to buy the ingredients – they have a great grind on their malts.

2 – 3 Days Before

  • Ice
    • Process:
      • Collect some ice or freeze some water bottles – you may need this for your cooling process.
  • Alternatively
    • Process:
      • If your tap water is cool enough, you can use that, however you will have  run-off to deal with, so be prepared to water some plants or grass for the most water conservation.
      • If you have a pool, a nice submersible pump works wonders, especially during winter.
      • Use either of the above in conjunction with Ice, during the hot summer months.


1 Day Before
  • Sanitizer/Cleaner
    • Starsan
      • This works great as a sanitizer and is probably the most popular option.
      • It is reusable as long as you store in in a sealed container (bucket/sealed lid) and was not used to clean your equipment. Dirty sanitizer is still dirty.
      • You can test it’s effectiveness with a pH meter or pool test strips
    • Process:
      • Technically it only needs to be in contact with the item for 1-minute to be effective, but I usually set them over night to have them ready.
      • Soak your fermentation carboy/bucket.
      • Soak your keg/bottles.
  • Water
    • Amount
      • You will need to calculate the volume of strike water and sparge water needed. An easy method is to use the recipe creator to calculate the amount of water you will need, however you should learn the calculations being done to ensure it comes out correct.
      • Calculation Details
    • Process:
      • Set out your water (boil size amount) over night – this will help remove any chlorine/chloramine from it.
      • Alternatively you could use Campden Tablets on your brew day, or charcoal water filters that remove chlorine.
      • Be careful not to filter (strip) your water down completely, as there are many minerals in the water that are still needed for your beer to taste good. This is an advanced approach and will require you to add components back in.



On Brew Day:

  • Recipe – make sure it’s all there and ready to go
  • Brew Pot
    • I started brewing with a 25 gallon (100 qt) Aluminum Stock Pot (check it out here). I am now using a 13 gallon pot and save the 25 gallon for 10 gallon batches
      • You typical want something double the batch size (how much beer you want to end up with). Just be sure to adjust your boil-off rate (gph – gallons per hour) if you choose a large size.
      • You can get away with an 8 gallon pot (for 5 gallon batches), however be careful and watch for boil over.
      • Read up on Aluminum vs Stainless Steel – I haven’t come across any clear-cut choice, so I went with the economical aluminum.
  • Burner
    • Blichmann Floor Burner w/ 24″ Leg Extensions (check it out here)
      • There are several makers and price ranges. This one is at the top end of both I feel. Just make sure if you have a ‘large’ pot that the burner supports the weight.
      • For a standard 5 gallon batch, using a 10 gallon pot, any of the burners will work great. I can say that with the high pressure (small diameter) burner versus the full cast iron burner, there is less heated area.
  • Carboy/Fermentation Bucket
    • 6 gallon Carboy
      • I got mine rom MoreBeer.com a have 2 of these so I can keep the flow of brewing going.
  • Hydrometer/Refractometer
    • Dual-scale Hydrometer with Temperature Gauge
    • Dual-scale Refractometer with Auto Temperature Adjustment
      • These are used to test your Gravity during the brew process and just before pitching the yeast. Basically this is how you will tell % of alcohol your beer is and whether or not it is done fermenting.
  • Mash Paddle/Spoon
    • Homemade Maple Mash Paddle (check it out here)
      • For all-grain brewing you will need this to stir your grains into the water for mashing. In addition, and for non-all-grain brewing, you will need something you can stir your boil with
      • Some prefer stainless steel and there are plastic versions available, however I made one from hard maple (no stain or mineral oil), and it works very well. Plus it gives the process a better feel in the home-made sense.
      • If you plan to stir with it during cool-down, be sure it sits in the pot for the last 15 minutes of the boil – to sanitize.
  • Scale
      • This would make it easier to measure out your hops if they are not in even ounces.
      • Alternatively you could lay them out on a plate and just divide up however needed.
  • Wort Chiller
    • 50′ x 1/2″ Wort Chiller with soldiered hose connections
      • This is needed to cool the wort after the boil – the faster you cool, the better
      • For standard use, you could use a 25′ wort chiller. I needed the larger one for my pot size
      • You can also use this to slowly stir the wort as it cools (don’t create air bubbles until its below 80 degrees.
      • An alternative cooling method is to sit your bot in a larger container with water running on the outside. Ice would help here as well.
  • Misc:
    • Air-lock and bung – needed for the carboy or fermentation bucket to keep oxygen out, while still letting it breath to not build up too muc CO2 pressure.
    • Hop socks  – only if you want to minimize the left over hops in the wort. Otherwise you can cold-crash
    • Oven Mitts
    • Propane – unless using natural gas
    • Scissors
    • Thermometer – Instant Read
    • Whirlfloc – this helps with clarifying the beer
  • Most Important
    • A beer or two…to drink!
    • A significant other or a friend to enjoy the brew day with (check it out here)



After Brewing:

  • Fermentaion Chamber:
    • Haier 7 cu ft chest freezer (check it out here)
      • Bought from Costco for cheap. It holds 2 – 6 gallon carboys, with plenty room to play. It ‘almost’ can fit a keg as well, but not quite, unless you let it on it’s side
      • Use in conjunction with a temperature controller to keep your beer at the appropriate temp. Most Ales would be around 68 degrees for 2-3 weeks.
    • Ice Chest (check it out here)
      • This is an alternative to a freezer
  •  Temperature Controller

Bottling/Kegging:

  • coming soon

Drink Up:

  • coming soon
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