Thursday, June 30, 2011

Give Me Head! Northwest Cascadian Dark Ale Step-by-Step w/ pics

Before I do anything, everything is sanitized and rinsed well.  There are a bunch of sanitizers out there that work great; I use simple and cheap Oxi-Clean.

In a large kettle, heat up about 2 gallons of water (I use fresh well water, if yours comes from the tap, you may want to check its quality because things like chlorine and such can throw off your beer) to 155 degrees.  Turn off the heat and let your grains soak.  Your grains can soak in a grain bag and treat it like a tea bag, letting the colors andn such seep through the grains. 

For this recipe, I had a full pound of grain: 1/4# De-bittered Black Malt, 1/2# Crystal 40L Malt, and 1/2# Flaked Oats. Soak the grains for 25 minutes.  After this time, remove the bag, let the water drip out, give it a squeeze, and throw your grains in the composter, or feed to your chickens.

Enjoy a beer while you're waiting.

Now add 1 gallon of water to that and bring to a boil. 

Once you have it to a boil, turn off the heat, and add your extract(s), stirring as you do to make sure it dissolves well. I had 7 pounds of Munich extract and 1 1/2 pounds of Dark 2 Candi Syrup.

Heat it back to a boil.  Lots of sugars in this wort(beer mixture) and once it reaches boil, can boil over very easily or burn so watch it carefully (my gas burners are not very strong and I can keep them on high the entire time).  Once you reach a roiling boil, adjust your heat to maintain, and set your timer for 60 minutes.
The hops are added at different times of the boil, to accomplish different things in your beer.  The hops you use will depend on the recipe or your preference.  Generally, bittering hops are added at the beginning of your boil (when it comes to a boil and you start your time).
I used 2oz of Columbus hops for the bittering.
At 15 minutes left (of your 60, so 45 minutes in) the flavoring hops are added.  I used 1oz of Citra.
Lastly comes the aroma hops at 5 minutes left to your boil.  I used 1oz of Centennial.

Once the 60 minutes of boiling is over, our goal is to cool this wort down to 80 degrees as fast as possible.  There are tools (wort chillers, presses) for this but I fill up my sink with cool water (if your tap water isn't very cool, add ice), and let my pot sit in the water, draining and replacing the water about 3 times.
Once you get it to 80 degrees, its time to throw this mixture into a sanitized bucket, add water to make 5 gallons, seal, and place your bubbler in the bung hole (a bubbler is a small device that lets gases out but no air in, preserving that sterile environment.

Save a little to take a gravity reading (and taste!)  was delicious already!!
After about a week, the yeast activity should slow down (no more bubbling of the bubbler) and its time to transfer this mixture into a glass carboy for another week of clarifying. This is what was left in the bottom of the bucket by the yeast.  Great yeast activity!

Let it sit for another week of so.
Than its time to bottle.  Will add the next section once I reach that point!  Gonna be a good brew!!!

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