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generosity of "Captain Mike" Orloski
The burner should be set up on a level surface preferably concrete like the slab at the base of the deck
stairs or on the patio. Be careful to avoid combustibles since the burner produces huge quantities of heat.
Grass nearby could also be damaged. All the boiling will be down there and the transferring on the deck.
Refer to the recipe pages and choose one to brew. Gather the ingredients together and prepare your
For a 5 gal. batch start by putting 6 ½ Gals. of water in your boiling kettle and bring to a boil. Keeping the
kettle covered will help the water come to a boil faster. Then shut off the gas ,remove kettle and stir in the
extract until well dissolved. Avoid aeration. Scrape out the remaining extract in the plastic pouch or can or
you can ladle in some of the hot wort and swish it around and dump it back into the kettle. This way you are
getting all the malt. Bring the wort to a boil, stir gently to prevent burning on the bottom. I use a remote
thermometer to monitor the temp to avoid a boil over which results in a mess. Otherwise keep an eye on the
wort and once it starts to boil you might need to lower the heat to prevent a boil over. As it boils add the hops
according to the schedule in the recipe. An example : @ 5 min. meaning 5 min. after start of the boil. It
could be up to three additions depending on the style. Whenever adding hops be careful since a lot of foam
will be produced which can cause a mess. Sprinkle the hops into the kettle as you are stirring to evenly
Boiling the wort for one hour is needed for several reasons and I’ll give you some basics. Also, all the boiling
should be done without a lid to vent off some unwanted chemicals. Boiling sterilizes the wort so any
organisms present are killed and the wort becomes sterile. It also helps to break down proteins that create a
head on beer, dissolves hop oils into the wort, causes the ingredients to thoroughly combine and a whole lot
of other biochemical reactions to take place. Let’s just say we need a good rolling boil for an hour or so.
The addition of Irish Moss to help clarify the wort is sometimes recommended in some recipes. While the
wort is boiling we can get ready for the next few steps. Warning! Burners and Hot Kettles Can Be
Wort should be cooled as quickly as possible to its fermentation temperature. This is mainly to prevent a
time lag period where microorganisms can enter the purified wort and contaminate it since we only want to
“contaminate” it with our yeast starter. A large sink or vat can be used as an ice bath but this requires a lot
of ice and a long waiting period, usually about 2 ½ Hrs. The preferred way is to use an immersion cooler to
lower the temp. as quickly as possible. The clean copper coil is placed in the brew kettle 5 min. before the
end of the boil to assure sterility and when the gas is shut off put in the clean floating thermometer, or
remote if you have one. Whichever method is used, keep the kettle covered with the lid and you may need
some foil over the top if the immersion cooler is used. The idea is to keep out any wild yeast, bugs, dust
breathing and talking into the cooling wort. An outdoor ice water bath vat can be made from a 55 gal. drum
that was cut in half. Often heating and cooling outfits have empty drums that contained propylene glycol, a
non-toxic antifreeze, that is easily rinsed out. Avoid any drum that had any hazardous material in it. A
boiler drain valve should be cut into the bottom to help drain the water. As the wort is transferred from the
kettle it will lighten in weight and will float in the bath so be sure to drain the water once the wort
temperature reaches it’s mark. You could siphon the bath water out if no drain is made. Our main concern
here is the safe transfer of wort from the kettle to the fermenter. If you are familiar with pumps maybe you
could make a setup to cool and pump wort. We are going to use a simple siphon system; it works and can
easily be applied.
Differences in height are needed for a good siphon action. Place the vat on the deck next to where the
fermenter will be set on the ground, around 4-5 feet drop. The vat is filled with the proper amount of water
for the size kettle used. If using an ice bath remember to have water in the vat and add the ice once the
kettle is in it and had water circulated a while to conserve on ice. 32-Qt stockpots can be handled by one
person but a 15 gal. keg requires two strong people. At the end of the boil, shut off the gas and put kettle
in the water vat. Be very careful!! The vat water will bubble. Hook up the hoses to the immersion cooler and
start water flow.
|Racking to the fermenter
Have all your tubing soaking in cleaner as you are working today since it will ensure cleanliness. Use a paper
towel in the solution to scrub the outside of the racking cane and tubing. I devised a simple technique for
racking that will always have sanitized tubing in contact with your wort at all phases of transferring.
Remember that it is very important to maintain sanitation so no foreign microbes enter and spoil your beer.
Begin by removing the tubing from the B-Brite solution pail, immersing your hands in the cleaning solution will
also clean them. Attach the racking cane on about 5-6 feet of tubing with the clamp about 6 inches from the
hook end. Test opening and closing the clamp for practice and to see if it’s positioned correctly. Rinse setup
and hands with water. Use of a Siphontap to rack is preferred, otherwise fill the connected cane and tubing
with clean water and holding in an upside down U set the clamp to close. Now put the cane end into the jug
containing the Star San Solution (SSS). Drop the tubing end down below the jug level and with the other
hand open the clamp to siphon out some of the SSS. Since you are outdoors just let it flow to the ground. No
problem with the boss. Once the whole setup is full of SSS clamp shut. Have your partner clean and sterilize
their hands and pour some SSS onto your hands. Hey Bro you ready? OK stick the racking cane end into
the cooled wort above the sediment. Cooling caused about 3” of sediment, or trub to “cold break” and layer
the bottom. Position your partner down below and direct the other end just outside of a clean and sterile
carboy. The carboy was previously cleaned and rinsed and had SSS in it until the last minute. Just don’t
forget to dump it out. Oops! As you open the clamp he will see the SSS come out first then the beer since it
has color. He then directs it into the carboy. Hey, so we’re a little sloppy, that’s why were
outside. It’s OK if the wort gets aerated at this point, and it’s going to foam while transferring. This is the time
to get a specific gravity, so fill the tube with a hydrometer in it and take a reading. Discard the sample wort.
This is called the original gravity. It takes a lot of beer to make beer and sometimes we let things slide and
later forget, so record the S.G. Now. Avoid racking in direct sunlight!
Care is taken to siphon mostly the clear liquid and not the settled cold break. I do allow some of the
sediment, mostly toward the end, since it is unavoidable and actually has certain nutrients that can be utilized
by the hungry yeast. Using all the sediment would give the yeast the option of feeding on that instead of the
available Oxygen and creating off-flavors.
As we rack the wort I’m adding the yeast starter to get the yeast into the sterile wort as soon as possible so it
can get acclimated and begin to go to work and prevent a lag period where foreign microbes can take over
and ruin the flavor. The yeast have a big job ahead and initially require a large supply of Oxygen. For that I’
m going to inject pure Oxygen into the wort and shake to aerate.
This process could also be accomplished by setting up a new aquarium pump with tubing and an aeration
stone. This is the only time when aerating is good for wort and in fact is a necessary step for healthy yeast
production. After the Oxygen is taken up by the yeast the fermentation will take place in an anaerobic
environment where Carbon Dioxide, alcohol and a slurry of other chemicals are produced. If not using
oxygen the carboy must be shaken quite thoroughly to aerate it well enough to get the yeast going quickly,
usually a good 10-15 min.
When finished cap with the three-piece airlock filled with 1 inch of vodka.
Count on spending about 4-5 hours from start to final cleanup.
Now it is time to put the carboy in a controlled environment where temperature is constant and light
excluded. As I said for an ale the temp. should be kept at 60-72 F and lagers at 50-60 F. All beer should
be protected from light and if you ever had “skunky” beer you’ll know why. I cover the fermenter with paper
bags and keep it in a closet away from variable temp changes and light sources. Keep a record of all you did
today and of the temp in you fermentation area regularly throughout the next few weeks this way you can
compare your results to future batches.
Brewers refer to fermentation in terms of primary and secondary. In the 6 ½ Gal. carboy the initial “roiling”
fermentation is called primary. After about 7 days the activity dies down, the foam recedes and racking to a
clean 5 Gal. carboy removes the beer from the sediment. If possible purge the clean and sanitized carboy
with CO 2 to remove the possibility of aerating the beer.
You can tell primary fermentation has started by the bubbling and foam production that can be very vigorous
depending on the yeast being used. At times the foaming can be too much for the vessel you are using so
you will have to hook up a blow off tube. Sterilize a one-hole stopper and insert a short length of plastic
tubing like that of the racking cane. Attach some flexible tubing to it, remove the airlock that is foam clogged
and pop the new setup on the carboy. Put the end in a jug that has a few inches of SSS to prevent
contamination. As things die down remove the blow off setup and recap with a clean airlock with vodka.
Secondary fermentation is now beginning.
Fermentation times vary with the style of brew you are making, ales usually are complete in 2-3 weeks and
lagers a few extra weeks past that. A good way to tell if the brew is finished is by measuring the specific
gravity. Transfer a sample with a clean and sterile pipette from the fermenter to your hydrometer. Most
yeast will attenuate (completed fermentation) at around 75% so if you started with a S.G. of 42 your final S.G.
will be around 11. A higher gravity results in a sweeter more robust brew that is usually indicated in a
particular style. Note that S.G. is measured as 1.000 being water and beer usually from 1.035 to 1.070 and
for simplicity sake when referring to S.G. we drop the 1.0 and leave the last two digits. 1.045 g/cc as S.G. 45
|More about fermentation 13
I have found that fermentation is usually complete when the air lock pops once per minute or longer. From
this point on many complex processes are occurring. Diacetyls (buttery flavors) are being reduced by the
yeast. Remember temperature control is always critical and should remain as constant as possible except
in recipes where temperature reduction is needed to lager or age the brew. If kept in the low 60 range this
ale will continue to age and clear.
One concern is yeast autolysis where yeast die off in large numbers consuming themselves and creating a
sulfur odor. This is the result of storing beer at high temperatures for extended periods of time. The beer is
considered spoiled and of no value.
When all goes well with fermentation, time and temps are maintained the yeast go into a dormant state and
very few remain active. These last few struggle to feed on whatever fermentable sugars are left and reduce
the S.G. slightly as their comrades fall out of solution and settle to the bottom of the fermentation vessel.
Other activities in the vessel include the settling out of unwanted proteins, tannins and polypeptides etc.
Through experience you will get to recognize the various aspects that are beneficial and those that are
|Beginner Brewing Tips
and Secrets Revealed!
By Michael Orloski