First All-Grain Brew!


The past month has been a very exciting one for me! I have upgraded to all-grain equipment, bought a couple of kegs and a kegerator with a tower and tap on it, kegged my first beer(actually it’s a hard apple cider that I made recently), and brewed my first all-grain batch of awesomeness!

Allow me to reminisce a bit and explain what’s changed.

I started with a basic equipment kit and prepackaged extract recipe kits from NorthernBrewer.com(awesome company with incredible customer service). Initially, I brewed a beer concentrate of about 2 1/2 to 3 gallons on my kitchen stove in a 20 quart stockpot(the keg pictured above has been fashioned into a brew kettle, aka keggle, and has a 15 1/2 gallon capacity!).

“Extract” brewing is perfect for beginners. It can be as basic as adding yeast to a completely pre-made wort(unfermented beer), or be as complex as the “Partial-Mash” technique. Either way, it typically involves the work of extracting the fermentable sugars from the grains done for you in the form of a concentrated malt syrup or dried malt. You boil the concentrate in water along with hops, pitch the yeast, ferment, then bottle.  I would recommend this method to anyone, but you are a bit limited in terms of variety of ingredients and control over the final product. The grains that were chosen for that malt extract syrup you are looking at are all that you get.

  “All-grain” brewing, on the other hand, includes the mashing of your own grains(extracting the sugars), sparging the grains(basically rinsing leftover sugars out), a process called “Vorlaufing”(which is just as much fun to do as it is to say),

 

and then continuing on with the same boiling, fermenting, and bottling as before. All-grain is more advanced and much more time-consuming but it’s what the pros do, and it’s what you get in your favorite bottle of local craft beer!

Now that I’ve effectively bored you to death with the brewing jargon, let me give you the goods. Here is what I came up with for my first all-grain recipe which is an Imperial India Pale Ale;

Maiden IIPA

Grain Bill;

11 lbs. Pale Malt 2-row

1 lb. Vienna Malt

1 lb. Carapils

1 lb. Caramel/Crystal 20L (L is for Lovibond, the measure of color you get from your grains)

Hops;

1 oz. Chinook (60 minutes)

1 oz. Chinook (20 minutes)

1/2 oz. Cascade (10 minutes)

1/2 oz. Cascade (5 minutes)

1 oz. Cascade (Dry Hop 7 days)

 Yeast and other;

1 Wyeast American Ale II yeast (with a 500 ml yeast starter for 24 hours)

1 tsp. Irish Moss (added 10 minutes from the end of the boil for clarity in the final beer)

Notes on the batch; The minutes next to each hop addition refer to the end of the boil. For example, I boiled this beer for 90 minutes, so I didn’t make my first hop addition until 30 minutes later, or 60 minutes from the end of the boil.

Dry-Hopping is simply adding hops directly to the carboy(vessel the beer is fermented in). Dry-hopping adds aroma without bitterness.

A yeast starter involves boiling 1/2 cup of Dried Malt Extract(DME) in water for 10 minutes and pitching the yeast into that to sit for 24 hours before you add it to your beer.

 

Well, that’s my first experience with all-grain brewing. The easy part is done. The hard part is waiting.

Whole Wheat White??

I started out baking white bread because the recipe is simple, tasty and the dough is very easy and satisfying to work with. From there I wanted to try whole wheat(to which I will refer to as WW from here on out). Most people start with a mixture somewhere around 60/40% of WW to all-purpose flour or bread flour and work their way up to 100%. This is because the dough rises much better and is easier to punch down, fold, and shape. By sheer luck my first 100% WW loaf turned out great but it took me a very long time and several attempts to duplicate that result. 100% WW bread tastes great and is good for you but it is a pain to work with! If you’ve never had the pleasure, give it a shot.

The reason I brought this up is because I recently saw this bag in the grocery store…20130124_175138

Whole wheat nutrition with white flour appeal? What!?? This was very exciting for me as someone who had so much trouble with whole wheat for so long, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The dough was WAY easier to work with, the finished bread was similar in texture to white(soft and airy), but it had all the raw, bready, and earthy flavor of 100% WW. I also made a 40% poolish that ripened(fermented) for 18 hours before mixing which really enhanced the flavor. A pre-ferment can help almost any style of bread develop amazing flavor.

First I will post the recipe then the pics below that.

100% Whole Wheat White

Poolish:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups water
  • pinch of yeast

Dough:

  • cups flour
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
  • pkg. + leftover yeast from the pinch (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise because you can easily mix it into the dry ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • Poolish

Allow 2 rise periods if you can and bake for 25-30 minutes in 400 degree F oven.  Here are the pics…

 

DSC_0125DSC_0141DSC_0150DSC_0154DSC_0169DSC_0172DSC_0171DSC_0174DSC_0177DSC_0184

I know it has been all bread so far, but fear not, brew day is coming! I am gathering ingredients now and will have plenty of pics from my next batch of beer. Maybe one day I’ll even go back and post some from my previous batches.

Enjoy the Whole Wheat White!

Let’s get started!

I have been brewing my own beer for about two years and baking my own bread for one. Over the past couple of years these two hobbies(obsessions?..Passions.) have all but consumed my thoughts. I am constantly planning my next batch or my next loaf. I definitely recommend everyone try them at least once but caution you at the same time…they are fun,tasty, and at times(depending on your ingredients) not-so-low calorie hobbies! 

A family member recently suggested that I start a blog. Before that point, I had used a few recipes from blogs but had never actively followed any. I didn’t(and still don’t) know much about them, so I guess we’ll see if that works out to anyone’s benefit.

I thought to myself, even though I don’t know much about blogging, I do love to write, I love to brew, I love to bake, and I love making mistakes. Ok, maybe I don’t love making mistakes, but they are inevitable and I do love the idea that someone else may benefit from mine!

One other thing that attracted me to blogging is the fact that I will be able to give credit where it is due. When I use a product or find an amazing recipe that tastes great  or makes things easier, I can talk about it here and let everyone know how awesome it is!

On that note, I would like to start my blog with a couple of pictures of my very first loaf of bread ever! It is a great tasting, easy recipe from the folks over at thesimpledollar.com. I’ll include the link for anyone who wants to read it. This is the one that got me started. Now go out there and start baking your first loaf! Enjoy!

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/11/04/homemade-bread-cheap-delicious-healthy-and-easier-than-you-think/

DSC_0075 1st Loaf!