Sunday, December 9, 2012


I received a giant package over the summer. It was a Northern Brewer Essential Brewing Starter Kit with ingredients for their Irish Red Ale, a wedding reception gift from my bros in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately with my gate guard rotation I didn't get around to brewing until September 7th. Even that was impulsive; I thought I had plenty of time before my overnight shift began, but it ended up being uncomfortably close. First time mistakes and uncertainties were probably normal, though. Adding the initial hops before reaching a boil, not having a plan in place to chill my wort, not having enough bottles. I'm just glad my yeast didn't die in the Texas summer. I got around to bottling on the 14th of October. A bit later than instructed, but it turned out well.

November 16th was my second brew day. This was Brewer's Best Scottish Ale kit shipped from Fine Vine Wines. I was a little insulted that they pre-measured the priming sugar, but happy to see enough bottle caps to put the whole 5 gallon batch in 12oz bottles. This time I took more comprehensive notes.

 1540 300oz tap water in kettle
1555 Grains added 151 F

1616 Grains removed 206 F
1618 Put lid on Wort. Began sanitization.
1620 DME added. Heat reduced.

1622 LME added. Heat returned to High.

1630 Small boil-over. Continuing uncovered. 0.5oz Cascade Hops added.
1636 Cover replaced - weak boil while uncovered.
1710 0.5oz Cascade Hops added.
1725 1 cup grade A dark amber maple syrup added to boil.
1730 Removed kettle from heat, uncovered.
1740 Moved kettle to cool water bath. 156 F

1745 134 F. Moved water around.
1750 108 F.
1755 100 F.
1800 Discovered that temp varies widely. Bottom and sides low 80s, middle and surface still around 100 F.
1840 82 F.
1920 77 F.
1930 Siphoned cooled wort into fermenting bucket. Added water to bring it up to 5 gallons.

1940 Added yeast and aerated.

9 December I bottled. I used a dozen 22oz bottles and 2 dozen regular bottles. Everything went much smoother this time and I still have plenty of extra bottles. Some of them would still need to have the labels removed, but it's better than running short and having to resort to growlers. We'll be taking as much as we can back north.