Rainbow Ale Brewing Process

Team Rainbow Ale checking in here.  Our team includes Anthony, Michael, Kara and me, Scott.  We are making honey brown ale.  Michael chose this based on the description.  “Honey Brown is a full bodied American brown ale…”.  Mike thought it was perfect, since there are two full bodied American brown people on the team (Anthony and Scott, pictured center below).

Team Picture

Before we brewed, we went to Austin Home Brew to get the supplies, and learn the process. Check out the video Mike put together of that experience:

So, we brewed our beer last night, and that was an adventure, and I mean that in a good way.  Austin Home Brew sent us home with all of the supplies we would need to make the perfect Honey Brown.

Brewing Ingredients

As the video explains, first we get the water up to 155 degrees.  We just settled for boiling, and let it cool from there.  Then, we added the malt, which smelled of honey and chocolate.  Luckily, we had something to put it in, because I was thinking we were going to use an old stocking (yeah, pretty gross, but you do what you gotta do).  We let that soak for 25 minutes, dipping it like a tea bag every so often.  After that was done, we added what looked and tasted and smelled like molasses (not sure of the technical term, but I called it the tasty goodness).  We got that to a rolling boil, and then the fun began!  TIME TO ADD THE HOPS!!  The hops had a sweet, slightly fruity smell to them, and look like rabbit pellets.  So, we took half the hops, and added them in the beginning for bitterness.

This is when we ate dinner, thanks to Kara’s husband Justin.  He grilled hamburgers (AMAZING) and hot dogs (even fat free, for us full bodied American browns).

The Grill

After 45 minutes, we added half of what was left for flavoring.  10 minutes later, it was time to add the rest for aroma.

Now, the fun began.  The instructions were very specific about getting this brew to 80 degrees within 20 minutes.  So, we created an ice bath in the sink, and took the mixture (keep in mind, it was boiling) and put it in there.  And, we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  But, we forgot to set a timer, so it was unclear when 20 minutes were up.  I used the baseball game (Game 6 of the World Series) as a timer.  I figured 2 complete innings would be about 20 minutes.  It took almost that entire time to get it down to 80.

Cool Down

Then, we transferred the brew into the fermenting bucket and added 3 gallons of water.  After thoroughly mixing it, we tested the density, made sure it was correct, and put the lid on.  Now, putting on the lid proved to be a little more difficult than we initially realized.  I literally had to kneel completely on it to close the lid.  We thought we were all done, but WAIT!  Forgot to add the yeast (you know, that makes the alcohol, pretty important).  So, it was getting the lid off, another adventure, and then pouring the yeast in.  Now, in the brewing class, we learned that we are to sprinkle it evenly across the top.  But, yeah, that didn’t happen.  We just kind of put it in there.  We’ll see how that turns out…  The lid went back on (much easier this time), put the stopper and a little contraption that could be mistaken for a crack pipe into the stopper to allow the CO2 to escape.  And, voila!  Now, we are just letting it sit and ferment.  In two weeks, we will begin the bottling process.  SUPER GEEKED!!  So, that was our brewing adventure. Remember, when you are in the mood for a full bodied American brown ale, think….

Rainbow Ale LogoRelated Posts: Company Homebrew CompetitionTeam Rainbow Ale Introduction

Brew Ha Ha’s Brewing Process

Once we learned the basics at Austin Homebrew, it was time to do it ourselves. As previously stated, we chose the Imperial stout recipe. The brewing process was fairly simple and foolproof, from start to finish. The recipe was straightforward and step-by-step, allowing for an easy night of brewing. All the equipment was labeled and documented in a little pamphlet provided by AHB. The first step was to sterilize the stock pot, thermometer, and gigantic spoon. We visually inspected the equipment before sterilizing, but found no dirt or grime to clean. Earlier in the day, I took the hops and yeast out of the refrigerator to let them warm up.

Next it was time to bring the water 155˚F and then steep the grains. We added the grains to the boiling bag and let it sit in the water, periodically moving the bag up and down to really let the grains move through the water. We did this for about 26 minutes, and halfway through the aroma really began to waft through the kitchen.

Following the steeping process, we let the boiling bag drain excess water into the pot and then tossed the grains. The formerly clear water was now a dark black, so we were headed in the right direction. We added in some more water and began to bring the pot to a boil. With such a large amount of water it took about 30 minutes to bring to a full boil. Once it was at a continuous boil we added in the malt, which brought with it an overpowering, concentrated smell. The smell permeated through the entire house and it was almost enough to make one feel a little nauseous. Opening the kitchen window brought only a little relief. We let that sit for about 45-60 minutes, occasionally stirring so the syrup didn’t burn to the pot.

Once the malt was sufficiently dissolved and cooked, it was time to add the hops editions. The recipe only called for one packet of Chinook hops, scheduled to cook for 60 minutes, however a packet of Kent Golding hops had found its way into the ingredients bag. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I called Austin Home Brew and they advised that it would be okay to just throw the unscheduled hops into the mix at about 5 minutes left in the scheduled hops cooking time. That was good enough for me and I did just that.

Next was the hardest part of the entire process – bringing the wort down to 80˚F in 20 minutes. We set up an ice bath in the sink and placed the pot inside. The ice would melt pretty quickly so we would constantly drain the water, add more ice, and repeat until the wort was cooled. Unfortunately, it took a little longer than 20 minutes so hopefully that doesn’t affect the end result too much.  While the hops were cooking we had sanitized the fermenting bucket. It was time to dump the wort and add the yeast. After adding the wort and water to bring the brew to the necessary 5 ¼ gallon level, I stirred vigorously to allow it to breath and then added the yeast. I placed the lid on the bucket to close it up and, after adding sanitizer, placed the air lock in its designated hole.

It only took about an hour for the CO2 to start making bubbles in the air lock, which was a comforting sight. Hopefully the rest of the process is as easy as the brewing portion. We will update you once we begin the secondary stage.

Check out our video of the process:

Related Posts: Company Homebrew Competition, Brew Ha Ha’s: Austin Home Brew Class #1

Brew Ha Ha’s: Austin Home Brew Class #1

When I arrived at Austin Home Brew, I realized that their set up was much larger than I expected. They have a great facility complete with retail and shipping operations. They appeared to be very transparent, giving you a view of the grain room and how they work inside it. The sales floor has everything under the sun related to home brewing, and we spent several minutes browsing the equipment, ingredients, etc.

                             

Once the initial awe wore off it was time to get started. The first step was to pick a recipe, and it was a little daunting looking through their recipe book because there were literally hundreds and hundreds of recipes and clones to choose from. A clone is a recipe that matches a specific name brand; if you have a favorite beer the chances are extremely good that they have a clone recipe for it. One of the experts, Christian, explained to me that the cost of the recipe kit goes up by ABV %. I finally landed on the Imperial Stout recipe and they gathered up the materials.

The next step was to learn how to brew. JB took us to the back of the building where the shipping bays were, and where he had bag of grain already steeping in a stockpot sitting on a propane cooker. He explained the process of steeping the grains like a tea bag, moving it up and down. Next was removing the grain bag and to bring the brew to a boil and then to add the malt. The malt was almost like caramel – very thick and sticky – and it was important to get it all in there while stirring vigorously to help it dissolve.

Once again, JB brought the brew to a boil and it was time to put in the hops additions to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor. At this point it was just a matter of waiting to add in hops as the recipe called for it, in this case every 30 minutes or so. While we were waiting JB set up a cold bath to quickly bring the brew down to 80°F. From there he poured the contents of the stockpot into the primary fermentation bucket, added the yeast, and locked up the bucket with an airlock to let the CO2 out and keep oxygen from getting in.

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The class was very informative and allowed for socializing with my fellow Living Directors and I look forward to the second part of class.

Video Clips from the Home Brew Class:

Related Post: Company Homebrew Competition

Homebrew Competition

In an effort to learn (even) more about our products and customers, Kegerator.com employees will be attending two “How to Brew Beer” classes hosted by Austin Homebrew Supply in the next few weeks. But since we are a competitive bunch, we just had to turn this learning experience into a contest. So we will also be hosting our first Employee Brewing Contest!

Here is how it works:

  1. Interested employees have been placed in teams of 4-5 people. We have four teams.
  2. Choose what type of beer the team wants to brew.
  3. Team members will attend the first “How to Brew Beer” class.
  4. Teams get together to start brewing within one week of the first class.
  5. Team members will attend the second “How to Brew Beer” class.
  6. Teams complete phase 2 of beer brewing within one week of the second class.
  7. Beer must be ready for tasting by Monday, December 5, and the winners will be announced at our holiday party on Friday, December 9.

Lucky for us, the company will be supplying all of the equipment and ingredients necessary to brew our beer. Aside from attending the classes and actually brewing the beers, the teams are also tasked with documenting the entire experience, so expect to see lots of pictures, videos and posts in the coming weeks updating you on how the competition is going so far. May the best team win!