We are all about learning through doing.   As we find new things, we will post them here.

Some of Our Favorite BrewingVideos

Antenna Bayern - Music Video: Bayernhyme

Local Bavarian radio station gives this classic a new voice.

Antenna Bayern Channel                          Full Bayernhymne

Bobbe Kabarett - Music Video: do bine dahoam

Local Bavarian comedian Bobbe rebrands a classic tune and gives it a uniquely Bavarian feel.  Bobbe Kabarett

General Knowledge - A Brief History of Bavaria

Bavaria has been a unique political and cultural entity for centuries.   Here is a very brief history hitting the highlights.

Easy German - Bavarian vs Standard German

People often say that Bavarian and German are the same.  Not true.  Take a quick listen and see for yourself.

Writing Bavarian is even stranger.  Easy German Channel

Antenna Bayern - Bayern: Welcome home

Local Bavarian radio station gives us an infomercial.

Antenna Bayern Channel               More: Bayern from above

Homebrewing:  the ABCs

Part 1: The Basics - What You Need to Know

We want to keep this simple, after all, it is just beer.   Lots of other brewers may try to make it complex, but people have been brewing beer for thousands of years.   They didn't have all sorts of fancy equipment and wild ingredients then and you can make beer without them now.

1 - You don't need to buy tons of expensive fancy equipment.   A sturdy 40-quart stovetop pot that can handle prolonged boiling temperatures is good.  Two food-grade 7-gallon plastic buckets are sufficient.   Glass bottles (tinted) will work.    You can usually pick up a kit with the other items from a brewery supply store for <$200 including ingredients for your first batch.​

2 - You don't need all sorts of fancy chemistry.   You should check the quality of your water or if in doubt, use filtered water.

3 - You don't need to know all sorts of fancy terms, keep it simple.

4 - You don't need lots of space, just enough room for one 7-gallon bucket, think like a Home Depot bucket, but filled with your next or first beer.

Beer is in reality, a solution.   That has many different meanings but chemically, a solution is a homogenous mixture of two or more substances in relative amounts that can be varied continuously up to what is called the limit of solubility.

Creating this solution requires soluble ingredients (water, malt, hops, and yeast); a process of combination (brewing); and a final soluble state (beer in your glass).   Like we said, keep it simple.

 

Here are the basic terms that will help you "speak brewing:"

Mash - this is a sweet, grain-scented liquid, created by combining water and malt/grains and subjecting the grains to "washing" and "steeping" in hot water in order to "wash" essential sugars off the grain and suspend the sugars in the liquid solution.  These sugars will nourish the yeast during the later fermentation process.   Without these sugars, the yeast have nothing to convert to alcohol, so the mash is critical or it's not beer.

 

Achieving this sugar-enriched solution (mash) can be accomplished using a "partial mash" process, which then needs "extract" added to increase the sugar volume (called "extract brewing"), or through a "full mash" process, also called "all-grain brewing," which subjects the grains to a more "rigorous washing."

Boil - this is when you take the mash and heat it to the boiling point, that process and the resulting boiling liquid are called "the boil."   You can boil all 7 gallons of mash ("full-boil") or you can boil 3-4 gallons of mash ("partial boil") and then add the required water later to dilute the concentrated wort prior to adding the yeast.

Wort - this is a sweet, grain and hops-scented solution created when you take the boiled mash (aka "the boil") and add hops

 

The type of hop(s) and when you introduce the hops into the wort is a big factor in determining the bitterness and aroma of the beer.   Change them and the timing and you change the beer.

**The differentiation between wort and beer is a key factor for the California Alcohol and Beverage Control department.

Fermentation - this is what makes the sugary, grainy, hoppy wort into beer through the introduction of yeast to the cooled wort.   Do not add yeast to hot or warm wort, you will kill the yeast, which then will "skunk" your beer.  The yeast consumes the sugars from the wort (originally the mash) and produce alcohol and CO2 (aka fermentation).

Beer - this is the post-fermentation solution (aka beer) that contains the combined elements of the mash (grains/water) and the wort (mash plus hops) and has been fermented (wort with yeast).  The beer at this point will taste like beer and have many of the components of beer but will be flat.

**California Alcohol and Beverage Control department considers any solution that has had yeast added to it to be a fermented liquid and therefore alcoholic.

Carbonation - this is the introduction of additional C02, beyond what the yeast produced during fermentation, to the post-fermentation solution (aka beer).   There are many ways to achieve carbonation.   We cover the primary options in our classes.

Bottling - or Kegging allows the final fermented and carbonated beer the opportunity to "rest" for a bit and provides an easy means to transport and serve the beer you have made.   

Do not underestimate the importance of "resting" the beer to achieve a mature, smooth taste.

Note:  If you are interested in branding your brews, we have an in-club artist who has designed all the club marketing and marketing for several of our curated homebrewers.  We can help.

Sanitation - sanitation is a key factor throughout the entire brewing process.  Professional Brewers Wash (PBW) and StarSan are key.   The introduction of unwanted contaminants through the use of unsanitary brewing equipment or methods is the single largest cause for bad or foul beer.

Part 2: Homebrewing Process - What You Need to Do

Being able to follow a recipe, tell time, and boil water are the most basic requirements of the brewing process.   If you add patience, your final beer will only get better.   Remember, keep this all simple.

Note:  Everything you do in this column can be done with basic home cooking equipment.  The only exception is the Hydrometer in the last step.

Wash/Clean the Boil Kettle - the boil kettle is a large (40-quart) pot capable of maintaining a sustained boil for more than 3 hours.   You should wash and prepare it like any other cooking pot.

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Wash/Clean the Boil Thermometer - the boil thermometer is needed for the mash and cooling the boil.  A standard cooking thermometer works.

Read the recipe (really!!) - the recipe is key and provides specific timings for the boil and the addition of hops that determine the taste of the beer.  Take a minute to read it. Keep records of your brew so you can repeat it.

Add Cold Water to Boil Kettle - based on your choice of a "partial-mash" or a "full-mash," add the required amount of cold water. 

Partial Mash - Add Malt/Grains - add malt/grains to a grain bag and add to the cool water in the boil kettle.  

 

Partial Mash - Creating the Mash (30 minutes) - on medium heat, bring the water with the grains up to 170F in 30 minutes.  

Note:  If it takes 35 minutes to get to 170F or it gets to 175F, that is not a problem.   The mash is very "forgiving."   The sugars will not "wash off" until 168F is reached.  But, if it heats too long, it becomes like mush.

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Remove Grains from Mash - remove the grains from the mash.   There are many uses for these spent grains.    

Add Additional Sugars and/or Extract(s) to Mash - a "partial mash" does not have the same volume of sugars as a "full mash" by design.   So, you need to add more sugars so the yeast have food. When adding additional sugars or extracts to mash, be sure to stir well so the sugars are dissolved into the mash liquid.    

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Bring the Mash to a Boil (45-60+ minutes) - increase the heat to bring the mash to a boil.  We usually set the heat to 214F, which is just below the flashpoint.  Once it reaches that, bring it up 5F at a time to avoid a "boil over," which is very dangerous and messy/sticky/not fun to clean up. 

 

Once you get things to a roiling boil, you are ready to make the wort

Recommendation: While you are bringing the mash to a boil, take this time to a) review your recipe; b) layout your hops in order; and c) clean/sterilize the fermenter.

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Add hops at timed intervals (60 minutes) - adding the right hops at the right time is critical to producing the desired beer.   Know your hops order and timing.

Most Boils will last only 60 minutes from the time the first hops are added.

 

Hops come in many different varietals.  They have two purposes:  bitterness and aroma.   

 

Bitterness hops are added from 0-45 minutes into the boil. 

Aroma hops are added in the last 0-4 minutes of the boil. 

Be careful not to confuse these.

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Add Clarifier Tab (at 55 minutes) - drop the tab into the boil

End the Boil ("Flame Out") (at 60 minutes) - remove any hops and turn off the boil.   You now have wort.

 

Note:  Any point after this, sanitation is critical since the boil killed off any potential contaminants.

Chill the Wort to the prescribed temperature for the yeast) - there are many ways to chill your wort:  wort chiller and immersion are the most common.

Take your Original Gravity (OG) Reading (if you want to know ABV% later) - take a small sample of wort and measure it in the hydrometer and record the reading.  This will tell you the "density" of sugar in your wort vs volume of liquid.  

Part 3: Fermenting and Finishing - What You Do with Your Beer

At this point, you are about to make beer.   This part requires a few pieces of specific equipment.   

Note:  Anything covered in this column or specific to beer falls into the Alcoholic Beverage Control department "twilight zone."   We cover that in more detail below.

Clean/Sanitize the Fermenter - the boil kettle is a large (40-quart) pot capable of maintaining a sustained boil for more than 3 hours.   You should wash and prepare it like any other cooking pot.

1

Wash/Clean the Boil Thermometer - the boil thermometer is needed for the mash and cooling the boil.  A standard cooking thermometer works.

Read the recipe (really!!) - the recipe is key and provides specific timings for the boil and the addition of hops that determine the taste of the beer.  Take a minute to read it. Keep records of your brew so you can repeat it.

"Oh geez, this is a lot!!"   Feeling a little overwhelmed by this page, don't be.   We're here to help.  Take one of our homebrewing classes.   We will walk you through things and you will realize how simple this is and agree with us..."it's just beer, that's simple."

Homebrewing:  the  other ABCs (Alcoholic Beverage Control)