Sake Gumi


Now that you have gathered all of the equipment and ingredients needed, as described in the first post, you are ready to make your beer. You should plan on starting on a day that you have at least 3-4 hours of free time. You want to be able to relax, take your time, drink a few beers, and enjoy the smells and sounds of the process.

One of the things I love most about making beer, is you get to touch and smell the ingredients throughout the process. One of the most satisfying feelings is that in the end you will be able to recognize all of these ingredients in the final product. It’s really amazing because before I brewed my first batch of beer, I could never smell and taste the different ingredients as I can now whether I order a beer out, or am drinking one of my own. It honestly elevated my entire beer drinking experience, so I highly recommend you trying it out at least one time.

Step 1 – Partial Mash (Steeping Grains)
As I mentioned in the first post, this step can be skipped if you are brewing a beer with all malt extract and no grains. Most beginner kits use all malt extract, at least from what I have seen, and they still make good beer. However, you will see that the process of the partial mash is not very difficult and will add great flavor and complexity to the finished beer.

1.) Fill your large pot with about 3 gallons of filtered or bottled water.
2.) Heat the water to somewhere between 140 and 165 degrees.

3.) Put your grains into a cheese cloth grain bag and when the water reaches the desired temperature, turn off the heat, put your grains into the pot, slap the lid on, and leave it alone for 35-45 minutes or as specified in your recipe.

4.)When the time is up, take off the lid, and slowly dip the bag in and out of the pot about 10 times, then throw your grains away. Now you have a grain tea. Do not ring or squeeze out the grain bag as, this will release tannins into your beer which will give it a nasty astringent flavor.

Step 2 – The Boil (Wart)
The next part (or first part if you are only using malt extract) is boiling the malt and hops which is called a wart.

1) Heat up your pot until just before boiling and shut off the heat.
2) Add your malt extract and first addition of hops as specified from your recipe. Malt extract can be dry or liquid (the liquid seems to taste better to me). As you will see, hops are added throughout the boil at different times. A typical beer is boiled for 60 minutes. Hops added during the beginning of the process are called bittering hops because they add bitterness to the beer. Hops added toward the end of the boil (last 15 min) are finishing hops and add aroma to the beer.

Adding liquid malt extract

Simcoe Hops (60 min. start of the boil)

3.) Now fire up your pot on super high heat to a rolling boil. It is very important to reach a rolling boil in order to release oils from your hops and coagulate unwanted proteins. You can see in the pictures that I use a separate higher BTU burner to make beer instead of my stove top. This is not to say you can not use your stovetop, but if you have crappy weak burners like me, I would suggest a separate and more powerful heating unit.

NOTE: Keep your eye on the WART at all times to prevent boil overs.

4.) Boil for a full 60 minutes while adding hops as described on your recipe sheet. For my IPA, I am adding 3 types of hops at 4 different time increments. This is the recipe I followed:
- 1 oz Simcoe Hops 60 min. (start of the boil)
- 1 oz Amarillo Hops 30 min. + clearing agent (halfway)
- 0.5 oz Cascade Hops 15 min. (Finishing hops)
- 0.5 oz Cascade Hops 5 min. (Finishing hops)

The Wart at full boil

Amarillo Hops (30 min)

Clearing Agent (30 min)

Cascade Hops (finishing 1/2 Oz at 15 and 5 min)

5.) When the 60 minutes is up turn off the heat, put the lid on, and put your pot in an ice bath to cool for about 45 minutes. NOTE: This is the point where you need to start being sanitary. Your wart was boiled which killed everything harmful in it and you want to keep it that way. Keep the lid on and do not fuss with it too much.

Step 3 - Moving to the Primary Firmentor and Pitching Yeast
1.) Sanitize your primary fermentation vessel, lid, and airlock. You can do this by using some bleach mixed with water and then rinse it out or by using a sanitizing solution which does not require rinsing. The majority of problems in making beer come from not being sanitary. Since you are creating the ideal environment for nasty bacteria to grow you need to be obsessively clean or you may end up with some gross flavors.

2.) Fill your Primary Fermentor with 2 and ½ gallons of cool filtered or bottled water.

3.) Pour 1/3 of your wart into the Fermentor with the water.

4.) Pitch the yeast. I am using liquid yeast that is pitchable. I find it is easier and makes better beer then dry yeast. If you are using dry yeast you can follow the instructions to activate before you pitch it into the wart. If you are using a pitchable liquid variety like I am, all you need to do is take it out of the fridge when you start your wart, then shake it up and dump it into the fermentor when ready.

White Labs Pitchable California Ale Yeast

Pitching Yeast

5.) Vigorously pour the remaining contents of the wart into the Fermenting Vessel. It is important to do this in order to aerate the wart and mix the yeast without having to stir or shake.

Rest of the wart

WOOOOT! Your beer will start to ferment over the next 15 hours or so and will be ready to move to the secondary fermentation vessel in 5-6 days. In the next post I will cover fermentation, calculating specific gravity and alcohol content using a hydrometer, and moving to your secondary fermentation vessel.