This week I got the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do for years: homebrew. That’s right, ladies and gents, I made beer! With a lot of help from my friend Brad Moyer, I successfully created what will become a french toast stout, and I learned a lot of things about the process I didn’t know.
The recipe we followed was intended to create a Russian Imperial Stout. Russian Imperial Stouts are usually characterized by intense roasted flavors as well as sweetness from the malts. Usually these beers are about 7% ABV and upward and are relatively easy to make. In fact, we did very little deviation from the suggested recipe other than to add some flavors at the end to create the French Toast aspect, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
The first thing we did was create our grain sack in order to steep our grains. This bag that is shaped like an oversized sock and has the texture of gauze contained our crushed roasted barley, crushed caramel malts and black malts. These grains were specially picked for their roasted and sweet flavors. We tied the grain sack at the end and added it to 2.5 gallons of water that we started to boil.
While steeping your grains, it is very important not to allow the water to reach temperatures higher than 150 degrees. According to Brad, if your grains and water reach temperatures beyond this point they will cause your beer to have a bitter flavor, which definitely wasn’t what we were going for with this beer. Once the water hit that 150 degree point we removed the grain sack without straining. The whole thing kind of reminded me of a giant tea bag, except that you shouldn’t squeeze the bag when removing it like I do with tea bags [Editor’s note: You shouldn’t do that with your tea bags, either, Miss T). This pushes remnants of the grains into you beer, which is pretty gross. Now my water had become wort!
Next up, we turned the wort into the boil. What this means is that you allow it to warm up to a gentle, rolling boil. Once it started boiling we added in our remaining dried malts, liquid malts, brown sugar and maltodextrin. The malts were for more flavors, and these malts sure did taste just like the inside of a malted milk ball, trust me I tasted them! The maltodextrin is added to make the beer thicker and give it a fuller mouth feel – much like cornstarch would be added to create gravy. Next, we stirred this around a bit, and decided to crack a beer to enjoy on our own.
Once the wort was boiling up again we added our bittering hops. Despite the fact that a bitter beer was the last thing we were hoping to attain, bittering hops are necessary to balance out the sweetness of all those malts we added. I learned quickly that when adding the hops you have to be careful not to let the wort over-boil. To prevent this, as we started to continue to boil Brad used a spray bottle with water to control the foam.
After adding the bittering hops, you let it boil for 40 minutes. Then, you add in the aroma or finishing hops to make the scent of the beer stronger and add more flavors. Then you wait for it to boil for another 20 minutes.
During this downtime, we took the opportunity to try some of the beers Brad has already made along with some of his friends and their creation, Fermented Artistry. Among the beers that I was very pleased to sample was their Russian-style Kvass. This beer is traditionally made by fermenting with rye bread and is usually very low in alcohol (2-3% ABV). The best part was that a co-worker of his had given him some actual Russian Kvas to compare side-by-side. Long story short, Brad’s Kvass was awesome, and the Russian Kvas was questionable at best.
During the final last 5 minutes of the boiling process we added a few heaping spoonfuls of cinnamon – my favorite! We then allowed the wort to cool to approximately 70 degrees at which point we used an awesome homemade emulsifer (Brad’s an engineer) to thoroughly mix the delicious smelling concoction. He poured it through a straining device and into a large bucket along with the final addition of about 2.5 more gallons of water and transfered it to its container for fermentation.
The beer is not ready to drink, and the process wasn’t entirely done when I left. The following morning, after the beer had more opportunity to cool down, Brad added the yeast so it can begin eating up the sugars and turning it into carbonation and alcohol. The beer will continue to hang out and ferment for the next month or so, with Brad keeping an eye on it. Eventually vanilla beans and maple syrup will be added for more French Toast flavor. The finished product is expected to be approximately 8-9% ABV and will officially be called Breakfast at Tierney’s.
Original post: Homebrewing: Breakfast at Tierney’s – SaraBozich.com. Thanks Sara!