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Brewing Wedding Ale

2011 February 28
by Chris

Well, we have brewed the first 5 gallons of what will soon be our “Wedding Ale.” (Side note, if anyone has a better name, let me know.  Trent and Jean had their “Nupti-ale” at their wedding!)

Anyway, we got to brewing about noon and the weather was beautiful. We also had some great company.  Unfortunately, my parts to finish converting the used keg into a brew kettle had still not arrived, so the keg served as a table to hold my computer while we listened to music.  Fortunately, the turkey fryer pot was just big enough to do the job, so it worked out just fine.

Keg as a computer stand

We did all the hard work on Saturday, and now it’s time to just sit back and wait while the yeast turn the sweet wort into alcoholic beer.  We won’t know if it tastes good for about a month!  Fortunately, all of the early signs look good.  (Note: entering beer geek mode for a couple of sentences) The original gravity of the beer was exactly where it should have been, and within a matter of hours of pitching our yeast, the beer was already fermenting well – all good signs!

Here are a few pictures I managed to snap while brewing.  Next time, I think Katy is going to try to take some video.  However, this time she was busy playing hostess, providing snacks and drinks for all of our friends that came over to help with the brew and hang out on a Saturday afternoon.

Spent grain mash tun

All the grain in my cooler mash tun

hanging out

Hanging out while we brew

brewery setup

Under the towels, the grain is steeping in the cooler full of hot water

home brew wort boiling

The beer after the hops were added and it had boiled for a while

Brewing the all-grain wheat beer was relatively easy for a first attempt at all-grain.  Here is the low-down on our batch sparging method:

1) Heat up the right amount of water for your mash (ours needed about 3 gallons) to the desired temperature (170 degrees for this one)

2) Pour the hot water into the mash tun and close the lid so that the mash tun will heat up.

3) Check the temperature – it should have dropped a few degrees, but still be 5-10 degrees your target mash temperature.  If it’s too warm, open it up and stir for a few minutes.

4) Once you are in the right temperature range, dump in the grain and mix it up well.

5) Check the temperature to make sure you are at your correct mash temperature, which for us was about 150 degrees.

6) Close it up and wait an hour.  While you’re waiting, heat up your water you will use to batch sparge.

7) Vorlauf about half a gallon, then drain into the brew pot.

8) Pour in your sparge water (the amount of water you need to reach your desired boil volume).  It should be just slightly above your mash temperature

9) Let sit for 10-15 more minutes.

10) Vorlauf again, and then add to your kettle.

11) Then, brew as normal, adding in the hops as needed

12) Cool, pour into the fermentor, aerate, then pitch the yeast

13) Sit back and wait while it ferments!

For full instructions on brewing your first all-grain batch, I recommend these great instructions.

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