Whitetail IPA

Saturday · March 16, 2002 · 10:41 PM

I’m making beer. Not really sure why I decided to do this, but there you go. I thought I’d share with everyone, so they can see how simple it is. And how many ways I managed to screw things up.

First off, it’s more expensive than I thought it would be. I paid over $100 for the supplies and ingredients. When I’m done (hopefully in four weeks) I’ll end up with 40 bottles of beer (technically an IPA). Do the math and you’ll see that this is more expensive per bottle than, well, anything I’d ever drink.

I got my carboy, funnels, hoses, secondary bottling bucket, fermentation locks, cleaner, sanitizer, etc. Pretty much a roomful of stuff. The last piece was a huge pot, since I needed something that would hold three gallons. All I had was a 1-quart saucepot, which obviously wasn’t going to work.

So, I get up this morning and started brewing first thing. Here’s my log, which is long and may not be interesting for anyone that hasn’t made beer, but indulge me.

11:40 – Wake up. It’s a little earlier than I wanted to get up, but I’m excited to make beer.

11:45 – Take the new pot out of the box and wash it off. Except the pot doesn’t fit in the sink, so the water sort of sloshes around. Around the counter and floor, mostly.

12:00 – Mop the kitchen floor with the soapy water I spilled.

12:10 – Filled the carboy with tap water (which is hard since I can’t pour water into it without making a mess) and added iodophor sanitizer. Also soaked funnel, filter screen, spoon, hosing, stopper and (indirectly) my shoes.

12:20 – Mop the floor again. Take off shoes.

12:30 – Forgot I needed ice to cool things down. I don’t have the technology to make ice (I have a freezer and water, but no trays). Went to the store. My shoes squish when I walk.

1:15 – Got home, put ice in freezer and took shoes off again.

1:20 – Put two gallons of tap water on the stove to start boiling. Made a ‘tea bag’ out of cheese cloth filled with – 1 Lb Biscuit Malt and 1 Lb Crystal 20L. I have no idea what these are, but that’s what the label on the bag says. It looks like crushed wheat. Spilled a half-cup or so on the counter and floor. Added the bag into the still-cold water and grabbed the broom.

1:30 – As the water gets warmer, the pot looks like it’s filled with tea. It smells like balls, though. Well, not really ‘balls’, but it’s terrible, almost like burning plastic. Not at all beer-like.

1:35 – Keep stepping on pieces of grain I dropped on the floor. Sweep again.

1:40 – The smell bothers me so much, that I look under the pot. There’s a made in the USA sticker burning on the bottom. Peel it off with an old wooden spoon. The spoon gets burned and has a goopy plastic label stuck to it, so I throw the spoon out.

1:45 – The water is boiling nicely and is a medium brown color. Looks like beer already! Turn off the heat and try to figure out how to get the ‘tea bag’ thing out. It’s about the size of a baby’s head (and twice the weight) and is currently 212 degrees F.

1:50 – Manage to use a spoon to get the bag out of the pot and onto the floor (I was aiming for the sink, in case you’re wondering). Wish I hadn’t ruined my other spoon. Get the mop out again. Add Light Malt Extract (7 Lb tub) to the pot and stir until things are dissolved, turn the heat back on.

1:55 – Malt Extract is very much like tar. Except stickier. The tub it came in is now stuck to the counter top and I can’t get it off. It may be there until I move…

2:15 – The stuff is boiling nicely, add the first of the hops – .75 ounces of Chinook Hop Pellets (these will boil a full hour and provide bitterness). These are ground hops that have been pressed into small pellets. Very much like Easter bunny droppings. Except Easter bunny droppings are made out of chocolate.

2:30 – They say a watched pot never boils. My ass. I’ve watched this sucker for 15 minutes and it’s boiling just fine. The kitchen is getting steamy.

2:35 – Stepped on a spot of that Malt Extract that I must have spilled on the floor. My sock sticks to it. Take sock off and leave it there. I’ll chisel it off the floor some other time. I’m pretty sure this is the crap they use as glue for the space shuttle tiles.

2:50 – Add the second of the hops. This time .75 ounces of Centennial Hops (for more bittering and some flavor). There’s a virtual fogbank in my kitchen. I have to wipe my glasses off and can’t see out the window.

2:55 – Take my shirt off. I’d take my pants off, but I think the neighbors can see me through the dining Room window. It’s like a sauna in my kitchen. That is if saunas used beer for steam instead of water. Start writing a business proposal for a chain of Beer Saunas.

3:00 – Add one more ounce of Centennial Hops (for flavoring). Wallpaper is literally peeling off. Seriously. I know you won’t believe me, but it’s true. Anyone in the area can come over and see. Bring some wallpaper paste.

3:05 – Wipe the steam off of the window. There are three squirrels sitting out back watching me. I’m pretty sure they were talking until they noticed me. Maybe they were trying to set up a fourth for Bridge, not sure. I briefly consider throwing that wet bag of grain at them, but figured they’d actually like it as a snack.

3:10 – Add the last of the hops, one ounce of Cascade Hops (for aroma). I’m not a patient man and I’m starting to think about all the places I could walk to and buy beer. Pre-made, in a bottle, already cold and ready to drink.

3:15 – After an hour of boiling, I take the pot off the stove. Burn my right hand pretty seriously (cheap pot with metal handles). I write the rest of my log with my left hand and suck my sore fingers like a baby. I wedge the pot in the sink and add ice and cold water around the pot to chill the goop down. It’s officially ‘wort’ at this stage and is the color of milk chocolate. The ice feels good on my burnt fingers. I put some ice in a glass and pour up some Doctor Pepper.

3:20 – The entire house now smells like beer. Starting to get hungry. Call Dominos for a pizza (large thin crust, with three toppings – extra cheese, hamburger, and sausage).

3:25 – Having trouble reading the log, since I don’t write well with my left hand, but it looks like after stirring and cooling, I put two gallons of bottled water into the carboy. Used the funnel this time, so there was no need to get the mop. To bad, because some water on the floor might have loosened the sock up.

3:55 – Thirty ka-freaking minutes of pouring the wort into the carboy. The screen in the funnel (which is supposed to strain the wort) is so fine that the hops clog and nothing gets through. I have to stir the funnel to get a trickle going. When I’m done, the funnel is filled with boiled hops. It is the color and consistency of soft baby stool. But there’s like three weeks worth of it (or something from a very large baby). This step is officially called ‘sparging’. That feels like an appropriate term.

4:00 – Top the carboy off with another gallon of tap water. Five gallons of yummyness. It smells like beer and tastes like beer (well, very bitter, sweet beer without the alcohol, but still beer). If I was yeast, I’d eat this stuff up!

4:05 – Slide the carboy into my closet and add the yeast (Wyeast, pure pitchable yeast 1056-American). Put a stopper in, with hose to allow run off into a bucket that has some water in it. It’s hard to explain the setup, but it’s very similar to the way a bong works.

4:10 – Pizza arrives. Whatever happened to the 30-minute delivery guarantee? Pour myself another Doctor Pepper and relax. Yum. If I was yeast, I’d eat this pizza up!

4:15 – Burn the roof of my mouth with hot cheese. A nice cool beer would be perfect right about now.

Well, that’s it. In two days I’ll add more hops (3/4 an ounce of Cascade Hops, for a full bodied aroma) and change the run-off hose for a fermentation lock. A couple weeks later I’ll put this stuff in bottles. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

I should point out that IPA is a fairly bitter beer. It gets that from the hops, which also add a natural preservative. Unfortunately, it has to ferment for two weeks after bottling, which means I won’t be drinking until the middle of April.

This went so well, I’m thinking about getting the ingredients for my Crystal Meth recipe and cooking a batch up in my bathtub (just need to find the Sodium Hydroxide and Dilute Hydrochloric acid).