Brew Day!: Red Cap Ale  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

A teacher friend whose DIY-bent husband decided to get into homebrewing invited us out to their place today.

Their house/location is probably worth its own post sometime, but tonight we went out to homebrew some beer. B.B. brewed some wine last week that's been fermenting in their garage, but this was his first shot at an ale - it's a Xmas present to a buddy at work so I hope it turns out.

The setup:
Propane tank wired to a metal stand they use to fry turkeys on Thanksgiving. You heard me. Fry turkeys. On top of the metal frame is a detached keg: the top has been cut out and a spigot retrofitted on the left side in the picture below.

The mash: In this brew kettle we first brought 2 gal. of water and brew salts to shy of a boil, throwing in a muslin grain bag with a mixture of Vienna, pale malt, and roasted barley for a 20 min. mash. After draining the grain bag, BB added a several-cup container of malt extract - a syrupy mixture that looks like honey and smells like raw wheat.

The boil:
Once the water began to boil, he added a 1 oz. packet of E. Kent Goldings, a classically British aroma hop. That was boiled for 50 minutes alone, at which time an oz. of Fuggles was added for a five minute boil. (You can just catch BB in the back there cleaning out the fermentation tank.)

After 55 minutes of slow boiling, the wort was stirred for five minutes before being cooled over 2 gal. of ice that melts into the wort, and then topped off to 5 gallon with cool water. Once the mixture was at the right cool temperature, it was transferred to this 6-gal. glass carboy, and the yeast (which had been activated approximately 3 hours prior) was pitched. The glass stopper admits gas into its chamber without releasing moisture.

If all goes right, this Irish red ale will ferment for 7-12 days in a 66-68 degree environment, and be ready for bottling/sampling in two weeks.

This was my first brew day, and it was a lot of fun. Our apartment/environs leave a lot to be desired for homebrewing, so I plan on pursuing this hobby vicariously through BB. Fortunately, he seems to be in a thrall quite the same as mine - indeed, plans are set for a Honey Brown ale brewing next week.

Better pictures to follow.
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COOOL! About time, I must say.

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