Once we learned the basics at Austin Homebrew, it was time to do it ourselves. As previously stated, we chose the Imperial stout recipe. The brewing process was fairly simple and foolproof, from start to finish. The recipe was straightforward and step-by-step, allowing for an easy night of brewing. All the equipment was labeled and documented in a little pamphlet provided by AHB. The first step was to sterilize the stock pot, thermometer, and gigantic spoon. We visually inspected the equipment before sterilizing, but found no dirt or grime to clean. Earlier in the day, I took the hops and yeast out of the refrigerator to let them warm up.
Next it was time to bring the water 155˚F and then steep the grains. We added the grains to the boiling bag and let it sit in the water, periodically moving the bag up and down to really let the grains move through the water. We did this for about 26 minutes, and halfway through the aroma really began to waft through the kitchen.
Following the steeping process, we let the boiling bag drain excess water into the pot and then tossed the grains. The formerly clear water was now a dark black, so we were headed in the right direction. We added in some more water and began to bring the pot to a boil. With such a large amount of water it took about 30 minutes to bring to a full boil. Once it was at a continuous boil we added in the malt, which brought with it an overpowering, concentrated smell. The smell permeated through the entire house and it was almost enough to make one feel a little nauseous. Opening the kitchen window brought only a little relief. We let that sit for about 45-60 minutes, occasionally stirring so the syrup didn’t burn to the pot.
Once the malt was sufficiently dissolved and cooked, it was time to add the hops editions. The recipe only called for one packet of Chinook hops, scheduled to cook for 60 minutes, however a packet of Kent Golding hops had found its way into the ingredients bag. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I called Austin Home Brew and they advised that it would be okay to just throw the unscheduled hops into the mix at about 5 minutes left in the scheduled hops cooking time. That was good enough for me and I did just that.
Next was the hardest part of the entire process – bringing the wort down to 80˚F in 20 minutes. We set up an ice bath in the sink and placed the pot inside. The ice would melt pretty quickly so we would constantly drain the water, add more ice, and repeat until the wort was cooled. Unfortunately, it took a little longer than 20 minutes so hopefully that doesn’t affect the end result too much. While the hops were cooking we had sanitized the fermenting bucket. It was time to dump the wort and add the yeast. After adding the wort and water to bring the brew to the necessary 5 ¼ gallon level, I stirred vigorously to allow it to breath and then added the yeast. I placed the lid on the bucket to close it up and, after adding sanitizer, placed the air lock in its designated hole.
It only took about an hour for the CO2 to start making bubbles in the air lock, which was a comforting sight. Hopefully the rest of the process is as easy as the brewing portion. We will update you once we begin the secondary stage.
Check out our video of the process: