Monday, December 7, 2009

Your first malt extract beer - Recipe

Here's a recipe to brew a malt extract beer. It will mostly take about 3h to brew this batch, which will then be left to ferment for few days, then bottled. After 2 to 3 weeks, you will be able enjoy your first home made beer.
The list of ingredients that you will need is listed below. You can get these from any LHBS, local or over the internet.
This recipe is for a gold ale, medium bitterness, not necessarily a clone of any commercial beer. As I lay down the ingredients, I'll explain what each are used for.

  • 3.3lb of light liquid malt extract (un-hopped). The most common brands are Muntons, Briess and Coopers. Any will work fine. This ingredient will provide the sugars for fermentation and malt flavors.

  • 3lb of Golden dry malt extract or DME. Will also be providing sugars for fermentation and flavor. The combination of both liquid and dry malt extract will compose the total available sugars for fermentation. This starting sugar concentration is important and called OG (original gravity) because it will determine how much alcohol your beer will contain. The more sugar available for the yeast to consume, the more alcohol it will generate during fermentation. There are limits on alcohol levels that each yeast strain can tolerate, but most will live with about 10% of alcohol by volume. Since most beers are about 5% abv, our yeast will still be alive once fermentation is completed. That is good news since we'll still need our yeast in order to provide a last time fermentation, now inside the bottle. Just before bottling, a limited and precised amount of regular sugar will be added to the beer (priming) so the still alive yeast can consume it and generate the CO2 that will carbonate our beer in the closed bottle, also called natural carbonation.. When using kegs and forced carbonation, no priming is required.

  • Wyeast American Ale 1056 - Smack pack. I like using this yeast that comes on a smack pack that contains the yeast in dormant state and a sealed nutrient bag inside. The bag is kept cool in the fridge and couple hours before our brew section start, we pop the inner bag with the nutrient so the yeast can be activated prior for pitching into the wort. It will inflate indicating that CO2 is been generated, therefore the yeast is active and ready to pitch. There are many different types of yeast for many different types of beer, some are a dry powder that needs to be re-hydrated, some are liquid, but all goes to personal preferences. Remember to keep it cool and avoid over heating the bad when transporting it from your LHBS.

  • 1oz of Cascade Hop and 1oz of Saaz hop - Pellets. Hops are called the spice of beer. It is a flower that gives the characteristic taste and aroma to a beer. It also helps to prevent the beer from spoiling and expand the shelf life. Hops are mostly available in two forms, leaves or pellets. I prefer using leaves, but for this recipe, pellets will be easier for a first batch ever.

  • 1 cup of priming sugar. As stated previously, sugar will be added prior to bottling for natural carbonation. This can be regular table sugar or priming sugar from your LHBS. For a 5gal batch of beer, only 1 cup of sugar will be needed.

  • 1 tea spoon of irish moss. This dry seaweed is used to help coagulate the proteins in the work when boiled, so it will decant easily to the bottle of the fermenter and provide a more clear beer when racking the beer of the fermenter. Any LHBS carry this item.

Here are the recipe numbers:

OG = Original gravity = 1.050

Expected FG = Final gravity = 1.004

Alcohol by volume = 6.1%

Bitterness = 27IBU

Color = 9SRM

Now some quick explanation of each of these numbers:

OG or original gravity is the expected density of the liquid that will be used for fermentation. That tell us how much sugar the wort will contain, what will determine how much alcohol the fermentation will produce. Distilled water would have a gravity of 1.000. This will be measured using the hydrometer, using a wort sample just before pitching the yeast. The OG can be calculated by formulas that estimate the amount of sugars that each malt extract contains, by its weight, brand and type. Tools are available on-line and many are free to use. Certain OG's are recommended for each style of beer and that information can also be found on-line.

FG or final gravity is the final density of the beer after the fermentation is completed and indicate the residual concentration of sugar . This number is not 1.000 because some of the sugars from the malt extract are not processed by the yeast, called non-fermentable sugars. It also depends of the strain of yeast used and on its capacity to transform the sugars into CO2 and alcohol. Some strains will provide a better transformation or attenuation than others. Attenuation (%) of a yeast indicate what percentage of the original sugars will be mostly consumed.

ABV or alcohol by volume is the final alcohol concentration of the beer. Again, it depends of the initial amount of sugar available in the wort (OG) and the residual sugars after fermentation is completed. So that been said, a simple formula can estimate the abv% by just subtracting the FG from the OG value and multiplying it by a constant of 129 or ABV%=(OG-FG)*129.

IBU or international bitterness unit is a measure of how bitter your beer will be. It is just an estimation that is based on the type of hops used, the amount and the time it is left to boil in the wort. Humulus Lupulus or hops are flowers that contain a resin that when boiled, will dissolve into the wort and spice the beer. Different species of hops have different concentration of compounds that create the bitter taste (alpha acids), as well as a particular taste and aroma. The same web based tools used for OG and FG calculation also estimate the bitterness of a recipe. The ability of one to feel the bitter taste in a beer will also depend on him/his sensibility and to the amount of other ingredients in the beer, as well as the residual sugars or FG. A beer that is light in malt flavor and with low FG will have the bitterness much more perceptible than another beer with same IBU's but with a strong malt flavor and high FG, in which the bitterness can hide and be less perceptible.

Color of a beer is related to the intensity in which the barley malt was toasted and in the case of malt extract, few levels are available for the home brewers. Pilsen malt extract is a very light colored malt, while light, golden, amber and dark would provide each as darker and more toasted flavor when used. This number can also be calculated using the web based tools previously discussed.

Check my next post for the step-by-step process using this recipe.

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