Brewer’s Best Red Ale : Extract Kit
For my third batch I’d decided to go with a Red Ale. As this is one of my favorite types of beer, I was pretty excited for this one. After my last couple of batches, I’m starting to get the process a little bit more organized. My planning and execution are making for a better working environment, and I’m FAR less afraid that my batches may not turn out. I used a kit from Brewer’s Best for the Red Ale. The kit contained the usual stuff. I’ve pictured the kit label and most of the major ingredients below. I missed the grains that were steeped – the label on that one said “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt”
Steeping, Cooking, and Hops
For this batch, you start by steeping the supplied grains for 20 minutes. This step is by far my favorite. It smells amazing, and turns the water a great color. For the steeping step, I added “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt” as included in my kit. I took a few pictures of the grains steeping in the grain bag. Next you add the syrup and dry malt. Bring that to a boil and add the first bit of hops. At this point, it just rolls. Let it boil and stir it occasionally. For this batch I decided to boil at a lower temperature. The water is boiling, but not as aggressively as I’ve done for my other 2 brews. For the last ten minutes of the boil, the bittering hops are added. Now it’s time to cool.
Cooling the Wort
I learned on my second batch that my sink is a perfect size for my brew pot. If I fill the sink with ice, I can place the pot in the sink and give it an ice bath. I spray the outside of my hot pot with cold water. I also spin the pot so that the contact surface with the ice water is always changing. In about 15 minutes, the wort is cool enough to be poured into the fermenting bucket ( which already has 3 gallons of clean water in it ). I may be wrong, but I don’t worry much about getting the wort all the way down to 70 degrees. I feel like having cool water in the bucket will take warm water and cool it that last bit so that the yeast will be happy.
Once the wort and water mixture is in the bucket, I started getting the yeast ready to add. My kit insructions don’t say to activate the yeast, but my yeast packet does. I’ve actually done this both ways, and both worked fine. To activate the yeast, I just pour it in a small cup of water, let it sit 10 minutes, then slowly add a little of the wort/water mixture in. I think of it a lot like introducing new fish to an aquarium. Slowly acclimate the yeast to it’s new watery home. I let this batch of beer sit in the fermenter for 10 days. I felt like 7 was too short for my two previous batches. I also kept it in a dark closet that stays a little warmer than the rest of my house ( it’s still Winter ). The sitting temp was about 71 – 73 degrees. Seems solid to me.
Bottling the Beer
Bottling went pretty straightforward. I used a mixture of long neck bottles, grolsch style bottles, and a couple of “growlers” from my local microbreweries. I love using a couple of growlers. They let you speed up the process, and they’re great for hauling to a party! I’m 5 for 5 now, but I’ve been warned that growlers make EXTRA big bottle bombs. You’ve been warned! I cracked open my first bottle of Red after 7 days. NOT time yet. Still far too sweet at this point. I cracked my second bottle open at 14 days. NOT time yet, either. Better than the first one, but still too sweet. Week three was the money week. Finally the beer was decent to drink. This is easily the best beer of the three I’ve made. I think that my process is getting better, and it’s resulting in much better beer.
Week 3 was just the start of this beer being great. It honestly gets better with each passing week. After 8 weeks, it’s a GREAT beer.