Heat the Milk
Heat 1/2 gallon of milk to 180 degrees to pasteurize it.
Add 1 cup of your choice of sweetener. I used plain sugar, but you can use honey, brown sugar, etc.
Cover and cool in a cold-water bath until the mixture reaches 115 degrees. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla extract.
Add 1 small container of plain store-bought yogurt and stir well. Make sure it says "contains active cultures."
The yogurt needs to incubate at 110-115 degrees for 4-6 hours, 12 at the most. I used a heating pad inside a cooler.
The bacteria digest sugar and lactose, producing lactic acid which forms the yogurt curd. Longer time = tarter yogurt.
The quart-jars will actually seal when refrigerated. I used a small tupperware to keep a starter culture for next time.
7 1/2 lb barley, 2 lb flaked corn, 9 gallons water, hops, liquid brewer's yeast, and corn sugar for carbonation.
Milling the Grain
Greg got the easy job here.
This is probably the most labor-intensive part of the whole brew day, so it's nice to get it out of the way first thing.
A good crush leaves the hull of the grain intact to act as a filter later, while the starchy endosperm is broken apart.
Inspecting the Crush
Checking the crush to make sure I'm crushing all of the grains, but not ending up with barley flour.
Brewer's salts (in this case, gypsum) are added to adjust the water profile according to the style of beer being brewed.
Grains are mixed with the hot "strike water" to achieve a mash temp of 153 degrees. This is a one-step infusion mash.
Enzymes in the barley are activated at this temperature and begin converting starch to fermentable sugars.
Once the mash temperature is reached, the mash "rests" for about an hour, until all of the starches are converted.
Check the pH
The pH of the mash plays a role in the finished beer. Mainly, color is affected.
Gravity is My Friend
Hot water in the top cooler will rinse the sugars from the grains in the mash tun (second tier) into the brewpot below.
The first runnings from the grain are very cloudy, so they will be run off and recirculated through the bed of grains.
The wort (unfermented beer) is carefully poured back into the mash tun until it begins to run clear down below.
The wort is poured over a spoon to avoid making channels in the grain bed. You want the water to seep through slowly.
Nice Clear Runoff
After recirculating about 1/2 gallon, the runoff is clear and we can begin to collect our wort.
The grainbed is sparged (rinsed) with hot water, and sugars are extracted from the grains. Slow sparge = good extraction
This cool device evenly distributes the sparge water in a gentle rotating sprinkle to avoid channeling in the grainbed.
Stop the Sparge!
As the runoff drops below a certain sugar percentage, we stop collecting it to avoid extracting harsh tannins from the grain hulls.
The wort is boiled for 60-90 minutes to concentrate the sugars and extract bitterness from the hops.
The wort is rapidly cooled to temps the yeast can tolerate. Cold water circulates through the copper coil and carries heat away from the wort. Coagulated proteins precipitate out of the wort too, leaving the beer much more clear.
Chill out, man.
Cold water enters the copper tubing above, flows through the coils & absorbs heat, & exits the plastic tubing very hot.
Masked and Anonymous
Sanitation is crucial at this point. bacteria in the air or my mouth would love to get into the wort and spoil the beer!
The cooled wort is collected into a 6.5 gallon carboy. Here it will settle a bit before we add the yeast.
The wort is full of protein flakes, hops particles, and other junk called trub. We want to let most of this settle out.
Starting to Settle
The nasty trub (rhymes with boob) is starting to settle out. We'll siphon the clear wort off the top into the fermenter.
Nice clear wort
The clear wort is collected and fresh water is added to reach 5 gallons. That's about 54 bottles of finished beer.
Aeration is Key
The yeast will need tons of oxygen to start reproducing, before they begin creating delicious alcohol and other flavors.
Activated Yeast Starter
The packet on the right has been activated and growing for several hours, so it's ready to be added to the wort.
100 Billion of my Buddies
About 100 billion yeast cells are pitched (added) into the wort. I guess at this point you could start calling it beer.
It takes anywhere from a couple hours to a day for active fermentation to begin. The beer is held at about 65 degrees.
No Skunks Allowed!
The t-shirt blocks light from the fermenting beer, which would react with the hops to make very skunky beer. Yuck!
Chopping raisins is no fun! Thankfully, mom got me a food processor for Christmas, so I can skip this step next time.
The fruit is boiled to sterilize it and release the juices.
The juice is strained into the sanitized primary fermenter, a 2.5 gallon plastic food storage container.
Pectic enzyme digests the pectin in fruit, which would make the wine cloudy. Acid blend balances out the sweetness.
Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) kill off any wild yeast and bacteria before the wine yeast is added.
Boiled and cooled OJ, yeast nutrient, and dry wine yeast make up the starter. This gives the yeast a headstart.
This is where the must (unfermented wine) gets turned into wine. The airlock lets CO2 escape but prevents contamination.
Racking the wine
The mostly-fermented wine is transferred (racked) to the secondary fermenter, which is a 1-gallon glass jug.
Here, the wine will mellow out, ferment to completion, and clarify. Raisin wine in front, raisin and strawberry in back.
Ready to Bottle!
After 3 months and several more rackings the wine is free of sediment and ready to bottle, where it will age for 1 year.