August 24, 2011

Brewing 101: Amarillo Pale/Amarillo Peach

Since my previous post on homebrewing, I've been mighty busy visiting breweries in North Carolina and Virginia - and working on my next batch of beer.  Several of you offered some good tips, so I made a few modifications to the recipe.  If you're interested in making your own beer, this post will give you a taste of what's involved.

Here's the updated recipe for what I decided to call Amarillo Pale and Amarillo Peach:

1 lb. Flaked Wheat
1 lb. Organic Carapils Malted Barley
3 lbs. Briess Pilsen Extra Light LME (liquid malt extract)
3 lbs. Wheat LME
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 oz. Amarillo hops for 60 mins
1/4 oz. Amarillo hops for the final 15 mins
1/4 oz. Amarillo hops for the final 5 mins
WLP001 California Ale Yeast
The 5 gallon batch is to be divided into three parts, two of which will utilize locally-grown, hand-picked peaches as adjuncts.

1.  The first, least glamorous, but probably most important, step in making beer is to sanitize everything that may come in contact with your beer.  Otherwise you risk getting bacteria or wild yeast in your beer that could ruin the whole batch.

2.  Steep the grains if you have them.  In this case I did a "mini-mash" using a pound of flaked wheat for body and a pound of organic Carapils malted barley for flavor and fermentable sugar.  I put the grains into a gallon of water and did my best to keep the temperature between 150F and 155F to pull the enzymes from the mash without over-cooking them.

3.  Next, strain the grains, reserving the water (now called wort) and wash, or sparge, the grains with hot water to make sure you get all the good stuff out.  You can discard these spent grains now - mine go straight to the compost.

4.  Then mix in the malt extract and turn up the heat.  I used 3 lbs extra light liquid malt extract and 3 lbs wheat liquid malt extract, hoping for a light-colored beer with a decent amount of alcohol content.  Most homebrewers lack the equipment necessary to process 10-20 pounds of grain, so a malt extract, either driy (DME) or liquid (LME), is an easy way to get fermentable sugars into your wort.   Homebrewers might start with all-extract recipes and work their way up to all-grain as they become more proficient.

5.  Now the countdown begins.  I boiled the wort for 1 hour, adding the hops at different points in the boil to achieve bitterness, flavor, and aroma.  I chose Amarillo hops to (hopefully) complement the peaches.

Hops for homebrewing usually come in pellet form.
6.  When the boil is over, cool the wort to less than 90F.  Move to your primary fermenter, add enough water (preferably filtered) to make 5 gallons.  Take a reading of the Original Gravity (to calculate alcohol content later), then pitch the yeast.

7.  Over the next several days, the yeast will feed on the sugars in the beer, thus producing alcohol and CO2.

8.  About halfway through fermentation, move your beer from one container to another, adding any additional ingredients that you may have.  In this case, peaches, which I had already sliced, pitted, and frozen beforehand.  Amarillo Pale got no peaches, Amarillo Peach got two, and Amarillo Double Peach got four.

Amarillo Peach on the left, Amarillo Pale, and Amarillo Double Peach.
In ten days or so, we'll bottle it up!