Winter Warmer

December 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve been brewing my own beer for roughly a year. I have a lot of my own equipment, and I’m borrowing some from a friend while I acquire the rest. I just started my fifth batch tonight, a darkish ale with above average alcohol content called Winter Warmer.

I get my supplies from Northern Brewer, a company based in Minnesota. If you have your own recipes, they have all the supplies you could want, or at least all I can imagine. They also have recipe kits of their own. You just browse their recipes, pick one, and they send all the ingredients with instructions.

Don’t worry, I’m not kidding myself into thinking I’m becoming the next Jim Cook; it’s a fun hobby, and it’s really good beer that’s significantly less expensive than buying microbrews.

Anyway, this recipe calls for something I’ve never done before, a yeast starter. See, normally you boil the ingredients for a while, cool it down, add yeast, and let it sit. Boiling breaks down the complex starches into simple starches the yeast can eat and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide. But this recipe gives the yeast lots more starch, resulting in the higher alcohol content.

Apparently, the normal amount of yeast for a typical 5 gallon batch doesn’t cut it for this recipe. They can’t handle all that starch and get stressed out or something. I don’t know the details, but I know that in general, if the yeast are happy (they have the right food, the right temperature, no other bacteria to compete with, etc.) the beer probably won’t suck. I also know that NB recommend a yeast starter, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

Long story short, I just gave my yeast an all you can eat buffet and put on some Barry White. So instead of about a dozen billion yeast cells, I’ll be adding a couple hundred billion on brewing day so they can handle the job. This batch should be ready in February or so. I’m anticipating it’ll be worth the wait. It has been for each batch so far.

I like my new hobby.

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