I have always been a fan of home brewing. Hell, I even created my own illegal homebrewing network when I was in Bangkok. Why would I go to such great lengths to make beer? Why would I do that?!
I wanted an IPA beer that was affordable that could keep up with my insatiable taste buds. HOBS was my go-to since I was in Thonglor, Bangkok but they offered nothing incredibly unique. I also spent time at Tawandang and even the Roadhouse. Both mostly bunk and generally a haven for expats. Now, mind you, this was back in 2011. I desperately hope things have changed due to how much beer the Thais consume (most per capita).
I wanted a proper IPA that I didn’t have to pay a huge amount for. Yes, imported beer was very expensive by Thai standards.
My only avenue? Some glorious illegal homebrewing!
So here is my recipe (always a work in progress) for a successful IPA brew this year. It’s a combination of what I toiled with in SE Asia, from my own beer lab here at home, and all the glorious beer blogs America has to offer. I am not a brew meister but I am hyper-inquisitive and compulsive about all things in the kitchen.
First and foremost, I can’t see any readers seriously trying this without having some experience with brewing and the necessary equipment so I am going to skip that part for the sake of brevity.
Note: I use NJ water. It’s hard and it’s strong.
- 2 gallons of filtered water (a few gallons later as well)
- 4 1/2 lbs Muntons DME Extra Light (dry malt extract, it’s just like that malt nugget in a Milky Way)
- 3 lbs. CBW Golden Light LME (liquid malt extract)
- 1 lb. pure flaked wheat and barley (as a tea)
- 1 tablespoon dried out Irish Moss as a stabilizer
- 2 oz. Cascade hops. This has plenty of pine and citrus notes
- 1 oz. of hops as a finisher
- 11.5 grams Safale US-05 dry ale yeast
- 50 priming sugar pellets
Ok, now that you went shopping it’s about time to drop the kah-nowledge down. Once all your equipment is sanitized start measuring everything out. Put everything out in front of you in a clean area. Tie the the grains into the tea muslin sock. Now we are ready to go.
The Beer Tea
Put the sock of grain in 2 gallons of water. Turn on high. Bring to a simmer. Pull the bag out and set aside. Discard when cool. Ok, that is step one. Should take about 15min.
Tha Sweetness, Dissolved
0 – 45 minutes: Pour the LME and “gently” put the DME into the boiling water. You are making a wort now. Make sure to deal with the DME carefully. It’s super sticky and sugary. It will get everywhere fast. Stir it for a few minutes to dissolve everything. Then add in the 2oz. of hops. Your goal is to boil it for 45 minutes but you need to get it on the right track first. Watch it since it has a habit of foaming and running over in the first 10 minutes. Stir baby, stir.
45 minutes – 58 minutes: Toss the Irish Moss in as a stabilizer.
58 minutes – 60 minutes: Add in the last oz. of the hop pellets.
Kill the heat and let cool for a couple minutes. Strain the wort through a cheesecloth and sieve. You want a clean product.
Once you pour your clean, filtered wort into the carboy or whatever you are using to cook-up this formula take a temperature. Where is at? Slowly fill the container with “cool” water up to the 19 liter or 5 gallon mark. As you go stop once in a while to take a reading so you don’t cool the wort too much. Once the entire wort reaches a steady temperature of 80ºF sprinkle the beer yeast in.
Give it a few solid Friar Tuck turns. Imagine yourself in the days of yore. You are the one the king, the prince and the knights lean on for all the ceremonial libations. You are the brewmeister, the monk and you cultivate that medieval brew. You are “the man”.
Back to the future. Take the specific gravity with your hydrometer. Write it down. Hell, write everything down for Tuck’s sake. Seal the lid of your container, insert the airlock and top it off with a little water in it. This creates the real seal. We are trying to create a quasi-anaerobic environment here. No oxygen means no bacteria, well at least here in the Tri-state area.
Place the fermentor in a cool (50-60ºF) place. When I was in Thailand I had to make a few odd contraptions (seen here) for this. Here on the East Coast, no sweat.
Come back to it in 3 days. When you have 2-3 days of exact hydrometric readings you are ready to bottle. I am looking for 1.018 or a tiny bit less for this one.
Sanitize all your bottles. Fill them, drop a priming sugar cube in each one and then cap them. My yield was about 48 regular sized bottles. Set them in a warm (75ºF), comfortable place for 5 days and then in a cool (65ºF) dark place for 3 weeks or longer. I do my brewing in the spring here on the East Coast. It is the perfect time to do it.
Goal: A fairly foamy top, dry taste, not too sweet with a lot of hops. Some citrus notes. Final brew should contain about 6-6.5% alcohol.
Initial reading (right after sealing the top)
- Ambient temperature of 55ºF
- 7:00 pm on April 5th
- S.G. = 1.060
Reading #2 (after 3 full days)
- Ambient temperature of 63ºF
- 9:45 am on April 9th
- S.G. = 1.040
- Ambient temperature of 64ºF
- 7:30 am on April 10th
- S.G. = 1.022
- Ambient temperature of 54ºF
- 8:30 am on April 11th
- S.G. = 1.018
Reading #5 (should be final)
- Ambient temperature of 66ºF
- 10 am on April 12th
- S.G. = 1.012