Where should I start? Part 4 - The Big Day

Posted by Barley Beaver on

Part 4

Brew Day

Ok, you got your equipment, your ingredients, have decided on which method - extract, BIAB, or all-grain - you’ll go with during your first brew day, now what? It’s time to get busy and do some actual brewing! Depending on the method you’re going to employ and the recipe, the entire duration of your brew day may vary from 3 to up to 8 hours, and you’ll have to be engaged in the process the entire time. So first recommendation for the Big Day is this:

Make sure to have enough free time for the entire duration of the brew ~

The best way to spoil the experience and make it very stressful is having a strict time frame or trying to multitask while brewing your beer. Some time down the road when you’ll have plenty of batches under your belt, you may be able to pull off brewing a batch after or before work, shopping, or travel, and even do some errands in-between, mashing, sparging, and while chilling the wort. But until you know how long every step takes, and what items you’ll need to perform every task, it’s best to have only one thing scheduled for the day - brewing.

Plan ahead and have everything ready at your disposal ~

Whether brewing with a recipe kit or going all the way with all-grain mashing, you will need a set of tools to get things done during the brewday. And it’s best to have the scales for weighing hops, the mash paddle, the hydrometer, and all the other items ready within your immediate reach before you even start heating up the water. There’s no better way to get stressed out during your first brewday than frantically searching for weighing scales for hops while your wort is boiling over from the kettle. Just try to avoid that and have everything ready.

Have all your ingredients ready ~

This should go without saying, but still, there are people who may start their brewday without making sure that they have all the ingredients ready for the job. This is easily avoided when brewing with a recipe kit, since all the ingredients are included and you don’t need anything else. However, when using extract or grains, first make sure that you have all the hops for the recipe, and that there’s the right kind of yeast waiting in the fridge. Sanitize your equipment when switching to the cold side ~

Everything you do before and during the boiling phase is pretty much safe in terms of sanitation as long as there’s no heavy dirt involved. Since boiling is one of the best ways to kill off any pathogens and unwanted microorganisms, you don’t need any extra sanitation for the equipment used in the process. However, things change dramatically when you turn off the heat and start chilling the wort. The period of time between end of boil and yeast pitching is critical in terms of microbiology, since the cooling wort represents the perfect medium for all kinds of microorganisms that may lead to contamination and a spoiled batch. To avoid this it is strongly recommended to use dedicated brewing sanitizers, such as Iodine or Star San, in order to sanitize your fermenter and all the measuring equipment that gets in contact with the beer after the heat is turned off.

These are general recommendations for making your first brewday as stress-free as possible. For the exact process it’s best to check the recipe, either provided with the kit, or found online, but it’s pretty much the same for the vast majority of beers you’ll be brewing in the future. And it’s definitely good to be able to enjoy a laid-back brewing session that goes with the flow and offers a stress-free activity, which homebrewing should be all about.

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