Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Home Brewed Beer: The Smoked Porter, Part 1

You may remember us telling you about how a lot of our friends are home brewers. When we have tasting events, we have generally been responsible for food. Well, we have decided to join them in their beer making ventures. We have the space now to keep a vat of beer while it bubbles away. We asked our friend, Nathan (a fellow brewer), to help us with our first beer experiment.

The party we are brewing for is Darktoberfest, where everyone was asked to brew either a porter or a stout. Zack loves all things smoked (food and drink, we mean) so, of course our first beer would have to be smoked as well. Michelle talked him out of adding the peat smoke that he loves (and she despises). We went with just a regular smoked porter. Because of the length of this process, we're splitting the posts up into at least two. We're sure you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting to read about the ending.

Here's what you need:
1 brewing kit
1 beer recipe with grains/malts/hops included
1 5 gallon stainless pot (ironically, we purchased this to make Beer Sausage for another tasting party)
2 large bags of ice
1 large tub
1 mesh strainer

Here's what you do:
Start off by convincing your wife/girlfriend/significant other that you should make your own beer. After that, the rest is cake.

Sanitize everything that will be touching your beer. You don't want any bacteria to have a chance to contaminate your beer and grow mold. 

Heat 2 1/2 gallons of water to 150 degrees F. We used a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the water temp.

While that's heating up, spread the cheesecloth that comes in your kit over a medium bowl and pour in your grains. Mix it up with a spoon to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Tie this up and continue to wait for the water to come to the correct temperature.

Once your water is ready, immerse your grains in the water and tie to the side of the pot. You don't want them to rest on the bottom of the pot because there's a chance of them burning. This first process is essentially like making tea.

After about 10 minutes, you actually feel like you're making beer, because you end up with this:

Pull your teabag of grains. Let it drip out all of the liquid you can get, but don't squeeze the bag. First of all, it's hot. Second, you don't want any extraneous grain hopping back into your beer.

Place it back in the medium bowl you used to fill it. You won't need it again, but it makes quite a mess and you'll want to let it cool before throwing it away.

Now, turn up the heat and let that come up to a boil. This will take a while, so get comfortable.

Once you have a nice rolling boil going, pour in your malt extract. Someone will need to be stirring constantly and making sure that the malt doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. If it does, it will burn and ruin your beer.

Now, let that come back up to a boil. More waiting... 

Did we mention our friend Nathan helped us with our first beer? Well, he did. Now you know.

Aha! Boiling!

Now, add the pellets of hops to the boiling beer.

Result: green foam and pungent hoppy smell. Michelle is not a fan.

Bring it back up to a boil. Add your second packet of hops.

And that, kids, is where we take a break. Stay tuned for the next installments of our Smoked Porter.


  1. Make sure you save me a bottle!


  2. We will definitely set one aside for you!