Monday, April 4, 2016

Brewing Basics

1. Describe at least 3 methods of sanitation and the importance of a sanitary environment for brewing. (50-100 words)
Sanitation is important in a brewing environment.  It reduces the bacteria and contaminants present in your set up.  Bacteria and other contaminants can lead to your alcohol having the incorrect flavor, and in more extreme instances, can cause the alcohol container to form mold.  All items that will come into contact with your wort after it has boiled will need to be sanitized (Palmer). 
There are several different methods that can be used to sanitize your equipment for home-brewing.  One of the most frequently used methods of sanitizing equipment is the use of a bleach solution.  This requires that the items to be in contact with the solution for one to five minutes (McGlynn).   Federal regulations state that the bleach solution should use a maximum of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. If a stronger concentration of bleach is used you have to rinse the items after cleaning (McGlynn).  The items should be allowed to drain before being used.  Also, chlorine is very corrosive, so it should not be used on metal surfaces that may rust.  Another method of sanitizing equipment is to use dry heat from the oven.  Items are placed in the oven at between 250 and 340 degrees F, and left for an extended period of time, which will actually sterilize them.  The final method I will describe is the use of Star San, which is my preferred method of sanitation. Star San is an acidic sanitizer and requires only 30 seconds of contact and no rinsing to sanitize the equipment (Palmer).
2.  Define the following, and their importance to brewing (25-100 words each):
Carboy A carboy is a large glass or plastic container with a narrow neck.  This container is used where the wort is kept during the fermentation process.
AirlockAn airlock is a one-way valve that is used in the neck of a carboy.  This valve allows for gas to escape from the container while keeping impurities out.
HydrometerA hydrometer is an instrument made of glass that is used to measure the gravity of alcohol being brewed.  This is used to determine the alcohol level of the liquid.
Mash/lauter tunA mash or lauter tun is a container that is used to hold the mash while brewing.  They typically have a false bottom in them to help strain the wort from the grains after the mashing process. 
Hopback  -- A hopback is a brewing container that the wort runs into after boiling. It has a false bottom, like the mash tun, to allow for the hops to be strained from the liquid (Merriam-Webster).
Hop bags Hop bags are nylon mesh bags that the hops are kept in during the brewing process instead of using a hopback or mash tun.  This allows for the hops to be removed easily without the use of a strainer (Palmer).
Immersion chiller  Immersion chillers are copper coils that are placed into hot wort to cool them.  Cool water is run through the copper tubing to cool the wort and carry away the heat until it reaches a specific temperature (Wikipedia).

Chemicals and additives:
Potassium metabisulfate – Potassium metabisulfate is an agent used in wine making to kill bacteria and wild yeast.  This agent can also help prevent browning in white wine (Midwest Supplies).
Irish moss – Irish moss is a red seaweed that is added to a brew at the end of the boiling process.  This moss acts as a fining agent for the brew.
Yeast nutrientsYeast nutrients are elements that are added to a fermenting brew in order to keep the yeast healthy through the fermentation process.  These nutrients may help the yeast to continue fermenting for a longer period of time.
Wine acids (citric, malic, and tartic acids) Wine acids, such as citric acid, are weak, organic acids used as a natural preservative in wine making.  They add a sour taste to the brew and prevent against mold and bacteria (The Regents of the University of California, Davis). 
Yeast – Yeast is a single-celled organism that is used during fermentation.  Yeast cells consume the sugar in the wort and turn it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 
Malted grains – Malted grains are grains that have been soaked in water and then aerated to encourage the grain to sprout.  They are then dried to stop the sprouts from growing.  These grains have a high level of sugar starch (Eddings).
Honey – Honey is a thick, sweet fluid created by bees from the nectar of flowers.  Honey is used in brewing both to create mead or honey beers (Merriam-Webster). 
Fruit  -- Fruit is used to in the brewing of beers, wines, and meads to modify the end flavor.  With mead, the addition of fruit creates a melomel.  Wine is created by fermenting grapes and other fruit juices. 
Spices – Spices, such as chili and ginger have frequently been used in beer, wine, and mead.  The addition of spices to a brew can drastically change the final flavor of the alcohol. 
Hops – Hops are the flowers or cones of a female hop plant.  They are used during the brewing process to give flavor and bitterness to the final product.  They can be used whole, or formed into pellets.    
Straight and varietal meadsMead is a form of alcohol that is produced by fermenting honey.  Straight mead only uses water, honey, and yeast to create the final product.  Varietal meads may utilize a different variety of honey, such as clover or wildflower honey.
MetheglinMetheglins are also known as “spiced mead” and are a variety of mead that are flavored with different spices, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, or ginger (BYO Staff).
Melomel  -- Melomels are also known as “fruit mead” and are a variety of mead that are flavored with different fruits, such as raspberries, blackberries, or peaches (BYO Staff).
Braggot – Braggot is a combination of bear and mead.  To create a braggot,  a beer that isn’t hoppy, such as a brown ale,  is infused with fresh honey after the mashing process and before fermentation (Ackley). 
Wine – Wine is an alcoholic beverage that is made from the fermented juice of grapes and other fruit.  These wines can vary greatly in both flavor and appearance, ranging from a sweet white wine, to a heavily sour dark purple (Merriam-Webster).
Ale – Ale is a beer brewed using a rapid fermentation process. These beers are sweeter and fruitier in taste.  These beers have an infusion of malt along with the addition of hops (Merriam-Webster).
Lager – Lager is a type of beer that is brewed at lower temperatures and matured at a cool temperature. They are created using a bottom-fermenting process (Wikipedia). 

The definitions above all come from the Brew Glossary from the Brew Your Own website unless otherwise indicated (Brew Your Own). 

Works Cited

Ackley, David. Braggot Beer Recipe! (Extract & All Grain). 27 January 2014. March 2016. <>.

Brew Your Own. Brew Glossary. n.d. March 2016. <>.

BYO Staff. Fruit Cocktail: Make a Melomel. 2000. March 2016. <>.

—. Make a Spiced Metheglin. November 2000. March 2016. <>.

Eddings, Bryce. What is malted barley? 2016. March 2016. <>.

McGlynn, William. Guidelines for the Use of Chlorine Bleach as a Sanitizer in Food Processing Operations. n.d. April 2016. <>.

Merriam-Webster. Dictionary. n.d. March 2016. <>.

Midwest Supplies. Potassium Metabisulfite. 2016. March 2016. <>.

Palmer, John. Sanitizing Your Equipment. 2006. March 2016. <>.

The Regents of the University of California, Davis. Citric Acid. 18 August 2014. March 2016. <>.

Wikipedia. Immersion chiller. September 2014. March 2016. <>.

—. Lager. 2016. March 2016. <>.

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