Something different

Trying something new today, should be cool. Hope it’s cool. I’ve decided to make a beer for my friend Naomi’s wedding party. The wedding is out of town somewhere, so she’s having a party for friends in town – campout at the farm, bonfire, etc. I hope to show up with 5 gallons in her honor. I want something easy and accessible for the masses, so I’ve decided a clean marriage (wink) of wheat and honey is a good way to go. Wheat beer is a gateway for those who aren’t into beer, and weddings have long been tied to honey and mead (as in honey moon). I really want to get this right for my friend, so I’m trying the method I read about in the book Beer Craft. We normally do 5 gallons at a time, outside on a turkey fryer. Today, however, I’m scaling down to 1 gallon, and brewing inside on the stove. And thank God, because it’s 90 degrees out there! I can also afford to try two varieties side by side, so I’m brewing one version with white wheat, and if time permits, I’ll do a second batch with red wheat. Whichever one comes out better (hopefully both are good), I’ll have plenty of time to scale it up and make a full batch.

Mashing on the stovetop

Mashing on the stovetop

I started with a 2 gallon stockpot on the stove, with a mere 2 lbs of grain (for comparison, our most recent brew had about 14 lbs). This is steeping away somewhere between 152-155, depending on where I put the thermometer. About 50 minutes in, I’m finding it difficult to maintain 153, especially since the temp varies within the mash. I think I’m going to try and get different pots next time I do this. They recommend a 3 gallon & 2 gallon, so you can do a double-boiler type setup. Sadly, the handles on my 2 gallon stockpot stick out too far and it won’t fit in my 9 gallon kettle. I’m also discovering that the 9 gallon is just too big for my stove. The flame only hits a fraction of the base of this thing, and I think the extra metal ends up giving the heat a way to escape. In fact, I seem to have hit an equilibrium point. The thermometer keeps bouncing back and forth from 210.7 and 211.1. So close to boiling, but not quite there!

9 Gallons on the stovetop

9 gallon pot is just a bit big for the stove…

It is burbling a bit (that’s a word), so I decided that’s going to have to be enough for this round. Tossed in the hops, and I’m going to let some liquid boil off. Once it’s down to about 1.5 gallons, I’ll transfer to the 2 gallon pot and I can get this thing DONE. In the meantime, I’ll sit here and ponder how I might split up this yeast pack so I can have some yeast for tomorrow’s batch (assuming I can get better pots for tomorrow).

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