Chisholm Trail Cervesas
The Process
By:
Jesse and Alexandra Chisholm


"Remember, cleanliness is next to essential!"
-- Reverend Frank Benz, on making homemade wine
Preparations
 
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Keep doing the above four steps until there is nothing left in the kitchen that needs cleaning.
 
Clean all your beer making equipment.
Put your 30 quart boiling pot on the stove with 5 gallons of water.
Bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat so it is just simmering.
Let it boil for a few minutes. This is to make sure the water is sterilized.
Turn off the heat. Add all the malt extract syrup (and honey if applicable). Turn the heat back on. (it takes a while to pour the malt syrup in, if you left the heat on some of it might burn at the bottom of the pot before you could get it all stirred in)
Stir this mix as it returns to a boil. You should have the syrup all dissolved by the time it comes to a boil.
Turn the heat down so it is just boiling, but won't boil over if you look away for a moment.
(if you got a thermometer from the beer store, life is a little easier here. Put the heat on high until the temperature gets to about 180F. Turn it down a bit until it gets to about 190F. It should be simmering, or just about to at that temperature. It won't get all the way to 212F where pure water boils at sea-level, all that syrup pulls the boiling point down a bit.)
Once it is boiling nicely, add initial hops pellets (amount in recipe). You can add them directly to the boil (or you can put them in a hops bag first)
Let this boil for one hour. Check back frequently to keep it stirred, and to make sure it isn't boiling over.
After the hour of boiling, add the final hops pellets (amount in recipe).
Let it boil for ten more minutes. then turn off the heat.
If you decided to use a hops-bag for the hops pellets, you can now take all the hops out. Be careful, the water is hot. The hops mush in hot. The hops-bag is hot. Let the bag drain as much as you can, that liquid is your beer!
Cover the boil pot and set it aside to cool.
(If you sprung for a rapid cooling system, go ahead and use it)
Sterilize your fermenting container. Usually this will be with IODAPHORE (an iodine based product available at the beer/wine supply store), but you can use other methods.
Transfer the liquid portion of the boil to the primary fermenter. This liquid is called the wort (pronounced "wurt").
A little bit of hops pellets getting in won't hurt, but what you are after is the clearest looking part of the liquid.
The other stuff in the sediment in your boil (besides hops) is called trube and is made of some proteins that were in the syrup. A little won't hurt, but your beer will taste better if you don't let this get into your primary fermentor.
Put the air lock on the fermenter and let it continue cooling. The air lock stops any foreign air-born bacteria from getting into your brew.
When the temperature drops to about 70 or 75, you can put in the yeast. White Labs yeast comes as a liquid. Just shake it up and dump the vial contents into the primary fermenter.
Put a blow tube from your fermenter to a bucket of sterile water.
(In the early stages of fermenting, foam forms and can clog the regular air-lock. I put a large sterile tube going into a small bucket of sterile water. If any foam makes it up through the tube, it is caught by the bucket and doesn't make a mess. The tube and the bucket of water also act like an airlock so nothing gets back up into the fermentor.)
Clean the beer making equipment you just finished using.
 
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Keep doing the above four steps until there is nothing left in the kitchen that needs cleaning.

You do want permission to do this again don't you? Then leave a clean kitchen for the next person to use!
 
When the first foam over is done, usually 24-48 hours, you can remove the blow over tube and install a regular air-lock.
If you think you got too much trube in your wort when you first siphoned it from your boil pot to your fermentor, you can siphon it to a second fermentor at this point, again trying to only siphon off the liquid part and leave any sediment behind. Install a regular air-lock.
Clean the beer making equipment you just finished using.
 
Waiting
Let it ferment until it quits. Depending on the time of year and the air temperature, this could be from one to three weeks.
Keep it out of the direct sunlight. Try to keep it in the 55 - 65 temperature range.
 
Bottling
When it has finally finished, it is time to bottle.
I usually consider it "Done!" when it takes more than 10 minutes for a new bubble to form.
The longer you let it ferment the more alcoholic the final brew will be.
The sooner you bottle it the sweeter the final brew will be.
So you can make a trade off to your liking. Sweeter and Milder or Dryer and Stronger.
 
Do the putting away and cleaning routine so you have a clean kitchen to work in.
 
Sterilize a syphoning tube, the bottling bucket, and all your bottles.
Get a sauce pan and boil a couple of cups of water to dissolve the bottling sugar.
Put the sugar-water in the bottling bucket.
Put the flavoring (if applicable) in the bottling bucket.
Syphon the liquid portion of your beer into the bottling bucket. Try to not let any sediment through.
Fill and cap the bottles.
Dry them off and store them in a cool dark corner.
Clean the beer making equipment you just finished using.
 
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Put away all the clean dishes
Clean all the dirty dishes
Keep doing the above four steps until there is nothing left in the kitchen that needs cleaning.

I harp on this cleaning thing, I know, but I like making beer and I don't want anyone to tell me I'm so messy that I can't be allowed to do it anymore.
 
 
Waiting
After four weeks, try a bottle to see how you did.
If it isn't carbonated enough, wait another week and try again. How long this takes is up to the yeast.
When it is the way you like it, put the remaining bottles in the fridge.
 
Sometimes you'll get a brew that has a harshness or flavor or odor you don't quite like. You have two choices: (a) dump it out and start over, (b) store it for another couple of months and hope it mellows. I recommend choice (b), if it never works out you can always choose (a) later.
Home brewed beer still has a few yeastie beasties swimming around in the bottle. That's what makes the carbonation happen. This means that the bottle is a living, evolving biological soup. Given time, the remaining yeast will alter the chemical makeup of the brew. The more alcoholic the brew, and the more carbonated the bottle, the slower they work.
 
The Next Step
Start all over again, except this time, sip your own brew as you work.


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