When we lived in San Jose, Jeff would spend every other Saturday in the kitchen making batches of home brew. As his beer making skills improved, his collection of equipment grew and started to find new homes in other rooms of the house. Before our house had a chance to turn into a full-blown speakeasy with people coming in and out for kegs and growlers of home brew, we moved to Singapore and sold all of the equipment to one of Jeff's friends.
Jeff couldn't go without his favorite past time for very long, and eventually found Home Brew, a small business in Singapore selling home brew equipment and ingredients. The accumulation of beer making equipment is happening again, with the corners of our dining room slowly being filled with boxes of glass bottles and a mash tun (a stainless steel container used in the beer making process). The sweet smell of boiling wort has become a semi-monthly Saturday tradition once more.
We recently attended an all grain beer making class held by head brewer and owner of Red Dot Brewery, Ernest Ng. The class covered the basics of all grain brewing, as well as some of the chemistry involved and how to correct potential brewing mistakes. Even Jeff, the experienced home brewer, learned a thing or two. Below, we break down the process involved in making a batch of beer from basic ingredients.
First, we smelled and tasted the basic ingredients that go into beer: hops, malted grains, water, and yeast.
Next, we crushed the malted grains in a grain crusher that was powered by an old drill. It's much easier than doing it by hand (we've tried). The crushed grains were then added to hot water in a mash tun at a carefully calculated temperature. The grains need to steep in the mash tun for one hour to extract all the sugars for fermentation. This is called mashing.
Mashing results in sweet wort, which is boiled for another hour. During this hour, hops are added at different intervals, depending on the desired flavor and bitterness.
After the 60 minute boil is finished and hops have been added, the wort is then quickly chilled and transferred to a container called a fermenter. In this photo, the people helping the class used a pump system to push the wort through an ice bath into a fermenter. When we brew, we use something called a copper coil wort chiller. Yeast is added to the wort and left to ferment (fermentation takes less time in higher temperatures). After all that is done, you've got yourself some beer. Now you just need to carbonate it.
After class, Ernest showed us around his brewery, which he designed himself. Jeff and Ernest talked for a long time about what it takes to make a brewery successful. Owning a brewery is one of Jeff's dreams.