I’d like to introduce the Home Brew Recipe of the Month, a new feature brought to you in conjunction between Brewed For Thought and Midwest Supplies. Each Month we’ll share our experiences with a Midwest Supplies Homebrew Kit and let you know what we think. Behind the brew paddle will be Brewed For Thought contributor Dan Thompson. I hope you enjoy this latest addition to the Brewed For Thought site.
Recently my father and I had a chance to check out the Hop Head Double IPA kit from Midwest Supplies. We received the all grain version of this kit, which comes with pre-milled grains, hops, priming sugar, and yeast; aside from water, everything ingredient necessary to make beer is provided. Along with the ingredients are step by step instructions for the kit.
(An Extract based version of this kit is also available from Midwest Supplies)
The following is the grain bill that makes up the majority of the package:
- 14 lbs. Domestic 2-Row barley malt
- 4 oz. Aromatic
- 12 oz. Caramel 60L
The hops called for by the recipe are exciting, they’re definitely in line with the description of the brew, promises of a screaming, citrusy double IPA. the hops were in pellet form and packaged in vacuum sealed bags, aside from the Crystal hops which were whole, and used for dry hopping.
- 8 oz. Victory
- 1 oz. Chinook
- 1 oz. Cascade
- 1 oz. Centennial
- 1 oz. Crystal
- 2 oz. whole hops
I can’t speak for the quality of the pellets just yet, but the whole hops were nicely packaged, and survived the trip without incident. The whole hops themselves are of high quality, and surprisingly fresh.
We also opted for a Wyeast Smack Pack direct pitch activator rather than use liquid yeast, or dry yeast.The package states is holds a minimum of 100 billion yeast cells, which I could definitely believe. The package arrived slightly puffy, likely due to the temperature change in transit or movement in traveling. I was only slightly concerned to begin with, as the internal yeast nutrient had not yet been broken. I smack the bag, and several hours later, the bag was ready to go. The smack definitely did the trick, and allayed any concerns I had with the yeast.
The instructions are easy to follow, and hold specific information concerning the Hop Head kit, which is a nice touch considering other kits will sometimes include very brief instruction on all grain brewing, if at all. This, on the other hand, while not novel length, take up the entirety of both front and back of the page.
The instructions are broken up into 7 sections, each section providing steps necessary to brew the beer, as well as tips and general information on the craft. Midwest even has an advice line available for folks who are stuck, and while we didn’t utilize it, hey – it might come in handy, because remember that time you ruined that batch of beer because you fudged a step? Me too.
The first two steps are “Inspection and Yeast Evaluation”, and “Cleaning and Sanitation”, which cover general practice on how to ensure your wort doesn’t get infected or develop off flavors. We use Star San, which is an acid based cleaner that doesn’t require rinsing. I was happy to see that this was one of the recommended cleaners, as I’ve found it to be stellar, and removes one extra step from what can already be a length process.
The next step is “The Mash (Single Infusion)”. Here we prepare the strike water, which is 1q per lb of grain, and the instructions suggest heating the water to 10-18 degrees above the target temp, to allow for loss of heat due to transfer of equipment and into the grain.
We heated out water to 165, and during the mash we hit 150 degrees, but corrected to 152 by boiling extra water and adding to the mash. We mashed at 152 degrees for 60 minutes, and tasted the wort at the end of the hour; it was sweet, and time to proceed.
The next step, “The Sparge”, we used a neat piece of equipment called the blichmann autosparge. It’s a device that controls the level of water based on the flow of water through the grain bed. We sparged the wort for 60 minutes, and proceeded to the next step, “The Boil”.
For this step we used an outdoor propane cooker. We quickly brought out wort to a boil, and began adding the bittering hops.
The hop schedule is as follows:
- 1 oz Chinook bittering hops and boil for 60 minutes for optimal hop
- After 15 minutes add ½ oz Cascade hops (45 min).
- Wait 15 more minutes and add ½ oz Centennial hops (30 min).
- After 10 more minutes add the other ½ oz Cascade hops (20 min.)
- Wait 10 minutes then add the other ½ oz Centennial hops (10 min).
- After 5 minutes add 1 oz Crystal hops (5 min) and boil for the last 5 minutes and take off the burner.
We used a muslin sock to contain the hops. Some folks toss in the hops whole, but we have found clarity to suffer. For extra clarity, we used whirlfloc, a tasteless fining agent, 5 minutes before flame out. We cooled the wort to 70 degrees, and brought it inside to begin the last step of the brewing process, “Fermentation”.
We pitched the yeast from the Smack Pack while the temperature still read 70. We used a glass 7 gallon carboy for primary fermentation, and a 5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. At the end of the brewing, we got slightly less than 5 gallons, but only by a hair. All in all, it was a very successful brew, due in large part to the quality of the kit and included instructions and helpful tips provided.
As the beer ferments I’ll update the review during the dry hopping stage, the kegging stage, and finally the tasting portion.