Malt extract is a pre-made product produced by the major malthouses for homebrewers and small breweries. It comes in two varieties, malt extract syrup and dried malt extract. The malt house does the tricky part of taking malted grain and producing a sweet liquid (wort) for you. In case you're wondering what this process is, I haven't talked about it yet, but it's coming up soon. This wort is then concentrated down to a syrup that is 80% solids and is the consistency of carmel topping for ice cream. The dried malt extract is simply spray dried into a powdered form. Personally I perfer the malt syrup, it's a bit cheaper and easier to use. The decision of which to use is ultimately up to you the brewmaster, because the two extracts are interchangeable. Just remember to account for the 20% water in extract syrups.
**REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE WORRY CONSTANTLY ABOUT SANITATION!
This is most important after you are done boiling and you've chilled the wort. From that point on anything coming in contact with the beer should be sanitary.
So somewhere on this page I have put a picture of the brewing process. I'll apologize in advance for the messy drawings. There's a reason I'm a biochemist and not an artist.
In figure 1 you'll find that I've put 6 gallons of purified water into my stainless steel brew kettle. I apply heat with the burner until I reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, metric junkies can consult their Ti-85 or equivalent.
At this point I will remove my kettle from the heat (not pictured) and stir in my malt extract. It is important to take your kettle off the heat for this step and I'm kicking myself for drawing it incorrectly in figure 2. If you leave the kettle on the heat source you risk burning some of the malt extract to the bottom of the kettle and that makes for some funky beer.
Once the malt extract has been stirred into solution place the kettle back on the burner and heat to a boil. Make sure to keep an eye on it, because if you boil to vigorously in the beginning you'll experience "boil over", where the wort bubbles up really fast and spills over onto the floor creating a sticky mess. For this reason I recommend brewing in a garage where you can hose the place down when your done. Otherwise, be very careful.
Now moving on to figure 3. Once you're up to a boil, you add your bittering hops in a mesh bag. Its very similar to adding a tea bag to hot water, but on a 5 gallon scale. These hops will boil for at least 60 minutes total so that the alpha acids can isomerize (think rotation about a double C-C bond) and become water soluble.
After 30 minutes of boiling (figure 4) add your wort chiller to the mixture but don't attach it to the hose or turn it on. You do this to sanitize the chiller. Thirty minutes in boiling liquid will kill any bacteria or wild yeast that might be handing out on the surface of the chiller.
After 45 minutes of total boil time (figure 5) add a second mesh bag with your flavor hops. These hops will add tastes other than bitterness to your beer. The chemical components that add this characteristic are fairly volatile and thats why we add them in the last 15 minutes of the boil.
Once you've reached 60 minutes of boil time turn off the burner and remove the bittering hops. Add your aroma hops (these add that hop scent to the beer) and allow it to stand for 2-5 minutes. You're now at figure 7, and remove both the flavor and aroma hop bags. Connect the wort chiller to your house water supply and turn it on slowly. Cover your kettle with the lid and stir the wort occasionally with your sanitized spoon. As a hint, you've sanitized the spoon in the boiling wort for 60 minutes while you were stirring. Just make sure not to remove it yet and you'll be ok.
Once the wort is chilled to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (figure 8) pour the cooled wort into your sanitized 5 gallon bucket. Its ok for it to get all foamy, you need the wort to aerate slightly for the yeast to grow rapidly and out compete any contaminants in the beginning. Pitch (pour) your yeast starter into the wort and stir it up until its evenly mixed. Cover with a lid and airlock, allow to ferment for 5 days at 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is your primary fermentation. I'll be posting tomorrow about what you do next.
A note on sanitation. I use chlorine water to sanitize my brewery. Basically you take tap water and add 1 tsp household bleach per 5 gallons of water. Don't over do it, or your entire setup will smell like bleach and taste awful. At this concentration of bleach though it is not dangerous to you, although be careful. The bleach concentration is lower than that of an average swimming pool, just for a point of reference. Now, when your sanitizing something in bleach water, make sure to rinse it off thoroughly before it comes in contact with your beer. Chlorine will add bad off-flavors to your product! I'm a bit anal and wash all my stuff with tap water twice followed by a rinse with purified water (there's a bit of chlorine and fluoride in tap water).
Well, till next time. Happy brewing!