Section 3

Brewing All-Grain Beer

Welcome to the third section of How To Brew Your First Beer. Here is where we remove the training wheels and do everything from scratch. All of the world's classic beers are produced using malted grain and the methods which I am now going to teach you. The all-grain brewing method allows you the most flexibility in designing and producing an individual wort. Once you have mastered these basic techniques, you will be able to walk into any beer store or pub, select any beer (with the possible exception of the Belgian Lambics), and say with confidence, "I can brew this." The fundamental techniques and related science will be explained in the following chapters.

Using all-grain brewing can be like driving a car. You can get in, turn the key and off you go; using it to go from point A to point B without much thought about it. Or you can know what's under the hood - knowing that by checking the oil, changing the spark plugs and listening for clanking noises that there are things you can do to make that car work more efficiently for you. Without getting into internal combustion theory, I am going to teach you what is under the hood of your mash. You may not use all of this information (Lord knows I haven't changed my oil in over a year), but at least you will have a good understanding of what is available to you.

In Chapter 14 - How the Mash Works, I will explain how different temperatures activate different malt enzymes and how these enzymes convert the malt starches into fermentable sugars. Each temperature rest and its related enzyme groups will be described with respect to the effects on the composition of the wort.

The difference between a good brewer and a great brewer is their ability to control the brewing process. The pH of the mash affects enzyme activity as well as the flavor of the wort. In Chapter 15 - Understanding the Mash pH, we will discuss how the malts and the brewing water combine to determine the pH of the mash. Water chemistry will be explained by looking at a city water report and showing you how to use such a report customize your mash. The chemistry of the brewing water can be adjusted through the use of brewing salts to insure proper mash conditions for best performance of the enzymes discussed in the preceding chapter.

In Chapter 16 - The Methods of Mashing, we get down to brass tacks: I describe how to actually get the grain wet. There are two principal methods- infusion and decoction. Infusion is the simpler and I will discuss how to use it to brew your first all-grain beer. In Chapter 17 - Getting the Wort Out, the mechanics of lautering will be discussed so that you will have a better idea of how to conduct the lauter for the best extraction. Finally, in Chapter 18 - Your First All-Grain Batch, we do it, step by step. Sound interesting? You bet!