Brad McEnaney has a hobby most men would love -- he home-brews his own beer.
It makes him part chemist, part connoisseur.
“It’s a very light beer. Like 4 to 5 percent alcohol when it’s done. It has a lime taste at the end. Kind of a biscuity flavor,” said McEnaney.
The bulk of his home-brew process takes about four hours -- then the batch sits for couple of weeks.
“What you start with basically when you make a beer is you got your grain, it’s two row malt, white malt and victory malt so this is actually a small batch being made right now, so it’s a little malt extract and you put the yeast in, it starts eating it and it multiplies and when you put in your beer it’s all ready to go,” said McEnaney.
The tools McEnaney uses might be similar to what you used in your high school science class. Hydrometers, PH strips, and thermometers are all necessary pieces. The preparation is very involved.
“There’s a lot of little steps. There are a lot of little things that you make sure you do. You got to make sure that you clean everything. Everything has to be sanitized. I mean you have to make sure you’re at certain temperatures before you add the yeast before you oxidize the wart. The boil takes an hour, different hoppings. So, it’s a good four-hour process to make one batch," said McEnaney.
And if you mess it up? "You can have a really, really, really skunked beer,” said McEnaney.
You start the home-brew by putting your grains in a cooler and slowly pouring in boiling water. This starts to release sugars from the grain. You’ll let the water bake the grain for an hour.
Afterward you’ll drain out a pitcher worth of liquid using the drain spout at the bottom of the cooler. This allows the grain bed to settle inside.
“We’re just trying to separate liquid from the grain. Once it settles, you know, it will help become a natural filter to clear it up,” said McEnaney.
Mastering the timing and temperatures will let you create any flavor you want.
“The cool thing about doing this is, you know, you go to a store and you can find what you want, but you know they don’t make every kind of beer in the world. So, you say, 'I want a beer with a little more lime in it. I want a beer that has this in it.' You can make it. Every time you taste a beer now as you brew more and more you kind of start picking out what they did. Sitting there going, 'what, is that sugar or is it yeast doing that?'” said McEnaney.
The next step is what’s called “batch sparging” -- stirring in more boiling water to collect residual sugars. You collect the first runnings one more time and then pour the bulk into a pot that you’ll then boil for an hour.
Then it’s on to flavor. You’ll add hops for bitterness, taste and aroma. You’ll time all three -- one will go in for the full hour, another with 15 minutes left and the third with five minutes left.
If the mix starts to foam and boil over just spray filtered water on the foam to settle it.
When the hour is up you’ll have to cool the beer to 80 degrees as fast as possible.
To pull this off McEnaney has MacGyvered a cooling system out of two copper coils, a garden hose and a bucket of ice water.
Water from the garden hose flows through the first copper coil in the bucket of ice. The water is naturally cooled by the ice and flows through a single tube to the second coil that is placed in the boiling liquid.
Once it’s cooled you’ll add the yeast and then seal up the mixture. A majority of the sugars will ferment out in roughly three days. The batch needs to age for a couple of weeks before you can tap it and enjoy your home-brew summer beer.
Watch McEnaney take you through the whole process in the above video. Click here for more information on brewing beer at home.