Zombie Apocalypse Wheat Beer: Part 1

Before I launch into the first part of my home brewing experience, you are probably wondering about the name we chose for our beer. Well over a year ago I was invited to attend the factious Zombie Apocalypse on Facebook, you know since the world is ending tomorrow. Then when Michael and I started dating, I noticed he was attending too! Since this could be our only sustenance while we fend off the zombies, it seemed fitting.
Home tiki bar one day? source
Awhile ago Michael and I discussed what we wanted to do with our back bonus room and the idea of putting a bar or a kegerator came up. That got me to thinking about brewing our own beer. So I asked Michael for a home brew kit for Christmas. He loved the idea and instantly started researching it.
It takes about a month to make beer, so  we got my present early. Michael found a wine and beer making store in Campbell called Fermentation Solution. We went last Monday and asked a bunch of questions. The guy who helped us (I don’t think we ever caught his name) was very friendly and super informative. He recommended the Starter Beer Making Kit and one of their Recipe Ingredient Kits.  We discussed it some more then I came back on Friday and bought it.
I was so excited! Then I read the instructions that came with the recipe kit and realized our first issue. The beer takes 7-12 days to ferment. We were leaving in a week to spend Christmas with my family. That meant we either started it right then and hoped it would be ready before we left, or wait until we got back to make it. When Michael got home I told him the issue and he said let’s just go for it. He is coming back few days before me so if it wasn’t ready in a week, he would bottle when he got back at the 12 day mark. So I followed the recipe instructions as best I could.
First,  I essentially made tea from grain. I put wheat malt and row malt  in a bag and steeped it in very warm water.
Grain bag, steeping in 164 degree water.
Then I realize our second issue. We had a 3 gallon pot of water to steep the grain, but we need another pot to serve as our brew kettle—and it needed to be at least 5 gallons. So we quickly ran to Target and bought another pot.
In our new pot, we brought 2.75 gallons of water to boil…which took FOREVER!
Bringing 2.75 gallons of water to boil while the grain steeps.
Then I added the “tea” to the pot and realized our third issue. The pot was completely full now and we still need to add 3 lbs of liquid wheat malt. Rather than pour off some of the liquid to make room and risk loosing the flavor, we decided to boil off about 1 inch of it instead. This once again took FOREVER.
Too full to add the liquid malt…hmm…

I finally added the liquid malt and brought the kettle back up to boil. Then I added the bag of hops and then let it boil away for an hour.

Our house was very humid and sugary smelling after all the boiling.
That is when Michael realized the fourth issue. We needed to add more cold water before it ferments. He bought 5 gallons of purified water, but we boiled off a gallon or more of it already. Luckily the kit comes with dechlorination tablets so we dechlorinated water from our fridge.
Then we removed the hops bag and siphoned the beer into the fermenter while trying not to get the trub (the layer of stuff on the bottom).
Never thought learning how to siphon water troughs back
in 4H would come in handy one day
Next we added enough the dechlorinated water to bring it up to 5.25 gallons. Then I rehydrated the yeast packet in warm water and added it to the fermenter.
5.25 gallon of sugary yeast water.
Then Michael put the lid on and stuck in the airlock.
Ready to ferment!
It should be kept in a cool (between 62 and 72 dergees) and dark place during fermentation, so Michael decided on the garage.
The instructions said it should start fermenting within 12-24 hours. I check it in the morning before I left for work and there were no bubbles in the airlock. But it had only been 12 hours at the point so I was not concerned. That night after dinner I check it again….still nothing. But there was a residue visible on the side of the fermenter as if something was happening so I still was not too concerned. The temperature in the garage was 60 degrees so I figured it was just taking longer because it was chilly.
On Tuesday, there was still nothing in the airlock and the temperate was 56 degrees in the garage. I was worried fermentation never started or stalled, so I had Michael bring it inside.
It warmed up to just barely 62 degrees in the living room by the next day, but I was still concerned. After some research online, I decided that it was probably okay since it smelled like yeast. But I wanted to open it just to be sure. There was a lovely yeast cake right on the top, just like all the photos I saw online. I just chalked it up to being slow because it was too cold in the garage. On the plus side, there is no way it will be ready soon so we do not have to frantically bottle it before we leave. It can probably wait until I come home now.
The next step will be bottling and waiting for it to carbonate. So Part 2 will follow soon.

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