For the past few months, João Azevedo has been sharing his beer knowledge with us at the ShiftForward Beer Experience. It started out as your regular “bring a few nice beers for us to share on Friday afternoons every once in a while” but it quickly escalated to a refined guide to ales, lagers et al. At one point, we were scheduling visits to the biggest Portuguese brewery, discussing hops, and rating bottles at untappd.
So it’s no wonder it ended up like this. João had already brewed beer at home so he knew how to do it, and the rest of us were super excited about stirring a cauldron. Not an actual cauldron, we take hygiene seriously, but you get the gist.
So, a few weeks ago, we chose to brew our own Belgian Golden Ale. It was the most highly rated in our skill, taste and coolness tests (we’re looking at you, industrial lagers).
Sadly, we were so pumped up by the fact that we were brewing our own beer we forgot to document the process properly. We’re kind of sorry about that but, then again, who’s got time for a million photos when you’re brewing beer?
So, we started by heating up water, then adding pilsner malt and bringing it to 63ºC for 90 minutes.
After that, we took away the malt and brought the whole thing to a boil. 30 minutes later, we added Styrian Goldings hops and 30 minutes after that Saaz hops (do we look like the kind of people who only use one type of hops? Please). Then, 15 minutes later, we added candi sugar and left it to boil for 15 more minutes.
When we were done with all of this, we transferred the wort (an unfortunate name for a beautiful concoction) to a fermenter (a.k.a. a glorified bucket with two holes in it). We added the yeast. We closed it and started dancing around it to propitiate the fermentation process.
Then we had to let it rest for two weeks, in a not-too-bright, not-too-hot, not-too-cold place, so it could ferment properly. The sugar from the malt turned into alcohol and CO2 so the fermenter kept bubbling, which was clearly a good omen.
99 Bottles of Beer on a Desk
Two weeks went by and the measures we kept making with an hydrometer indicated everything was going as expected. It was now time to bottle the beer.
Before bottling it, you have to add gas to beer. So the first thing we did was to once again add sugar to the beer. Since now the beer was about to be bottled, the CO2 wouldn’t leave the bottle and that, kid, is how gas happens in beverages. So we boiled a little bit of water, added sugar, and then added it to the room-temp beer.
On to the bottling process. To bottle beer, you first need to sanitize the whole thing. Not only the bottles but also the hose you use to pump the thing from the fermenter and, obviously, the caps.
After sanitizing, you have to bottle the beer ASAP. We shot a video for this to serve as testimony of the smooth, holistic way work happens at ShiftForward.
Vanessa was sanitizing the bottles and caps, immediately passing them to João to bottle the beer and then back to Vanessa, who gives them to André Silva to cap. Then, André Cardoso does the Quality Control.
To cap, you use this device inexplicably called “capper”. It looks like the kind of thing that can double as a nose-chopper, but it’s actually pretty harmless.
So, this is the story of a beer. We haven’t tried it yet because it needs to mature for two more weeks but the whole thing was actually really fun, so that’s not really the point right now. On the other hand, we used precision instruments and top-notch ingredients which we hope will be enough to compensate for poor manpower.
Also, props to Pedro Borges for lending us the cauldron we needed for this adventure. We’ll be back as soon as we try it.