Throughout my schooling and experience I have learned that the most efficient way to manage the task at hand is to get everything you need prepared before you start. In the kitchen this is called mise en place.
Let me start by saying when brewing, you don’t make beer, you make wort. Wort is unfermented beer. It’s a sweet infusion of ground malt and/or other grains. After the wort is prepared it is transfered into a fermenter and yeast is added. That’s how beer is created!
Water and sanitation are the most important parts to a successful brew. 5.5 gallons of filtered water through a pur filtration system with the sanitizer solution on stand by. I started by gathering all the ingredients, the hops and malts and syrup were all waiting their turn to take the plunge. I was prepared and eager!
The first step is steeping the malts and grains. By pouring the malts and grain into a mesh bag and dipping it like a tea bag. After 20 mins I remove the mesh bag and bring it to a boil before adding the malt syrup.
But this is where I ran into a problem.
The stove top wouldn’t work. It’s an electric stove with a flat surface, not large enough to heat the brew evenly. The kettle didn’t like that at all. It was shaking and wobbling like it was as nervous as I was. Being the problem solver my experience has taught me to be I thought of a solution, I have a grill with a burner attached to it. Nothing be a minor set back. Right?
I threw my swim trunks on, took my mix to the grill and thought disaster averted. I can take a dip in the pool.A lovely day of making wort and taking advantage of the South Florida lifestyle. But the kettle was too big and it wouldn’t sit on the burner correctly. It only reached 180 degrees and I needed it to reach 212 degrees to boil. I fired up the grill and moved the brew onto it but without direct contact from the flame it still wouldn’t reach its boiling point. Unlike me who’s frustration was at it peak.
After 3 and a half hours and an attempt to add the syrup my patience ran out. I’d failed. I didn’t have a sufficient heating source and I’d wasted the grains and malts.
What went wrong?
I was so eager to accomplish this first step and get the fermentation started that I didn’t think to check all my boxes. I hadn’t accomplished my mise en place. I never checked my heating sources. I started out with only the end result in my mind. I saw my buddies all gathered around clinging the bottles cheering and high fiving it up. I’d failed. I felt defeated and stupid. I thought I was prepared and I wasn’t. I might have spent a little time and money but I gained a new outlook on this journey. I’d gained experience and knowledge from this. It taught me to go back to my basics, not to over look the details.
To slow down and think every step through. Check once twice and three times.
Focusing on the end-game and visualizing the final result is the big picture it just can’t be at the expense of the details needed in the present moment.
So, where to go from here you’re asking? My next step is to purchase a burner to fit my kettle and new beer kit recipe. Something I really want to make. The Belgium Triple!