Food and Drink

How to brew beer, with a little help from Ass Clown Brewing Co.

I have never brewed beer before. I love beer. I love writing about it. Then,Lake Norman Magazine  partnered with Ass Clown Brewing Company to release a collaboration beer in honor of our October beer and wine issue.

Per our experience: How to make a Black Raspberry Mint IPA. 

(1) Start with the grains. Fill a mash tun with water of a specified temperature, then mill the grains (we’re using caramel malt, pearl malt for the base and midnight wheat for color) directly into the mash tun.

Here, one of the brewers, Scott Griffin, puts on a funny mask and mixes the mash with a paddle attached to an electric drill.

In the mixture are also rice holes – the shells of rice – as an additional filter.

During this process, enzymes break down the sugars in the mix. Fun fact: The mash tun stays insulated by using a cover made from the same material as NASCAR seats.

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Tips from Wes Midkiff, the other brewer for Ass Clown:

– Keep water at the right temperature.

– Make sure the grain weighs the same for each batch.

– Listen to good jams. Ass Clown opts for T-Swift Tuesday and Wu Tang Wednesday.

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(2) “Wait” 30 minutes for the process to complete. (Editor’s note: For Katie, “wait” = “drink beer.” This is the proper way to brew.)

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(3) Mix and recirculate the grains before sitting another 30 minutes.

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(4) The sparging process: Run hot water across the grain to stop the enzymes from breaking down more sugar, and to wash the remaining sugar off the grain. Pump the liquid from the mash tun into the kettle.

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(5) “Wait” for the kettle to fill and wait for it to boil.

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(6) Add the first wort hops. We used jarrylo hops.

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(6) “Wait” 30 minutes.

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(7) Add the second batch of hops, this time with mint added in.

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(8) “Wait” 30 minutes.

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(9) Add the last round of hops.

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(10) Cook the mixture for a bit. Whirlpool the kettle – a pump is attached to the kettle so that the wort creates a whirlpool in the kettle – for 20 minutes so that all the sediment settles in the center.

Let the wort chill to a specific temperature. For us, it was 70 degrees. The wort is chilled while being transferred to fermentation vessels.

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The collaboration beer we’re working on hasn’t gone past this process yet, but here’s what we have left to do:

– Pitch the yeast: Once the wort gets to 70 degrees, you add the yeast. This is what changes the wort to beer.

– Wait some more.

– Depending on the type of beer and different flavor additions, beer can sit anywhere from 10-14 days. When it reaches terminal gravity (when all fermentable sugars are converted), the brew is done.

– Individual tastes: Depending on what else is added to the beer, it could go through a second fermentation, especially if fruit is added. We’re adding raspberries, so there will be a second fermentation for our beer.

– After all the fermentation is complete, the beer is transferred to a bright tank for the addition of clarifying agents. The brew will also be chilled to 35 degrees for two to five days. This is also when the beer is carbonated.

– Keg or bottle the beer.

Beginning to end, the process can take up to three weeks depending on the ingredients and desired alcohol content.

Be the first to taste our collaboration on September 26 at Ass Clown Brewing Company! See you there.

Photos by Katie Coleman.

Katie Coleman
LunahZon Photography
Katie Coleman  is the editor of Lake Norman Magazine  and is still not used to being asked if she wants a beer at 9 a.m.—but she could get used to it. Follow her brewing on Instagram @katie_mcoleman .