I started brewing in the mid 70's when life in the home brewery was much simpler - three pounds of malt extract, three pounds of corn sugar, five gallons of water, and a pack of dry lager yeast. I still have my copy of Leigh P. Beadle's Brew It Yourself which was written in 1971 and reprinted in 1973. I stopped brewing in the early 80's when my job with a large aerospace company began to require a lot of travel and my schedule became unpredictable. When I retired in 2000 getting back into brewing was one of my priorities but I didn't get started until late 2003, soon after my son-in-law brought me a sample of his homebrew. One taste and I was hooked! The new materials and processes produced real beer! More photos in the Gallery.
I use what is called a Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS). Basically, a measured amount of heated water is circulated through a bed of grain to extract the sugars. The water/sugar mixture is drawn off the bottom of the mash container (called a "tun"), routed through a heater and returned to the top, starting the cycle all over again. The time and temperature over which this process continues differs by recipe but is usually somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes and 152 to 156 degrees Fahrenheit.
See the annotated photo to the left for the location of the various components.
My "brew day" actually starts the night before. I check the recipe against my inventory to make sure I have all the needed material. The RIMS heating chamber and circulating pump are thoroughly cleaned. The grain bill for the recipe to be brewed, usually about 11 pounds for a 5 gallon batch,