Cooling and Pitching

The aim here is to cool the wort as soon as possible to avoid infection. Insert your immersion wort chiller and connect one end to the cold water tap and the other to the nearest drain, and switch on the water. In case you were wondering, in the picture below the dog's tennis ball in the background is an optional extra...

This is a wet, leaky business so I always perform this part of the operation outside. Continue washing up and tidying the mess you've made while the wort cools. Your wort needs to cool to be within the recommended temperature range for pitching Safale S-04, which is 17-22°C, as stated on the packet. It’s at this point when you take your sample if you’re going to take a hydrometer reading. This will be your figure of original gravity, or OG.

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Some brewers never bother to rehydrate the yeast and just sprinkle it on to the beer straight from the packet. Others hydrate the yeast by using boiled water which has cooled to the temperature range mentioned in the above paragraph (you put the kettle on while waiting for the wort to come to the boil, remember?), fill a sterilised mug half full of water and stir in the yeast. In about 15 minutes the yeast will have ‘risen’ and be ready to pitch into our wort.

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Pitching the yeast is simple. The books say "pitch in aerated wort". Many brewers buy equipment which pumps air into wort but this is not necessary. Instead, take an empty sterilised fermentation bin and pour half of the wort into it, from chest height - this will produce lots of foam and more than enough aeration! Add the yeast into the foamy half of the wort along with a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient, then pour the rest of the wort on top and put the lid on as soon as possible, not forgetting to insert your airlock.

Carefully carry the bin into a room which doesn't suffer from much fluctuation of temperature and which is normally room temperature, taking care not to position your heater tray too close to any heat source such as a central heating radiator. Placing a newspaper or two underneath the heater tray is a good idea to catch any ooze if you have an eruption caused by an over active yeast. If it's going to be a cold night and your heating will be off don't forget to switch on your heat tray and remember to switch it off the following day when the room warms up. For particularly cold nights you could always switch on the heat tray then throw an old blanket or coat over your fermentation bin.

Finally, finish off putting everything away and tidying up. Congratulations, you've just completed your first all grain brewing session! Pour yourself a beer and put your feet up - you've earned it! And while you're relaxing why not go and have a look at the Fermentation page...

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