The Blog for Women Who Brew Beer

The Wort

Posted by Maggie on April 29, 2010

Wort is a mixture of water, specialty grain extract, malt extract, and hops.  I love the smell.  It seems to reach some primitive part of my brain.  I imagine women over thousands of years stirring up their wort over a hot fire or stove.  It smells nutritious and delicious.   I find that I keep leaning my head over the pot to get a good whiff of the steam.  Since the wort needs to boil for an hour, the whole house (if you live in a not-too-big house) starts to smell like the wort.

Cooling the wort is an important process.  You can’t add the yeast if the the wort is too hot – ideally you want 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, you don’t want any wild yeast or bacteria to get into the wort while it is cooling.  The hot wort will kill any invaders but once it is cooled it is susceptible to contamination.

The method I prefer is to place the pot of wort in a bowl of ice water.   I then stir the wort for about five minutes to help cool it.  Then I stop any stirring so that the hops sludge can settle to the bottom of the wort.  I keep adding cold water to the bowl.  It is easiest to do this if you have a large sink and can just pour the water directly from the faucet.  I am careful not to drop anything into the wort such as spittle.

If I am making 3 gallons of beer and have 1.5 gallons of wort, once the temperature has cooled to 130 degrees I can pour the wort into the carboy and add another 1.5 gallons of cold water to end up with a good temperature for the yeast.


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