Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Self reliance

Jason and Christina on s/v hello world have a project here that everyone is going to want to try:  Manufacturing an essential boating fluid right on board!  Read on...
We like the places that are more wild and remote. Places that don't have internet connections, mechanics or Qwiki-marts. Those are the places that are more interesting to us. This means we have to learn to be self-reliant. We have to troubleshoot our own problems and carry with us what we need. To that end, we consulted the ultimate in self-reliant sailors - Ken and Susan on s/v Bint al Khamseen, recently back from a two-year tour of the Pacific Ocean including Mexico, the south Pacific islands, New Zealand and a 40-day passage back to North America.

Along with fashioning an AIS receiver from a bear tracking device and hand-crafting a new rudder for their self-steering gear while anchored in an atoll in the middle of the frickin' ocean, they happen to brew incredibly good beer. Not good as in: "wow, that's really good for home brew". More like: "holy crap, that's better than beer any beer I can buy".

Having experience with Canada's sky-high liquor prices, mediocre beer and lack of civilization from which to buy said beer, we decided brewing our own was a better option. Before we left Seattle, we invited Ken and Susan over to teach us their brewing witchcraft. With their gracious permission, we're re-posting their boat-friendly, hop-a-liscious beer recipe.

Ken transferring the wort into the fermenter.

Making Beer Aboard Sailboats

Once you’ve got all of your ingredients, it’s a matter of making the wort, letting that ferment for 3-5 days, then bottling and letting it sit for another 2 weeks. Then drink up!

Shopping list (for a 1.5-2 gallon batch)

3 lb amber dry malt
1.5 oz hops (pelletized)
½ package Nottingham or Ale yeast
¼ cup corn sugar
2.5 gallon collapsible water jug
vapor trap
One step cleaner
Growlers or plastic jugs (that can hold pressure) for bottling and caps

Making wort

In a large pot, bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil for a few minutes (kill off any microbes). We use our pressure cooker without pressurizing it.
Add 3 lbs. dry malt to simmering water
We use amber malt for a Manny’s knock off
Use light malt for a pilsner beer
Use dark malt for a more chewy beer (porter…)
If you use liquid malt, need 20% more than dry and less water
Stir while malt dissolves (don't scorch the bottom!)
Add 1oz of hops
Many varieties of hops...for a basic IPA use anything that starts with a C (Cascadia is a great one)...try different types for different types of beer
Use pelletized hops (non-pelletized versions make a total mess)
Simmer until hops are dissolved, turn off heat and add another ½ oz hops (for a good, hoppy aroma – skip if you don’t want it too hoppy)
Allow the wort to cool
You can do this quickly by submerging most of the pot in an ice bath or sea water

Decontaminate fermenting container

We use one step food grade cleaner – it’s a white powder that isn’t harmful if some is leftover
Mix one step cleaner with water and clean the heck out of the 2.5 gallon jug, funnel, vaport trap, nozzle, etc – anything that the beer will come in contact with while transferring or fermenting


In a 2.5 gallon jug, add ½ gallon of water
Add in the wort (get all of the hops!)
Add in another ½ gallon of water
Make sure this watered down wort mixture is at room temp (about 80F) before adding yeast
Add ½ of a 0.3oz pack of brewing yeast
We use Nottingham or an ale yeast
Different yeasts will change the flavor, so play around with them
Give the container a good shake to mix in yeast and oxygenate the wort, then burp out most of the leftover air
Add vapor trap and ensure air can escape
Leave the mixture to ferment until it stops bubbling (3-5 days depending on your temp – shorter in warm areas)


This amount of beer fits nicely into 3 ½ gallon growlers
Can also use old soda containers – anything that was built to take pressure (so don’t use water bottles because they’ll explode under the pressure)
Clean your bottles, funnel, etc with the TSP solution mentioned above
Mix a solution of ¼ cup corn sugar with ¾ cup sterile water (sterilize by boiling then allow to cool a bit)
Add this sugar solution directly to the fermenter and mix around a bit for equal distribution
Pour into bottles (leave an inch of head in each bottle)
We use a funnel and strainer to try to get rid of some of the sludge
Allow to sit in bottles for 2 weeks – then refrigerate and enjoy!

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