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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Wednesday Jul 31, 2013
UPDATE: Check out our guide to brewing beer on a boat.
What do you get when you combine some starches, Hilo rain water and yeast? Vog Head IPA! Vog is volcanic fog and it drifts around the islands Volcanoes depending on the wind direction. It's toxic and can be quite a pest sometimes. Since we were using rain water we thought it might make a subtle difference to the beer. Ok, we also thought it makes a great name for a beer. Vog is a very unique feature to the Big Island of Hawai'i and even the WikiPedia page for Vog features Hilo.
The past year or so we've been experimenting with brewing our own beer. We've learned a few things about it and how to do it best on the boat. Now we've refined our technique and upped the brew size to almost 4 gallons.
In this picture you'll see our white fermentation bucket (food grade) with a spigot and a vapor lock. Then we have our 16qt. stainless pot for brewing. And since we are beer snobs, we have to have some fresh grains. We use a "mash extract" technique where we crack the grains (for best freshness) with the grinder you see on the stove, and then we soak them in a bag we made out of bridal vale material. We also use some dry and liquid malt extract just to make the ingredients more portable.
Then we cooked it with the malt, grains and hops, which is a hot job in the tropics!
This is our biggest batch of brown sugary stuff yet! Hard to believe that turns into beer, but add some bacteria and it does the work. It takes about 10 days to ferment in our warmer climate we can't keep it at the proper temperature so we have to be careful not to let it sit too long.
We were a bit worried how our 4 gallons of bubbling beer would do during the tropical storm that came through, but fortunately we didn't get bounced around too much and the beer looks and smells good.
When it's done fermenting it's time to break out the freshly sterilized bottles, bottle caps and priming sugar!
Now the hardest part is letting them "bottle condition" for weeks. Agh!
Some of the tricks we've worked on refining is using minimal water for sterilization and cleaning. We've also have a system the eliminates the need for a bottling bucket, siphon, and a second fermenter. It's a work in progress so we'll see how Vog Head turns out when the bottles are ready to be cracked open. I hope it's good!