The Decemberists’ bassist Nate Query may be known for his musical talents, but it turns out he also has a knack for homebrewing. In an interview for our September/October 2011 issue, Query chats about the creativity that fuels both passions, and here—in his own words—he offers up the recipe for his most successful beer to-date: the Accidental 40-Minute IPA.
8 oz. Crystal 60 malt
8 oz. Dextrin (CaraPils) malt
Extract: 7 lbs. Light Dry Malt Extract (6 lbs. also works)
40 minutes 1 oz. Zeus or Chinook
20 minutes 1 oz Zeus or Chinook
5 minutes 1 oz. Amarillo
0 minutes 1 oz. Amarillo
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast
If you know how to brew, take this ingredient list and follow your normal process. If you're a novice, I've written my method below, but feel free to consult with others.
First thing's first, Wyeast yeast comes in a smack pack. So before you do anything, smack the pack and put it somewhere dry but warm (about 80 degrees F). Don't open it yet.
Place your steeping grains in a grain bag and add to a large stockpot filled with 1 1/2 gallons of water warmed to 150 degrees F. Steep at a continuous 150 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
Fill your brew pot with 4 gallons of water and bring to a boil (at my house this takes a while on the stove, at least 30 minutes or so).
In general, you’ll find there’s a lot of waiting time in the brew process. I use this period to get things ready, sanitize stuff, etc.
Weigh your hop additions (be sure to keep them separate) but don't add any yet.
Remove the grain bag from the steeping water and pour the malty "tea" into your brew kettle. You should now have about 5 1/2 gallons in there.
When the brew pot is close to a boil, add the malt extract. Stir it continuously to avoid a boil over.
Get the stove to a good temperature for maintaining a steady boil.
Look at the clock, note the time and stir in your first hop addition (write down the times of this and your subsequent hop additions so you don't get confused). Continue to stir occasionally throughout the hopping process. After 20 minutes have passed add your second hop addition. After an additional 15 minutes pass add your third addition, and five minutes after that add your final hop addition and remove the wort from the heat—the wort should have been on the stovetop for a total of 40 minutes after you added your first hops.
At this point, anything that touches cold wort must be cleaned and sanitized before touching the wort (I use Star San). This is very important. Cool the wort (preferably with a wort-chiller) to 75-80 degrees F. Filter through a large sieve into a bucket to remove the hops, then funnel into a carboy.
Now aerate the wort. I put a cover over the opening (sanitized foil wrap works well) and shake, shake, shake. Or you can rock it back and forth on the floor or pick it up and tilt it back and forth. The goal is to dissolve oxygen into the liquid so that your yeast will be happy. Continue aerating for several minutes.
Now add the yeast.
Top the carboy with an airlock and store it in a cool, dark place (around 63-70 degrees F). It should start bubbling within a day, and it will be done fermenting within two weeks, sometimes even quicker. Then you can keg or bottle it—ask your local homebrew shop for tips.
Makes one 5-gallon batch.
Here are some additional homebrewing resources to help you along the way:
This enthusiastic and well-designed book by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill offers a handy guide for newbies and experienced brewers alike with easy-to-read recipes, tips and insight from some of the country’s best craft brewers.
F.H. Steinbart Co.
An Oregon-based homebrew shop that ships ingredients and supplies of all sorts across the country, including a variety of extracts, specialty yeasts and hard-to-find hops. Plus their website includes more than two-dozen recipes to get you started.
Home Brewing Wiki
A Wiki forum dedicated to homebrews of all-sorts from beer to mead to wine. And in true Wiki fashion any expert is invited to edit.
How to Brew
Perhaps the most visited homebrewing site on the web, How to Brew offers the entire first edition of John Palmer’s book in an easy-to-read printable format for free.
A resourceful reader-driven forum and recipe database that even offers brewing calculators and journals to its users.
The American Homebrewers Association
Your online community for all things homebrew-related.
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
Founder and president of the American Homebrewers Association Charlie Papazian’s book goes beyond the basics to explain the science behind brewing.
The Mad Fermentationist
This frequently updated blog mostly dedicated to homebrewing Belgian-style beers (think farmhouse ales, Bret-flecked beers and sours) includes loads of recipes and helpful tips (like how to dry hops at home).