The Coffee Pot Project

Posted on 07 March 2011

Last year I read the article, “How to brew beer in a coffee maker, using only materials commonly found on a modestly sized oceanographic research vessel” and, although it sounded interesting, I didn’t really give it too much thought.

Well, fast-forward a year and I stumbled across the article again and, this time, I wondered if I could do something similar but, instead of using whatever I can find at-hand, I’d actually try to brew an all-grain batch of beer. I’ve got plenty of base malt and some specialty malts, some hops, and a couple spare growlers so why not give it a shot? All I really needed to buy was a new coffee maker (since I don’t want to ruin the one we use for coffee each morning!).

So here’s the first recipe I brewed-up:

Coffee Pot Project: Mild
BJCP Category: 11A (Mild)
7 3/4 oz Maris Otter
1/4 oz Roasted Barley
1 oz White Table Sugar (sucrose)
1/8 oz Brambling Cross (30)
1 tsp Fleischmann’s Dry Yeast
1 Gallon zip-top plastic bag
Grain bag
Meat tenderizer or rolling pin
Standard basket-type, 12-cup Coffee Maker (I found one for $10 at Target)
1 regular coffee filter
Saucepan (2-4 quarts)
Small funnel
No. 6 1/2 drilled stopper
3 x 12oz bottles and caps (for bottling)

I filled the coffee maker with water up to the 6 cup mark.

 Coffee Pot Project - Step 1: Mash Grains Once I’d measured out the grains, I placed them in the zip-top bag and then crushed them with the meat tenderizer; just crack the grain husks — don’t pulverize them. Once crushed, I poured the grains into the grain bag, loosely knotted the top, and then put the grain bag into the carafe with the knot hanging out the top. Then I ran the water through the coffee maker so that the carafe was full and, once full, I pulled the carafe out to dunk the grain bag up and down a few times to make sure all of the grains were saturated with the hot water.

With the coffee maker’s heating element still on, I let the grains steep for 30 minutes (let’s call this the “mash” cycle).

 Coffee Pot Project - Step 2: Sparge After the grains had steeped/mashed, I removed the grain bag from the the carafe and poured the liquid into the saucepan. I then put the coffee filter into the coffee maker’s basket and dumped the grains out into the basket/filter. I filled the coffee maker up to the 10 cup mark and then ran the water through to “sparge” the grains.

Once sparging had finished, I combined it with the mash water in the boil pot and boiled for 30 minutes, adding the hops at the start of the boil and the table sugar at 10 minutes.

Following the boil, I poured the wort into a sanitized growler (using the funnel), capped, and placed in the refrigerator to cool a bit before pitching the yeast. After pitching the yeast, I topped-off the growler with the stopper and airlock and set aside for a week before bottling.

While I was at it, I decided to go ahead and try brewing up another beer, as well:

 Coffee Pot Project - Step 3: Boil Coffee Pot Project: Stout/Porter
BJCP Category: I’m not so sure this one hit a specific category…
6 1/2 oz Maris Otter
1/2 oz Chocolate Malt
1/2 oz Roasted Barley
1 oz Brown Sugar
1/8 oz Brambling Cross (30)
1 tsp Fleischmann’s Dry Yeast

 Coffee Pot Project - Step 4: Fermentation I followed the same process as with the first beer but this time I remembered to take gravity readings. According to BeerTools Pro my Original Gravity should have been 1.040 but I over-shot that by a bit winding-up with an O.G. of 1.048. A week later, my final gravity was 1.006 (for an ABV of about 5.43%).

When it came time to bottle, I decanted each beer into a sanitized, 8 cup measuring cup (thanks to my wife, we actually have something like this in our house!). I then primed each of the sanitized bottles with 1 tsp of white table sugar and slowly funnelled the beer into each bottle, winding up with about 36 oz of beer total.

All-in-all, the Coffee Pot Project beers are a far cry from full 5 or 6 gallon batches but, as a fun experiment, they’re something I’ll definitely be repeating again. Initial taste tests of the Stout/Porter indicate that I probably used too much of the specialty grains so I’ll be dialing them back in my next attempt.

 Coffee Pot Project - Step 5: Bottle And, compared to a full 5 or 6 gallon batch, we’re not talking about a full “Brew Day” but more like an hour or two, from start to finish and including clean-up. The toughest part of the whole process is crushing the grains by hand and, even then, that’s not too bad. Cheers!

UPDATE: I wound-up with 3 bottles from each batch that I brewed. These beers were definitely ROUGH around the edges and need some work. The stout was “drinkable” but neither were something I’d share with others.

1 Response to The Coffee Pot Project

  • Great job! I’m sure your batch came out tastier than the bilge water we wound up with.

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