Monday, March 3, 2014

Wool Sweater - Bottling

Nearly 3 weeks after being shut in the bucket and it's time to see what's going on in there. Prying off the lid is an awkward task. I worry if I just try to rip it off things will slosh around too much. So I patiently lift a little, turn the bucket, lift a little more. Bucket probably goes around 3 or 4 times before the lid comes all the way up.

The initial smell was great. Then I noticed all the little bits of hops around the top of the bucket. Things that got stuck during the bubbling. Still a few hops floating too. That might have meant I could have put the lid back on and let it settle a few more days before bottling. But I didn't look it up. I already had everything ready and Daddy was looking after The Boy. Better get to work when I have the kitchen blocked off and all to myself.

Thing I need to remember next time: if the siphon hose has been stored coiled it is important to get it warm with hot water and relax those curls out. It is rather annoying (and difficult towards the end of the brew bucket) to try to keep the siphon end in the brew bucket out of the sediment while keeping the exit end of the siphon hose under the beer already in the bottling bucket. Especially when one is on the counter and the other is on the floor.

One thing that did go better this time: I bought the right sanitizing stuff. So everything only needed a minute rather than 30.

In the end I have 40 bottles (6 of them 22 oz) and a half bottle. Not sure what will happen with the half, but the beer was in there and it was just as easy to cap it as pour it out. So I guess I'll find out. Fewer bottles than my last batch, but more was left behind in the brewing bucket this time for two reasons - more sediment and the sediment wasn't as compact as last time (another reason I think I could have waited a few more days).

Now me and my tastebuds wait. 2 weeks according to the instruction sheet. Eat all the sugars and fart lots little yeasties! I want my beer bubbly and not sweet.

Wool Sweater

It's a winter warmer!

No, not something you wear. But if you drink enough of it you'll feel warm. Maybe. This is my second homebrew. The first was a pale ale. The super friendly guy at my local brew shop recommended the pale ale kit after I made a face at the suggestion I make an amber brew for my first batch. Not that I have anything against amber beers, I just prefer a little more in my glass. I asked then about making a winter ale, but he thought I'd be better off doing something a little more simple for my first time through the mechanics of getting a 5 gallon batch of beer made. He was right, and the beer was good (still is really, I've still got a few left).

Back to this batch. Doug had a great gift idea for Christmas - beer ingredients. I even got them before Christmas because we exchanged gifts early. But the beer making had to wait since we were headed North to the Seattle area for the holidays. After the holidays there were a couple weekends in Portland followed by a couple of weeks helping Roland get over surgery. Which means that finally, in the middle of February, I got to spend an afternoon brewing in the kitchen.

This time, instead of a neat little booklet outlining each step, I had a one-page photo copied recipe laid out in an outline style. Good thing I've done this before.

I started with 2.5 pounds of grain, freshly milled the day before. My 5 gallon brew pot was filled pretty full once I got enough water to steep the grain plus the grain in there. After steeping for about 30 minutes directions told me to increase the water level to 4 gallons. Now it was really full! In went the malt extracts (both liquid and dried). Then some hops. Then more hops. Then more hops again. Hooray for hops! And the combined boiling time was nearly 2 hours. In which we learned a fun thing about our smoke detector: humidity WILL set it off. Repeatedly. Prepare yourself to open windows, flap around kitchen towels, and consider removing the damn battery by the end of the batch. (Good thing this smoke detector wasn't in our apartment in Hawaii. And maybe that's why we didn't have one.)

Then into the bucket to bubble away - hopefully unmolested by the tiny human in the house. Smelled pretty good going in.