Monday, September 17, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Bottling Day

After 13 days of fermenting and on-trub conditioning, I bottled my first batch. I made the mistake of failing to measure the temperature of the wort when I measured original gravity (OG 1.030 at ?º), but the final gravity was 1.018 (1.016 at 78º). One equation gave me an estimate of no higher than 1.5% ABV for the final beer, but I'm guessing it's probably closer to 3% ABV (I hope). It smelled delicious, very malty and sweat. The color is darker than I had expected for an amber ale, but I'm wondering if it won't lighten up a bit while conditioning. I ended up with 44 12-oz beers from about 4.5 gallons after racking. Evidently, I lost about 4 bottles worth of beer to spillage while filling the bottles, but I'll get better at that with a little more practice. Now, the wait is on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 7

So, according to the brewing instruction in my kit from Midwest Supplies, my beer is ready to be bottled, but I'm trying to heed the advice of Charlie Papazian and John Palmer and let the beer condition on the trub for an additional week. The yeast seem to be inactive as there are no bubbles and the temperature has been steadily, but slowly, dropping. I'm expecting a noticeable color change soon as the beer clears. I'm thinking I may have pitched the wort too hot. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 2

Well, I was worried that I might have had a stalled, or stuck, fermentation. The regular belching of the blow-off tube in the sanitizer stopped without warning. I didn't see any bubbling at all in the sanitizer so I replaced the blow-off tube with the airlock. That has been bubbling--slowly. On closer inspection, I can still see bubbling on the edge of the carboy, but I'm still a bit concerned that fermentation may have slowed to a crawl. I was set to pitch more yeast, but that was probably premature.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Fermenting Day 1

Here is the fermentation about 12 hours out. The activity really is incredible. I am shocked at how effervescent the yeast are.

The sanitizing solution has collected quite a bit of blown off hops and yeast sediment.

Batch 1: Autumn Amber Ale: Brewing Day

Here is the extract kit that came with my brewing kit.

I boiled three gallons of water to add to the wort at the end of the boil. As it turns out, it wasn't enough.

I steeped the specialty grains in a muslin bag for 30 minutes at 155º and then an additional 10 minutes off the burner.

After adding the liquid malt extract, I brought the wort to a rolling boil for 20 minutes to reach the hot break. I ran into trouble using my stainless steel kettle on a flat surface stove burner. It vibrated violently after just a few seconds. I had planned to use a propane burner outside, but rains forced me into the kitchen. Keeping a light touch on the handle of the burner solved the problem but was quite annoying after about three hours of brewing. I boiled the bittering hops for 60 minutes, adding the aroma hops for the final 10 minutes of the boil.

I chilled the wort by first topping it off with a couple gallons of the water I boiled before starting and then immersing the kettle in a bath of water, ice, and salt. Then, I stirred in the dry yeast packet, and siphoned the wort and pre-boiled water into the carboy which only got the liquid level up to base of the curve on the carboy. I scrambled to boil and chill more water. I did my best to shake the carboy to aerate the pitched wort, but I'm going to need to figure out a better way to do this for future batches. Finally, I fixed the blow-off tube to the carboy and sunk the end in sanitizing solution.

  • 6 lb. Gold LME
  • 2 oz. Special B
  • 8 oz. Caramel 80L
  • 2 oz. roasted malt
  • 1 oz. Hallertau hop pellets (bittering)
  • 1 oz. Fuggle hop pellets (aroma)
  • 6 g Muntons dry yeast

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It Begins

Today, I'm soaking bottles to remove the labels. I used two scoops of a sodium percarbonate cleaner (e.g. OxyClean) dissolved in 10 gallons of warm water in a plastic storage bin. It holds about 60 bottles. I'll let it sit overnight and then scrub off any residual paper and glue.

Tomorrow, I plan to start making my first solo batch of beer.