Filling the Pipeline (-or- What's the Point of a Two Tap Kegerator with Only One Beer on Tap?)
Yes, having fresh beer on tap in your house is as awesome as it sounds! But, what's better than one beer? Two beers of course! With that thought in mind, I bought a two tap kegerator when I decided to keg my Octoberfest. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
Since the Octoberfest is a dark lager, I decided to go with something a bit lighter and crisper for my second option. After all, San Antonio is still averaging mid 90's every day, so I wanted something refreshing. Because of this, I chose to buy Brewer's Best's Continental Pilsner kit.
Brew Day (28Aug15)
Since the Octoberfest was so well received by my friends and coworkers, I was eager to get another beer in the brewing pipeline. Today was my first opportunity to brew uninterrupted, so I chose to seize the day and start the process. As always, a good brewer is a clean brewer, so I started by surface cleaning and sanitizing all my equipment. It's been a while since I've shared my brewing exploits, so if you need a refresher, go to my brewing 101 page here.
Once my equipment was clean, it was time to start my brew...
So, now we wait! The yeast need time to do their work, but they should start bubbling CO2 in the next 48 hours. I'll check on it in a few days and let you know what I find.
48 Hour Checkup (30Aug15)
Over the past two days, I've been monitoring the temperature of re brewing fridge and making small adjustments to the controller to ensure it stays in the optimal range. It's taken a bit of tweeting, but I think I got it at a stable set point.
I also noticed that the Starsan fluid I used for the airlock wasn't doing a great job. Too viscous for the bubbler to move up and down easily. However, the bubbles I found were a good sign. I ended up swapping the bubbler with another filled with vodka and that seemed to allow for a smooth bounce. Look for the bubble at seconds 4 and 13.
So far the bubbling is nice and slow (the 9 second period seems pretty steady). That's good in my opinion as it means I won't have to swap over to a blow off tube. I'll have to keep an eye on it to see if the yeast becomes more active. Other than that, there's nothing to do except keep checking on the temperatures and let the little yeasties do their work!
Racking Day (11Sep15)
The yeast exited primary fermentation a couple days after the 48 hour check up. What does that mean? The bubbling stopped. That, however, doesn't mean they didn't stop working. They've been keeping at breaking down sugars into alcohol for the past two weeks. However, what sucks for the the yeast is that this whole process of making alcohol also makes the beer-in-progress an inhospitable place for them. A lot of the cells die and fall to the bottom of the bucket (becoming "trub"). If I leave that layer of gunk in contact for the beer for much longer, the dead cells would start decomposing and ruin the beer. So, to avoid this, I need to move the beer to a new vessel, a process called "racking."
I'm pleased with how much liquid I was able to get out of the primary fermenter and into the carboy. I often lose the most fluid in this stage, but I've been getting better at the racking process with practice.
So now that I've completed the racking process, I'm starting to lager the beer. What does that mean, exactly? Simply, I'll be lowering the temperature by 2 degF per day from an average of 55 degF to a new set point of approx 40 degF. That means that it'll take about a week to do, then I can leave the beer for 2 - 3 more weeks to allow for secondary fermentation.
First Kegging Attempt (18-Oct-15)
Good news: The beer is done fermenting and it looks GREAT.
However, you'll never know until you taste, right? Well, I decided it was time to get everything kegged and ready to drink. As I was getting everything ready, I noticed a problem.
Bad news: There has been a little mold growth on some of the fittings and inside some of the lines of the kegerator.
The only thing I can guess that caused this was that I missed some of the moisture when I closed it up after cleaning and sanitizing it after the octoberfest. There's only one option, really. I'll have to take the whole thing apart to clean it very thoroughly lest I kill the beer. Unfortunately, that'll take most of an evening, so it'll have to wait a few days. Wish me luck!
Actually Kegging the Beer! (20-Oct-15)
It took a bit of time and some elbow grease, but I was able to disassemble, clean, reassemble, and sanitize all the pieces of the kegerator that could've had exposure to the mold growth. Now everything was finally ready to keg the beer!
As expected, the first step was to sanitized the keg and all the tools I'd use in the transfer process.
After the beer was in the keg, I reattached the lid and moved it over to the kegerator. I turned the regulator up to 35 PSI and attached the carbonation line to the out port (the one with the dip stick). The only thing to do was wait.
Beer Tasting! (23-Oct-15)
With the beer done, all there was left to do was give it a taste! I turned the regulator down to serving pressure (approx 8-10 PSI) and then poured the first few glasses. I quickly found that I had over carbonated a bit as I got nothing but foam. So, I vented the CO2 in the tank to bring it back to atmospheric conditions and then put the 8-10 PSI gas blanket on top. Over the past few days, the over pressure has been getting steadily better.
I'm really pleased with how the beer turned out and am looking forward to sharing with with friends and family. Cheers!