Holiday Ale

The Second Batch

My girlfriend and I are currently working on our second batch of beer, but the first time we've done a 5 gallon batch.  Our first batch was with a little 1 gallon kit.  We were trying to brew a brown ale, but someone (*whistles innocently*) was a little heavy handed with the hops and we ended up with something that tasted more like a flat porter.  It's still drinkable, and I'll probably end up using it for cooking if my buddy can't help me to recarbonate it.  We'll see.  After some discussion at our local home brew supply store, we picked out a holiday ale from Brewer's Best.

Unfamiliar with brewing terminology and technique?  Consider reading the Nathan's Homebrewing page before continuing for a refresher.

Brew Day (31-Oct-13)

Lessons learned from this brew:

  1. This was our first time brewing with a propane burner, and it turns out that it's very difficult to control temperature, even at the burner's lowest setting.  However, the burner was excellent at heating quickly.  Next time, we'll have to use the burner to introduce heat and then transfer to the stove when it comes time to hold a temperature.
  2. Boil overs aren't that bad.  They're messy and a bit of a pain to clean, but it's like getting caramel on your burner.
  3. Auto-siphons are the best invention ever (we were both too busy with the transfer for pictures, sorry).  The only competition is the wort chiller (the copper spiral in the wort in the cooling picture).
  4. If your yeast is going to be particularly active, use a blow off tube (as pictured) instead of an airlock.  Also, the bath tub provides easy clean up if the fermenter blows off the top regardless of the higher pressure release capacity.

Our next step will be to siphon the beer to the secondary fermenter.  We'll have to wait for yeast to do their thing first.

Racking Day (10-Nov-13)

For a yeast that was supposed to be very active, I saw very few bubbles.  No bubbles in fact. Granted, this week was very busy at work, so me not being around the house may account for the lack.  Honey has been around the house a lot more than me, but hasn't observed any bubble either.  Needless to say, we were a little worried.

Regardless, primary fermentation was probably done.  When I pushed down on the lid, there was a little bubbling, so there was pressure inside of the vessel.  Also, the blow off tube was fogged up and there was a pattern of deposit that suggested the yeast had been active.  The only way to be really sure would be the SG reading, but when we opened the bucket and found this, we felt much better.

Racking the holiday ale.

See all the debris on the side of the bucket?  The only way it could get there is if the yeast had caused the beer to foam.  Success!  We confirmed this victory by taking our second specific gravity reading.  During the fermentation process, the SG went from 1.076 to 1.010, which equates to an ABV of 8.7%.  I like high gravity beers, so I'm pretty excited for this one to turn out!

Honey was working last night, so I did all the prep work.  By the time she walked in the door, all we had to do was the siphoning part of the racking procedure, so it all worked out well.

The next step is bottling day!  In two weeks, it'll be time to bottle and let the beer age.  We're right on schedule for a Christmas drink!

Bottling Day (22Nov13)

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the first bottle of beer that I have ever made.

I know, this is the second batch, but we aged the first one in the carboy, so I don't really think it counts as the "first bottling."  What kind of storyteller am I? Shall we regress and start with the pictures?

Makes sense?  It was fun, though I want to have my lovely lady there next time so more pictures can be taken.  The bottle capper wasn't hard at all to figure out how to use, but did require two hands.  I almost forgot to add the priming sugar, but most way through the siphoning I remembered and added it in afterwards instead of before.  I don't think it'll hurt anything.  Now is the test of my discipline.  The beer only needs to age about two weeks according to the instructions, but want to take the first drink with my girlfriend, so we'll wait about a month until we are both off.

The next step is the best part and the whole point.  In about a bit less than a month, it'll be time to drink some beer!




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