Tag Archives: Homebrewing

Bottling Complete

The bottling is now complete.  I have 16 regular 12 oz. bottles, 1 22 oz. bomber, and 2 20 oz. soda bottles.  I tasted the flat, warm beer before I bottled.  Unfortunately, I have a strange feeling it got infected.  It had a slight sour apple taste to it.  Perhaps that’s just the way it tastes before being ready and maybe I’m too worried.  After the bottling was done, the Mr. Beer keg smelled like a gueuze, nice and funky with the thick layer of yeast on the bottom.  I imagine that’s normal.  Regardless of whether or not it got infected, I’ve got some hope for this beer.  The last 2 bottles got a lot of sediment coming from the bottom of the keg.  I wonder if those will come out differently.

The instructions say to carbonate at least 7 days, but to allow them to sit for 2-3 weeks for optimal flavor.  The bottles are in the same place I stored the keg while fermenting (on top of my fridge).  It should be about 70 degrees up there all the time.  I’m thinking I’ll leave th em up there for 2 weeks or so and then put a couple in the fridge to try (I may even try one after a week) and the rest in my “cellar” (aka the pantry) which is about 60 degrees because it gets no heat and it’s in the corner of the house.  I’ll let them age there as I decide when to drink and who to give them to (I already have one person who wants to try it and I’ll probably give some to my boss).

Bottling Day

So today’s the day… alright, not that day, but I am bottling the beer today. I just went through the painful (yes, painful, apparently I have arthritis, my thumb is swollen) process of scraping the labels off a bunch of bottles. It was made easier by soaking them in hot soapy water (thanks George!). I have quite the mix of bottles… some regular ones, some bottles with Sam Adams on them, some stubby Sierra Nevada bottles, and one 22 oz. bomber. I am, unfortunately, also going to have to use 2 plastic ones (luckily, I saved some 20 oz. soda bottles). The glass ones are in the dishwasher right now on high heat rinse, high heat wash (without detergent), and heated dry. They should be good and sanitized by the time they come out. I just have to use the Mr. Beer sanitizer on the 2 plastic bottles.

That’s where I stand now… I’ll write more when I get them bottled and capped (thanks to my boss Ed who gave me a capper and a bunch of caps).

I think the beer is done fermenting…

So after consulting with my boss about the conditions of the room where I put my Mr. Beer keg/fermenter, I realized that it was too cold. It didn’t look like anything was happening for a day or 2. The room was my pantry, which is perfect as far as no light is concerned, but apparently at about 60°F, it was too cold. He said it should be closer to 70°F.  So I moved it to the top of my refrigerator.  As we keep the apartment about 67, it should work better (especially since heat rises).  So all last week, I opened the curtains and blinds to let the sun in to heat the apartment when we were at work (programmable thermostat automatically turns the heat off, but the sun does a great job).

After a day on the fridge, I noticed a bunch of bubbles had formed at the top of the beer.  Those bubbles remained and I checked when we got back from our ski trip this weekend and they’re gone.  I imagine that means it’s done fermenting.  Unfortunately, I now need to make sure I have enough bottles and I need to get some caps and a capper (my boss said he has an extra capper that will be included with the stuff he gives me, hopefully I’ll get that this week).  So the beer will remain in the fermenter for another couple days while I await the capper.  Then it’s time to bottle.  I’ve heard cleaning the bottles is the biggest pain in the ass.  I don’t look forward to that, but I do look forward to drinking this beer.

Beer is in the Fermenter

So the Mr. Beer kit was quite easy. It was a little too easy for my tastes. I can’t wait to try real homebrewing. With the Mr. Beer kit, you sanitize everything (duh), then dissolve the “Booster”, which is basically high quality sugars, fermentable stuff, in cold water. Once that’s entirely dissolved (the hardest part is standing there stirring it until it’s dissolved), you bring it to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Then you pop open the can of the pre-made mix (meaning they take all the fun out of it) and dump that into the pot (it’s a thick syrup, it was tough getting it all out). You stir it up to create the wort. Then you dump that into the fermenter which had a gallon of cold water in it waiting for the hot stuff. Add more water and stir it some more. Finally, you add the yeast, let it sit for 5 minutes and then stir it again.

Now it’s just sitting in the back of my pantry fermenting for about a week (though I have a feeling because the kit is older, it’ll take longer, and I won’t be here exactly a week from now because of the long weekend and my skiing plans). Once it’s done fermenting, I bottle it. I have a bunch of 20 oz. soda bottles (which I may only fill up to 16 oz.) and a bunch of empty 12 oz. beer bottles that I’ll be using. I am still waiting for the homebrew equipment from my boss. The only thing I really need from that is the capping stuff. I’m going to bottle partially in plastic and partially in glass this first time. Next time will be with a real homebrew kit and I’ll go all glass then. I am anxious to see how this beer comes out. It’s called “West Coast Pale Ale”. It’s just a pale ale. I imagine it’ll be better than some macro lager, but I doubt it’d be anywhere near as good as even a halfway decent pale ale. We shall see. The beer should be drinkable in about a month or so. Basically, it says 1-2 weeks in the fermenter, then a week or so in the bottles, and you can either condition it longer or drink it. I plan on conditioning it longer to hopefully give it a bit more flavor, so it’ll be at least 2 weeks in the bottles and probably close to 2 weeks in the fermenter. Then I’ll try one and see if it needs more time.

If you’re someone I actually know and wish to try one, I’ll see what I can do.  Leave a note in the comments or email me.

New Forays with Beer (for me)

Recently, I decided that I would start aging beers.  After trying Newport Storm’s 06 a year later, I decided that some beers really benefit from aging.  While I don’t have an ideal cellar for proper cellaring, I am keeping them in my dark pantry at room temperature (the nice thing is that the pantry doesn’t have a baseboard heater).  I have a few beers that I will be aging.  I bought a 6 pack of Victory’s Storm King Stout for our little New Year’s get-together and I drank 2 of them and decided it needed some aging.  I put the other 4 away.  I’m going to try 1 or 2 of them in a year (depending on whether or not Susan will like it, she might have one for herself, as right now it’s too hoppy for her).  If I decide to drink them all, so be it.  Otherwise, I’ll save the other 2 for an additional year.

I also have 2 bottles of Stone’s Double Bastard.  I plan on drinking one and saving the other for a year or 2.  This beer is ready now and I like the way it tastes just fine, but I’m curious to see how it is aged.

The other beers I’m hanging onto at room temperature are JW Lees Harvest Ale (an English Barleywine aged in Lagavulin Scotch casks, vintage 2005), I’ll try this one whenever I feel like it; Allagash Interlude, I had this at a tasting and decided I would hang onto it for a year and see how it tastes; Koningshoeven Trappist Quadrupel, this one had already been aged for a year by the distributor, I’ll try it whenever for a nice special occasion; Southampton’s Old Ale, brewed for their 10 year anniversary in 2006, so it’s already aged a year, I’ll try it whenever; and finally, Left Hand’s Widdershin’s Barleywine, vintage 2007, I’ll have this whenever, though I might save it for a while.

As I get more into aging of beers, I’ll probably post about the beers individually as I store them and as I try them.  I’ll try to buy 2 of each that I plan on aging so I can post some tasting notes pre- and post-cellaring.  And once I have a house of my own, I’ll work on putting together a real storage area for cellaring.  The basement in the house I live in right now would be good for cellaring as it stays pretty cool year ’round, but I’m not the only person with access and I wouldn’t want anything happening to the stuff I put down there (plus it’s really kind of gross and nasty).

The other foray I’m getting myself into, as you may have read in the comments from a recent post, is homebrewing.  I received a Mr. Beer kit in a yankee swap last Christmas (2006).  I decided I will brew it this weekend and see how it comes out.  While it’s not the ideal way to make a true homebrew, it’s probably going to be a good start.  I should also be getting true homebrewing equipment from my manager as he no longer brews his own beer.  I’ll post about it more as I go through the process.