Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Home Brewing Beer: After [Part 3]

Well, we're all done and it tastes good!

After 1 week of aging my brew I transferred it into a 5 gallon glass carboy for a secondary fermentation. For this batch it was an unnecessary step but on any brews which take longer it's necessary to separate the spent yeast. When doing this, but careful not to agitate the liquid or to pick up any of the byproduct on the bottom of your primary fermenter. While this wasn't necessary for my brew it does help improve the clarity of the finished product. Remember to cap with a plastic airlock which has been half filled with vodka to help sanitize.

After another week in the secondary fermenter we were ready for bottling! Again, make sure to sanitize anything that will touch the beer, including your bottles. I had an assortment of various bottles, 12 oz, 22 oz, 26 oz, and 3 growlers (mine are from the Parkville Power Plant - now closed). The larger the bottles the less work for you. This means I was using normal bottle caps and a capper for most of the bottles. For the growlers I still had the reusable caps but one was missing the plastic seal on the inside. Without this plastic seal your beer will be flat (as mine was in that one growler)!


Make sure to take a gravity reading at this stage as you can use it with your original gravity to determine the alcohol volume of your brew. I think in my initial reading there was too much oxygen in the water and that skewed the result. This beer probably ended up around 4%.

Now it's time to bottle. Before doing so we added our priming sugar. About 3/4 cup of sugar was added to 1 cup of boiling water. This was added to our bottling bucket and then we siphoned the beer out of the carboy and into the bottling bucket. Once the bottling bucket was full we used an auto siphon pump and a spring loaded bottle filler which made this task relatively easy.

Once done with bottling, like a good home brewer we cleaned out any of the used equipment and stashed it away for next time. Speaking of, I need to get around to brewing the Oatmeal Stout kit I ordered!

After bottling, the beer will need about 2 weeks to bottle condition. Bottle conditioning is where the carbonation comes from. When we sampled the beer prior to bottling it was obvious that it was flat (though still tasty). By adding the priming sugar the yeast will now have something to eat but since we've tightly sealed the bottles the carbon dioxide is unable to escape. This is what carbonates the beer!

The last step of this lengthy but enjoyable process came about 1 month after brew day. That was popping open a bottle, hearing the sound of the carbonate, pouring the beer into a glass, and then proceeding to consume the delicious nectar.

I'm looking forward to my next batch! If you want to try my first batch of the Irish Red Ale, invite yourself over before it's all gone. Cheers.

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UPDATE: Posted a video of me capping a beer bottle and the finished product carbonating away. Enjoy

1 comment:

  1. You oughta bring a bottle or two to the ZZ Hops meeting next Tuesday--it's our St. Patrick's Day Party/Dinnner. Steve Laycock is taking a headcount. My next brew's going to be a saison. Drinking my Scottish 80 Schilling tonight.

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