Monday, January 11, 2010

SR1: Bottled and capped

I've decided that brewing isn't all that hard, but sanitizing everything sure is a pain in the ass.
I got started on bottling this morning around 8 a.m. By the time I cleaned up the last bit of brewing equipment it was just after 3 p.m. That's nearly a full-day's work, and only about an hour or so of that involved moving the beer from the carboy to the bucket and finally to the bottles. I know there are areas that I can save time on, like getting the bottles cleaned and dried ahead of time, but the rest of the process takes the time that it takes.
Before I finish discussing my nearly complete first batch, let me back up. Earlier I mentioned the overflow I was experiencing out of the bubbler. Well, I now know why it was happening: I kept the damn top on the bubbler. Now, this isn't as dumb as it sounds. The goddamn cap is perforated, therefore I assumed you left it on and the excess carbon dioxide would exp
el through the little holes. Nope, the foam and yeast kept getting backed up until it belched out all over my closet. Once I took the cap off the bubbler, my problem was solved. So if the cap isn't supposed to stay on the bubbler, why is it perforated? Unless it was done to befuddle and irritate novice brewers, I can see no reason for the little holes. None.
The other thing I was wondering about was the color of the beer. Early on it was looking darker than a pale ale should, and I was assuming it was a result of some caramelization that occurred when I added the malt to the wort. Well, it turns out there was nothing to worry about. The beer came out a beautiful golden yellow, just as it should.
However, the beer seems to be a bit lower in alcohol than I expected. According to my final hydrometer reading of 1.022, the alcohol content is around 3 percent. I guess I've made a session beer. Also, it's a bit more bitter than Charlie Papazian intended. Although I decided to skip the brewing kit and handle the ingredients myself, it appears
I've accidentally added three-quarters of an ounce more of hops than the recipe called for. I guess I shouldn't have just dumped the pouches of hop pellets into the wort without confirming the amounts I needed. When I tasted it, the beer seemed a little bitter, but not too bad. My first thought was that it needed more malt. Turns out, it just needed less hops. Anyway, I'll know what the final product tastes like on Jan. 21. Before bottling, I added an additional cup and a quarter of malt extract to help with bottle fermenting, so that might help the bitterness some. We'll see.
I got a bottle shy of two cases of beer from this batch, which sure beats the five cases I had to plow thought after Shenandoah. Once I finish off a case, I'll start on the next batch. Hopefully with this first batch of beer behind me, the next one will go smoother.

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