Sunday, January 31, 2010

SR2: The second batch begins

(It's yeast.)
My second batch of beer is burbling away in the carboy. Taking into account what I learned from SR1, I moved right through the wort and transfer to the fermenter last night. Everything went very smoothly, so I'm nervous. Last time, I knew I was kind of screwing things up. This time, I don't think I did, which means I might have overlooked something. I guess I'll know in a month.That's one of the first things about this batch that's different from the SR1 pale ale; SR2 is an India pale ale, which requires a longer bottle fermentation. That means the beer won't be drinkable until March 12. That's a long time to keep my fingers crossed.

Anyway, things that worked really well this time included keeping all the water in the refrigerator until I needed it and having all the equipment I needed (you can make a batch of beer with the stuff from the kits, but extras like funnels, screens and hydrometer tubes are a huge help). Refrigerating the water easily saved me four hours (based on the amount of time I wasted trying to cool SR1). After sparging the boiled wort with the cold, filtered water, the wort was a perfect 68-70 degrees. No muss, no fuss. I was also more familiar with what I needed to produce the wort and get it into the carboy. So I didn't bother sanitizing every piece of brewing equipment I own, just the equipment I needed last night. In fact, I only used a few pieces (two pots, a hose, funnel, filter screen, paddle, hydrometer and thermometer). And thanks to the hydrometer tube, I was able to get a correct reading on the original gravity (1.032), which will help me determine the final alcohol content of the beer. The filter and screen, which I bought on line from Maryland HomeBrew, shaved a bunch of time off the process last night because I wasn't trying to use the small cooking strainers and one-cup funnels to sparge and transfer five gallons of wort.

For this IPA, I sort of followed Charlie Papazian's recipe for "Palilalia India Pale Ale." Sort of. When I was picking up my ingredients from myLHBS, I had to buy two three-pound bags of malt extract, rather than just the 5.5 pounds the recipe called for. When I asked the guy how I could measure out 2.5 pounds from the 3 pound bag without a scale, he told me to just use the whole bag. I did. I also tossed in a half ounce of Cascade and half ounce of Glacier Leaf whole hops I had left over from the beer class I taught a while back. Aside from all that, though, I followed Papazian's recipe to the letter.

Last weekend, I had a few friends over to taste SR1. The reaction was excellent. With any luck, the IPA will go over just as well. However, one thing that bothers me about SR1 is the relative lack of carbonation. It's carbonated, but there's no head. I'm not sure if that's just the beer or something else. I suspect that it might be due to loosing some yeast in all the overflow I experienced when I left the cap on the bubbler. Now that I know to remove the cap, I'm curious to see if I experience an overflow problem again and if the carbonation will be better in the final product.
On a side note, I just joined the mailing list for the DC Homebrewers Club. Mike Dolan, one of the club organizers, was working the register at myLHBS when I stopped by on Friday and talked to me a bit about the club. I suspect that this might be the same Mike Dolan who writes for DC Beer, but I didn't get his last name until I got home and looked at the card he gave me. Interesting if it is him. Apparently, the club members meet once a month to do tastings of each other's beers and talk about homebrewing. I'm not sure how many of these gatherings I'll be able to make to in the near future, but we'll see.
I'll check in on SR2 in about two weeks. Hopefully by then it'll be ready to bottle. Oh, and I'm a
lready thinking of my next batch: a bitter.

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