Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beer 0 - Bottling Complete

My wife was going to take pictures of the bottling, but she was too busy drinking wine in the pool with one of her friends. Here's the end result though. Now on to more waiting...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beer 0 - Cold Crashing

Cold crashing the secondary. This will hopefully result in clearer beer. There's less beer than I expected - about a gallon less. I most likely under-accounted for loss of fluid when I boiled for an hour before. I'll be more careful next time. This means the beer will be stronger flavored and slightly more alcoholic.

Tonight I'll add some priming sugar, bottle it, and then it should be ready to drink in another couple of weeks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Beer 0 - Final Gravity

I opened up the primary fermentation bucket yesterday for the first time. I leaned over to smell the beer and... got a face-full of CO2. Anyway, I measured the gravity of the beer. It was 1.010, right at the low end of the target based on my recipe. I can calculate the alcohol content by volume using this formula (from Wikipedia):

ABV = 132.715 (OG - FG)

Plugging in my original gravity of 1.044 and my final gravity of 1.010 yields an ABV of 4.6%, right on target for my recipe.

Today after work I'm going to check the gravity one more time to make sure that the fermentation is mostly finished, then probably move it to my glass carboy for a (short) week of secondary fermentation. It's probably not necessary, but I want to try using my new equipment. Plus, since I opened the primary, the CO2 layer dissipated and now there's air on top of the beer. Using my 5 gallon secondary carboy will leave much less airspace above the beer, lessening the chance of contamination and spoiling.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Beer 0 - Fermentation Update

My beer started fermenting within the first half hour, and the airlock was bubbling like crazy until Wednesday. It slowed down after that and now has stopped. I'm going to open it up, measure the gravity, and taste it tomorrow. My plan is to let it age in the fermenter another week and then bottle it.

The airlock activity shows that fermentation took place. I don't know if it will taste good yet, but I do know it will have alcohol in it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beer 0 - Brew Day

Today I brewed my first beer with the new beer kit. It went well enough, although I learned a few things for next time that I can do better. Here's how it went.

First, I set up my new 33 quart turkey fryer on my porch by the pool.

Next, I sanitized all relevant brewing equipment. I used Star-San that I bought online, and used my primary fermentation bucket to hold the sanitizer.

The recipe called for boiling 2.5 gallons of water to make the wort. There was a convenient 3 gallon mark in the turkey fryer pot, so I used 3 gallons instead. The instructions indicated that this would result in more hop flavor which I was OK with. I heated up the water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and turned off the burner. The thermometer that came with the turkey fryer was within 5 degrees of the lab thermometer that came with my brewing kit, as was my IR thermometer. Once the water was heated, I turned off the burner and steeped the grains for 20 minutes.

I left the burner off while the grains were steeping, watching the temperature to make sure it didn't drop below 150 degrees.

Next, I had to add the malt. I had a can of liquid malt extract and two bags of dried malt extract. I don't have any pictures of this since my photographer (my wife) was helping me stir as I added the malt. It was at this point that I had a boil over. I didn't think I'd have to worry about that since I had such a big pot, and I added a few drops of Fermcap to prevent this. I think I added it too early though so it had settled. It's probably a good thing that I had a boil over the first time - my wife stopped questioning my decision to buy the turkey frier instead of brewing in the kitchen!

These were the hops varieties that the ingredients kit included. The bittering hops were added at the initial boil, the flavoring hops 40 minutes into the boil, and the aroma hops at 55 minutes into the hour boil.

Once the boil was done, I carried the pot inside to chill in the sink with ice water.

As it was chilling, I rehydrated the yeast. Once the wort was down to 75 degrees or so, I poured it into the fermenter and transfered the Star-San sanitizer to the bottling bucket for storage so I can reuse it later.

I then poured in the extra water I had boiled earlier to get the beer up to around 5 gallons. I didn't measure the volume directly but went based on the gravity of the beer. It ended up at 1.044 (I think - the hydrometer was hard to read with the foam) which was right in the middle of the expected range for my recipe of 1.046 - 1.042.

I poured in the now hydrated yeast and made a homemade swamp cooler with a cooler full of water, a fan, and an old undershirt to help keep fermentation temperatures down. We usually keep our A/C set to 80 to save money, and this setup looks like it's keeping everything in the low 70's. We'll see how well it works over time with the humid Florida air, but I'm hopeful. If I get serious about this hobby I may look into buying a small chest cooler and a temperature controller.

The airlock started bubbling within 20 minutes of pitching the yeast so now it's time to wait! I'm still undecided as to whether I want to do a secondary fermentation in my 5 gallon glass carboy. If not, I'll probably let it sit in the primary for 2 or 3 weeks then bottle.