It begins… The starter is stirring vigorously, pale gold with suspended yeast….
This will be my two-time medalist in the Colorado State Fair, my Blonde Ale. Changes this time, water modification, more acidulated malt, some different hops. Brew Day is Sunday.
Bottled the kit brew I did a couple weeks ago tonight. I got to use the new corker/capper, works quite nicely once you get used to it….
My bottling setup is pretty primitive but it works. I mix up and boil the priming sugar, sanitize my bottles during that process, rack the beer to a bucket with a valve and mix. I use a regular plastic bottling attachment, fill the bottles one by one, put caps on them as I fill them then, once everything is filled, crimp the caps. I label with painter’s tape and place in a room temperature spot (the landing of our basement stairs) to condition. I love bottle-conditioning my beers. You lose a bit to yeast but the advantages of live yeast in the bottle are pretty overwhelming. They scavenge any spare oxygen, extending shelf life. They continue to work on the beer, improving the flavor over time. And in case of a zombie apocalypse, I have yeast samples to restart the ancient and honorable art of brewing!
This evening I opened another beer I’d bottled cold, a Maerzen. It carbonated fine. The difference, the Maerzen is a lager – it never got warm. Secondary fermentation produced enough carbon dioxide that the beer was saturated. So lesson learned: Lagers, beers that stay cold throughout their fermentation, can be packaged cold using the residual carbon dioxide and the priming equations. Ales, chilled, should be warmed to room temperature because the beer is not saturated with carbon dioxide.
It’s a good brew session that teaches you something, even at the cost of a case of good Koelsch.
Tried my fix this morning. I opened a beer, dropped in the priming tabs and had to dodge the spew. The tabs provided condensation nuclei and started a mad rush of carbon dioxide from the beer. So second lesson learned, don’t drop a priming tab into a carbonated beer….
So I’ll let the beer go for now and see if it picks up any more gas over time. And if I really decide to fix it, I can dissolve sugar in sterile water, add a measured amount and let the beer gas up. Seems more trouble than it’s worth for a half-batch of beer that’s pretty good even a little flat.
A while back I packaged, read bottled, a Koelsch. It was a delicious green beer, perfectly clear after gelatin fining, cold from the lagering refrigerator so I used the bottling calculators basing the calculations on a 32 degree beer.
The equations for bottle conditioning rely on two sources of carbon dioxide. The first is a contribution from the bit of residual yeast in the beer. A beer can appear bright, that is, clear, and still have 100,000 cells/ml in suspension. Bottle conditioning uses this yeast. You add back a bit of sugar, generally in the neighborhood of 4.5 ounces, to the beer and let the yeast cells do their thing. It’s such a small fermentation there will be no perceptible off-flavors generated. The second source is the carbon dioxide dissolved in the beer. The assumption is that the beer is saturated with carbon dioxide at the temperature of packaging. A beer saturated with carbon dioxide at 32 degrees needs just a bit of sugar to prime where a beer at 68 degrees needs the full amount – very little carbon dioxide remains in solution at room temperature.
So I packaged the Koelsch using the priming equations at 32 degrees and got an under-carbonated beer. What happened? The beer was fermented completely quite a bit warmer than the 32 degrees I was “lagering” it so it wasn’t saturated with carbon dioxide. I can fix this, I take the caps off, drop a couple of priming tabs into each bottle and recap, little risk since the beer has already got a bit of carbonation, but work I didn’t need to do.
Lesson learned, let the beer warm up to room temp before bottling and use the full amount of priming sugar. There’s no question about priming that way.
Fined Gewurztraminer today. It’s a kit wine – instructions were to add 500ml of reserve juice, the “F-Pack”. We tested, 500 ml of wine, adding juice by the milliliter. In the end, we put 300 ml of the F-Pack in to achieve a very off-dry wine. Only two weeks to bottling!
She’s coming along nicely. I’m prepping a supplemental pitch of yeast to eat through the last few gravity points and get as dry a beer as possible. Primary with the original Abbey yeast is nearly done so I’ll use the San Diego Super Yeast to chew through the last few points. More to come….