Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homebrew - Episode 3

We are on the homestretch, people!

On Sunday, Mike bottled his beer.  This is really a couple weeks overdue, but he's been pretty busy.  It doesn't hurt the beer to sit longer; the important thing is to make sure it's stopped fermenting.

On Friday he prepared everything by cleaning and sterilizing the bottles.

For cleaning we have this handy thing that attaches to the faucet.  I didn't know we had this.  I think there could be a lot of uses for this contraption - which is probably why I didn't know we had it.


Sunday the actual bottling process began.

First he cleaned out his Ale Pails.  Then he "uncorked" the beer, gave it a whiff and said, "Wow.  That smells good!"  It smelled like beer throughout the process, but it definitely had a more sweet smell than previous recipes he's made.

Next he boiled the priming sugar. 

Here I have to pull out my notes; yes, I took notes.  I have to know what I'm doing next time I make beer on my own.

HA!  That'll be the day.

Anyway, the priming sugar will make Carbon Dioxide which will carbonize the beer while it sits in the bottles.

Next you transfer everything from the carboy to the bottling bucket.  Also known as "Ale Pail #1" today.

While that's transferring he put the sugar in the sink with a couple handfulls of ice surrounding it.  The sugar/water combo needs to cool down.  It should be somewhere around room temp when it's added to the beer.  There's a good chance his wasn't quite that cool, but don't tell anyone.

While that's cooling and the carboy is still emptying, take another measure just to be certain that the fermentation has stopped. 

When the carboy is mostly empty this is at the bottom:

That's gross.  Don't do anything with that except throw it away.

Now comes the fun part: bottling.  Get yourself a comfy chair and hook up the hose to Ale Pail #1.  Have the other end lead to Ale Pail #2 which is sitting at your feet.

Here I'm going to go out on a limb and say that any Home Depot 5-gallon bucket would do for Ale Pail #2.  But, I don't think the process would have felt as official.  All this second pail is doing is collecting the drips that happen between bottles.

And you don't want many drips...that's wasted beer.

Take out the first bottle, insert the end of the tube which has a special nozzle.  When pressed, this nozzle releases the beer from Ale Pail #1 into the bottle.  When not pressed, the beer stops flowing into the bottle.

That first bottle is kind of exciting...

Repeat.  Several times.

26 bottles of beer on the wall....26 bottles of beeeer....

While he was doing this, Maddie came in to see what was going on.

She really wanted to give this a try.

Soon she was on her own.

And if one monkey sees another monkey doing something...

Soon he is doing it too.

50 bottles of beer on the wall...50 bottles of beer...

Next comes capping.  This involves this contraption:

A note here:  In this entire process either the names or actual tools look or sound like torture.  This thing looks like it could cut someone's finger off.  It can't...I'm just saying.

Bottle caps are also required.  We collect them all through the year to use them for just this purpose.

Kidding.  You buy them.  Mike bought two sets originally and now that his kids were helping he thought he should maybe get rid of the black ones.

Insert the bottle cap onto the magnet in the red contraption...

Place over the bottle and pull down the side levers.

Ta-da!  This is not blurry because I had any beer [*hiccup*].  Mike moved too quickly to get on with the process.

Maddie came in to help for this round as well.

Apparently this is a difficult task and requires brute strength...

Monkey see...Monkey do...

Jake got done and said, "I have GOT to get to the gym!"

Once everything is capped, it all goes back into the cases to sit for another 2-4 weeks.  This is called torture. 

If we had a keg system than this beer would have actually been drinkable immediately.  This has been mentioned quite a number of times.  But without his bar we have nowhere to store it so the tap will have to wait.  But don't worry, it has definitely been included in the bar plans.  It was the first thing drawn in.

Conclusion in a month or so!!!

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