Monthly Archives: January 2011

Beer is Bottled!

After a week of sitting in the glass carboy my beer was finally ready to bottle.  It was probably ready to bottle after just 5 days but I thought leaving it in a little longer wouldn’t hurt.  I covered my carboy with a black plastic trash bag to eliminate the chances of any light hitting the beer.

Bottling is probably my least favorite part of making my own beer since it can be messy and time consuming, but hey, I kinda gotta do it.  A lot of advanced home brewers move on to kegging their beer which is a lot easier but requires extra equipment.  I also feel like kegs are less conducive to sharing with your friends unless they come over to your house, so I’m just sticking with bottles for now.

Over the past few weeks I had been collecting various glass beer bottles since I didn’t really want to buy new ones from the brew shop.  I sanitized the bottles in my dishwasher so I didn’t have to mess with soaking them in a huge bucket of sanitizer.

After I cleaned and sanitized all my equipment, I got the priming sugar ready.  The priming sugar (corn sugar) is what will carbonate the beer.  I boiled some water in a small pot with the priming sugar for 5 minutes and then cooled it in some ice water until the temperature fell to about 80°F.

I poured the cooled sugar water into my bottling bucket so it would be able to mix with the beer.  I siphoned the beer out of the glass carboy into the bottling bucket as well.  In a haste to bottle I forgot to stir the beer and sugar water together, so I am hoping it mixed together enough when I siphoned in the beer.

With the priming sugar and beer in the bottling bucket it was finally time to bottle!  The bottling bucket has a valve with a spout which you can bottle from, or you can attach some vinyl tubing and a bottling wand which is what I did.

After we filled and capped all the bottles we put them in a cool dark place to condition for 2-4 weeks.

2-22 Nacho Party

The time of year where we celebrate nachos in all of their glory.

Over the years this tradition has developed into almost a contest of sorts to see who can cook up the most creative nachos.  Past examples of creative nachos have been:  ice cream nachos, Mediterranean nachos, pizza nachos, breackfast nachos, nacho shakes (I regret!), ect.

Nice Rack

Into the CarboyI racked the brown ale to my glass carboy.  Everything seemed good.  Nothing nasty growing in the primary fermenter and no funky smells.  I had a small taste of the beer and it seemed a little strong, perhaps because I didn’t top off to 5 gallons when it was first brewed or maybe it just needs time.

Now I’ll wait for about 5-7 days and it will be time to bottle it!

Brewing Oldcastle Brown Ale

I noticed my dad had recently been drinking Newcastle so I figured why not make a Newcastle clone.  Not only that, I though it would be nice to compare how my beer turned out in comparison to the real thing.  Plus brown ales are easy to make and just plain tasty.

I bought the “Oldcastle” recipe kit from Midwest Supplies and it included everything you needed to brew:  Golden Light dry malt extract, pre-milled specialty grains (13oz Crystal 50/60 & 3oz Chocolate malt) plus a throw away grain bag, 1oz Challenger hops, 1oz Kent Golding hops, Irish Moss, a dry yeast pack, priming sugar, and directions.

We didn’t use any pre-filtered or natural spring water… just good old fashioned City of Orange municipal tap water.  Once we got the water temperature up to 155°F we steeped the grains for about 20 minutes.  We kept an eye on the temp making sure it didn’t rise or start to boil.  The smell was great.

Once the grains were done steeping we tossed them out and cranked up the heat to get a boil going.  After we achieved boiling we moved the brew pot off the burner in order to add the dry malt extract (DME).  While adding the malt we made sure to stir it in so it wouldn’t clump together or sink to the bottom of the pot and potentially burn.

With the malt extract fully disolved we returned the brew pot to the burner and got a boil going again.  This is when we added the Challenger bittering hops.   I personally like using a reusable hop bag because I don’t really think you need the hop pellets floating around in your beer.

In the last 15 minutes of the boil I added the Irish Moss which is a fining agent that helps take out unwanted cloudiness from your beer.  At this point I also went ahead and dropped in my stainless steel wort chiller in order to sterilize it in the boil.

At the last 10 minutes of the boil we added the Kent Golding aroma hops to the same nylon hop bag that the bittering hops were in.  We also started rehydrating the dry yeast at this point in a plastic water bottle.

Once the 60 minute boil was finally done we removed the pot from the burner and got the wort chiller going.  This was the first time I used an immersion chiller at my house so I basically made an ice bath in my sink with a submersible pond pump (258gph) which would pump the cold water into the wort chiller.  The chiller I have is a 25ft x 3/8″OD stainless steel coil which has clear vinyl tubing attached with hose clamps for entry of cold water and the exit of the hot water.

My original idea was to recirculate the water and try not to just let the hot water go to waste, but man when that water exits the wort chiller it is freakin’ hot!  We decided not to burn up all the ice and just let the hot water go down the drain and kept filling the “cold side” of the sink with cold water as needed.

We got the wort down to about 75°F from 199°F in about 20 minutes using this method. I think the only thing I might change is to use more ice packs next time and try to recirculate the water and eliminate the water waste.

With the wort chilled to yeast pitching temperature we transfered the wort from the brew pot into a sanitized primary bucket fermenter.  While we poured the wort from the pot into the bucket we used a sanitized strainer to eliminate any large sediments. Pouring the wort through the strainer also helped to aerate it. Before we pitched the yeast we took a hydrometer reading showing an original gravity (OG) reading at about 1.07, which I think is just about correct for a brown ale.  It was the first time I used a hydrometer so I’m not exactly sure if we took the reading correctly or not.

After taking the reading there was really only one thing left to do… pitch the yeast and seal up the fermenter.  We also drank the sample we used for the hydrometer reading and it was pretty tasty.  The beer should be ready to transfer to a carboy in 5-7 days.

I must say for the first complete brew I’ve done at my house I am pretty happy with the results so far and the processes we used.  Everything went smoothly.  We paid attention to temperatures and times.  We kept things organized, clean, and sanitized.  I think  one of the most important factors to a successful beer is having a clean and organized working space.  We will see if these efforts pay off in the end!