Friday, December 5, 2008

first brew, part 3

I devoured the first edition of How To Brew and immediately ordered the third edition in hardcopy. I was soon convinced that my future brewing would be with the standard equipment rather than The Beer Machine.

By Saturday the machine had leaked to the level of the seal. It bubbled through the weekend, though, telling me that at least the yeast was doing something. But by Monday it had stopped.

I talked at length with a buddy at work who is an experienced homebrewer. I enumerated some of the more obvious errors and potential problems:

  • the fermenting container leaks
  • the water was not boiled
  • the yeast was not adequately proofed
  • no hops
  • no original gravity measurement

Still stubbornly determined to use only what I had on hand, I stated that I didn't think I could dry-hop with the pellets. He suggested making a hop tea from the pellets and adding it to the wort, as well as doing a little taste test to see whether fermentation was complete or stalled.

On the way home from work I stopped by The Cellar and picked up their deluxe mini-brewery kit. I asked about the speed with which fermentation seemed to have stopped and was told that it was a highly variable process, and that three days was not out of the question.

Monday night I gave it a taste and found that it was not bad! I mean that literally: It did not have any unpleasant flavors. However, neither was it something one might seriously consider drinking even as an alternative to Coors Light. But it was no longer sweet, so it appeared that the yeast had done its job. I took a reading with my new hydrometer and found a pretty high specific gravity of about 1.014. I extracted about a pint of wort and boiled about eight hop pellets into a green sludge. Back into the wort it went. I probably didn't boil it for long enough, and probably didn't cool it adequately before pouring it in.

Tuesday night the specific gravity was unchanged. I took that as a sign that fermentation was complete, although it was still fairly cloudy. I used Munton's active brewing yeast, which I believe is a low-flocculation yeast, which I believe might result in less clarity. I need to do more reading about that.

Wednesday would be bottling day!

No comments: