Saturday, March 7, 2009

third brew (african amber ale), part 4

Bottling day for the Mac & Jack's African Amber clone! I ran down to The Cellar to pick up a bottle tree (they had none in stock last time), corn sugar, and bottle caps. Cleaned 45 12 ounce bottles and several of the EZ Cap bottles with PBW, watched the Huskies beat the Cougars to win their first PAC-10 basketball title in over 50 years, then gathered the gear.

The bottle tree is a great convenience. Compact, portable, and mating with the Vinator is really handy, saving quite a bit of time in the whole process of washing, drying, sanitizing, filling, and capping.

The gravity hadn't changed from last time. Clarity was superb. I wonder to what degree that's due to the use of the Irish moss.

Dissolved four ounces of corn sugar in about a quart of the beer on the stove, not quite bringing it to a boil.

Siphoned without any difficulty from the carboy to the cleaned and sanitized bottling bucket, other than that the racking cane left a distressing amount of beer behind.

I should get another case or two of EZ Cap bottles. Now that the hardware is installed I see just how convenient they are. It still makes sense to use regular bottles for sharing purposes, but that doesn't need to be for more than half a batch.

So, for the major dope move this time: I realized while picking up bottle 7 that bottles 2 - 6 had not been squirted with sanitizer! I didn't know which was number 1, so I labeled each cap with an US to indicate its alarmingly unsanitary state. It will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be a problem.

After draining the bottling bucket I poured the last bit from the carboy through coffee filters and extracted most of the remaining hops and yeast. This amounted to 16 more ounces, which I bottled last and labeled Dregs. I'll be curious to see how it turns out. Ah, and now it occurs to me that it has no bottling sugar. I'll have to open it up and drop in a bit. I expect it will be fine if poured carefully after settling.

I pulled the hop bag through the neck of the carboy with only slight difficulty. As far as I know there's no problem with it having been dry hopping this entire time (three weeks). The ale strikes me as very, very good.

The final count was 45 twelve ouncers plus 5 of the EZ Cap 16 ouncers. I'm now sold on the shorter bottles from Sierra Nevada Pale and Hales's Big Amber. They are more convenient to work with and store, and the deeper shoulder is better for pouring these bottle-conditioned beers. I didn't have quite enough. Better get busy.

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