Sunday 18 December 2011

Still humble, and in need of a win

With morale slightly down, we started our fourth all-grain batch. The recipe was very similar to our first failed attempt, mostly 2-row with some medium crystal for the grain bill; a good dose of Simcoe as the bittering hop with Cascade for aroma and finishing. The goal was an IPA with some kick... and some carbonation.

With the modified mash tun working wonderfully, the brew day went very smoothly. We also got to try our new immersion wort cooling system for the first time! While somewhat of a pain to clean properly, it works great for chilling the wort after the boil. We've never really seen the cold break (unlike the hot break, which causes major goo creation), but should be getting it due to this great piece of equipment.

I heart cooper coils... also Kate Beckinsale.
Fermentation appeared to go as it was supposed to. We left it in the primary fermenter (plastic bucket) for a week, and then moved it to a secondary (glass carboy) for two weeks. It foamed and bubbled, and a solid sediment level built up at the bottom of the carboy. All good signs, as far as we know.  At the end of the two weeks, we got to try out our second set of new equipment (and the solution to our inability to achieve carbonation)... the kegging gear!

Kegging went very smoothly, and I'd definitely recommend it for others who brew at home. We might have a few cases of empty bottles that we'll never use again, but the time savings are well worth it. Oh, and I'm pretty sure we would have given up if another batch came out uncarbonated. Anyway, after a few hours of chilling and settling, we poured off the first pint and finally got the win we needed!

Foam!  YES!
It was a win, but after the initial joy passed we definitely noted some problems. It was really cloudy and had an underlying astringent taste that, while partially masked by the hops, was still very noticeable. That said, it was drinkable! And drink it we did.


  1. I'll admit, a few 'thank god's may have slipped out when we poured the first beer and it was carbonated properly.

  2. Yes, kegging is definitely the way to go, even if you end up bottling like I do. More control on the amount of carbonation and not as much waiting (more importantly!) There's a couple ways to clear it, do you use irish moss 15mins before the end of the boil? plus, after it's fermented (at least 10 days) you can move it into a cold cellar or fridge and cold crash it. By cooling it down to as close to freezing as you can get, lots of stuff will drop out, then you can rack it off into your keg. Just be sure if you have it in a carboy with an airlock, that you check religiously and top up the solution in the airlock. As it cools, it will condense and pull some into the beer, you don't want O2 getting in there. I usually put a cheap vodka in the airlock so if it goes into the beer no big deal. Better than sterilizing solution. Anyways, just a suggestion. Keep on brewing! Good luck!

  3. @Hoptomology: Thanks for the encouragement and helpful post! We didn't use a clarifying agent for the first two batches, but tried irish moss in our latest beer. It's still in the secondary, but it's already looking much clearer then our previous attempts. Updates on that will follow, as it moves into the keg next week.

    Chilling the beer sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately we're short on space. While not impossible, it'd would be very hard to take a keg of drinkable beer out of the kegerator to make room. Definitely something to remember for the future though.