Sunday, February 28, 2010

Minor Setback

Ah! Yesterday my hydrometer fell off the table in its "protective" container and promptly shattered-before I could take the SG reading. Hopefully I can acquire one today and get to bottling today or, I am so impatient though!

Friday, February 26, 2010

First Taste!

The brew has been fermenting for 6 days and has cleared considerably in the carboy, with very slow bubble action, so I took a hydrometer reading today just to see how it was coming. Obviously, if the reading is the same tomorrow, it is time to bottle! I baked the bottles in the oven for sanitation today (this was a really good way to make sure they are sanitized, in fact, it sterilizes them!) and hope to fill them up tomorrow.

The specific gravity was a little high, but it was even a little high when I first racked it, so we'll see tomorrow if it's right or not. BUT IT ACTUALLY TASTED GOOD!!! Even though it was flat and not yet aged, there was a nice hoppy fresh floral bitterness to it with a great sweet maltiness that balanced it out REALLY WELL. I can't wait to see how this finishes up.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Damn those Amstel bottles

For those homebrewers out there, you may know that the acquiring of bottles can be an interesting decision to make, since buying *just* bottles can be a bit over-expensive, so I opted to (along with my family and their friends) just drink a little over two cases of beer in the last month or two and use the Papazian method of soaking the bottles in an ammonia solution overnight to get rid of the labels. After the overnight ammonia bath, every bottle of beer that I had drunk was lying in the cooler with the (paper) labels pretty much already falling off. HOWEVER, my parents have a liking for light beer, which I respect and understand. In a quest to buy them a quality light beer with a removable label that was not a twist-off, I suggested Amstel Light, which turned out to be a bad choice. Amstel bottles have plastic labels that are basically seamlessly superglued onto the bottles. The impermeable plastic makes it impossible for the ammonia solution to wear down the glue and make the label fall off, so needless to say, I had a bitch of a time killing my fingernails to peel the labels off. They are now soaking to get the rest of the glue off. The moral of this story, kids, is to buy bottles with paper labels when you plan to use them for homebrewing. No matter, at least I now have 50+ beautiful brown bottles ready to fill with DELICIOUS ALE come this weekend. But I am now totally turned off of Amstel.

Sidenote: there was a sixer of Sam Adams Light in the mix, and that has paper labels (and tastes much better than Amstel). Should have just stuck with that, goshdurnit.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some color, some clearing

Fermentation is slowing, yeast sedimentation is occurring. I have been soaking the bottles in an ammonia solution to make the labels fall off, and so far this has worked well (except for the damn Amstel Light bottles, that have plastic labels that are basically superglued on...they could be tricky). The yeast is starting to carry out its full process and sedimentation is beginning, and though the beer is hazy, I'm beginning to be able to see what its true color will be AAAAND...

OMIGODYOUGUYS. The color is beautiful. It's now manifesting itself as a caramelly, nutty, dark amber. EFFING BEAUTIFUL. More updates to come soon! I will be bottling this weekend.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Beer, First Post

As this week neared an end, I finally boiled up a wort and brewed my first beer. I decided to forgo the JV homebrewing step of doing a beer-in-a-can kit and went for a real recipe, and with the help of my local homebrew store owner (Jeff of Jasper's Homebrew in Nashua, who happens to be a damn genius), developed a recipe for an ESB (English -or Extra- Special Bitter) ale, one that I picked because it is an easy, satisfying style of beer that is drinkable within about 2 weeks of brewing. I anticipated being pretty anxious to taste this, my first brew, so I wanted to go with one of the quicker brews (I also thought about doing a brown ale...maybe next time). The boil and cooling went off without any issues, and my sanitizing was thorough. The recipe I used was as follows:

4.4 lbs Munton's light malt extract syrup combined with:
1.1 lbs Munich malt extract syrup
1.1 lbs Wheat malt extract syrup (these came mixed together)
3 oz 40L crystal malt
3 oz 90L crystal malt
1 measly oz of black patent malt for color
1/3 oz Burton water salts (one package, these are the minerals from the water in the region where this style of beer is most often brewed...pretty awesome!)
English style ale yeast

The beer had an OG (starting specific gravity/density) of around 1.056 and racked up a beautiful dark amber color. I took a picture with my phone this morning of the beer, cloudy with activity, which was showing a nice foamy kraeusen and bubbling away constantly.

Simply beautiful :)

I am already thinking about my next beer, and probably plan to rack something that takes a little longer to ferment so that I can brew it and let it ferment during the time that I spend enjoying my current brew. I'm probably either going to take the route of IPA or California Common (steam beer)...should be exciting.