Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beer-Making, Part 3: Bottling and Bubbling

After two weeks in the primary fermenter and one week in the secondary fermenter (officially called "carboys"), it was time to bottle James' honey blonde beer. We hot-washed and essentially baked the bottles to sterilize them for bottling.

All of these beer bottles in the dishwasher remind me of the Cathedral of Junk!
James found a few more self-topping bottles after we'd run the wash, so he washed them himself using a very cool (if very leaky) bottle-washing attachment for the sink.

Water violence!
At this point, we had to boil two cups of water, then dissolve sugar in that and boil it for another minute, then cool the liquid down to 80 degrees. The sugar's job is to reactivate the yeast. This is what will eventually carbonate the beer.
Enjoying an earlier incarnation of Jamesbeer.
James explained what we had done so far to bring Daphne up to speed, then it was time to move the beer out of the carboy and into the container we were going to use for bottling.

A good pump on the siphon, and we're off! The sugar water was already in the bottom of the bucket.

You siphon rather than pour the beer to 1) keep air out of it and 2) keep the yeast at the bottom of the carboy.

Ready for service!
James has a tap for the 5-gallon bucket, and a neat attachment for the end of the tube. The attachment is fitted so that you press it to the bottom of the bottle, and as long as it's depressed to the bottom, it is open. Once the beer reaches the top of the bottle, you pull up on the device, and it closes. When you pull the tube out, it leaves just enough space at the top of the bottle.

Then the non-self-closing bottles have to be capped.

He's working so hard!

Mmm! Yes! I do love me some beer. (This is a lie. I do love my husband and enjoy making things in the kitchen.)

Measuring the specific gravity of a sample, to check the alcohol content of the brew.

Now we just have to wait three weeks or so while the stuff carbonates. James said the flavor has mellowed a lot since a week ago, when it was pretty hoppy. He said now it's getting closer to a light summer beer. We'll see in a few weeks!

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