Update Feb. 1, 2015. Racking day! Click here to skip to today's update!
The weather was fair today, so I decided to boil my latest batch of home brew. It's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies, and it makes a great beer. Mind you...it's been 4 years since I made my last batch, but this was one of my my standard brews before I moved. Now that I'm getting back into the groove, I wanted to start out with one of my comfort brews. :) And, I thought I'd share a few photo's of this batch along the way. So, here's my kit. As you can see, it's an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies. Years ago, back in the 90's I think, I used to buy from Austin Homebrew, but the shipping from Texas was just to far. I found Midwest, and didn't look any further. If any of you know of a supplier closer to Virginia that's on par with Midwest in service and supply, let me know. I'm always looking out for more local suppliers. I'll not get into the details of the kit...primarily because I didn't think to take a photo until after I already had everything on the boil. As you can see, I brew using all my water, not a small batch, because I find that small water boils tend to want to burn the sugars. I have a big propane burner I use for this. And a big 6 gal. stainless steel sauce pot. After an hour of boiling, it's ready to cool. I learned early that a wort chiller is worth the money. Or make your own of the you have the materials laying around. Cooling the wort quickly improves the flavor of the beer, and, a wort chiller is the quickest, easiest way to cool it as far as I know. I wouldn't brew beer without one. Here I've got everything cooled to under 80º, in my sanitized fermenting bucket, and my brewers yeast sprinkled on top. There's a blue million options with yeast, and I used to use liquid yeast, (and I probably will again in the future..just my preference), but I wanted simple for this first batch after such a long break. And dry yeast is simple and generally dependable. If I wasn't using a kit, or I was experimenting with ingredients, I would have measured the specific gravity before I added the yeast. But for these kits I generally don't. I used too, when I first started brewing beer. (I always do when I'm making wine.) But these kits are fool proof pretty much. As long as you follow the directions, most of the time, nothing will go wrong. I've never had a kit batch go bad...well...not so bad I didn't drink it anyhow. :) And here we are, all settled. Here it'll sit for one week, fermenting. Next Sunday I'll rack it over into a glass carboy so it can both complete the fermentation of any sugars left, and the clear up. In about 2 or 3 days I should see it begin working pretty good. I'll pop back in here next week and update the post when I rack it. See ya!!!
Update Feb. 1, 2015. Racking day!
OK, so here we are a week later and ready to rack our beer!
First things first. I got all my equipment and carboy out, cleaned and sanitized. Just like cooking, good prep work makes the task a lot easier. All I'm using today is some hose, my siphon, and a Betty Crocker cookbook to tilt my fermenting bucket. :)
Got the siphon going here. Had this been Summer or Fall, I'd have had a towel over everything. Gnats come out of the woodwork during this phase of the job. I don't care if you never see any gnats in your house, when you start this, they'll be all over you. And you don't want that in your beer contaminating it. Generally you want to fill the carboy up enough so that there's very little exposed to air in the neck, but leave enough that if you happen to have had some sugars not fermented yet, they can finish up without overflowing and making a mess.
All done now, and with a fresh clean air trap. The color doesn't look that good in these photos due to the flash, but it's a nice dark red, and next week when we bottle it, it'll be cleared up real nice. This part of the process is really quick and painless. Other then the cleaning up part. :)
So, that's it for this week, next week, it's bottling time!!