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Dry hopping = bad bottling

When I bottled my Dry Hopped Dead Guy Ale last week I ran into a problem. Bottling was almost a failure. Let me start off with the fact that this way my first dry hopped beer that didn’t have the hop leaves contained in a bag. Needless to say there were a lot of hop leaves floating around in the carboy. I didn’t think that this was going to be a problem, but my auto-siphon was continually getting clogged wit the leaves.

This clogging had two negative effects. The first was that it took forever to transfer from the carboy to the bottling bucket. The second was that it introduced a lot of air/bubbles into the line from the auto-siphon to the bottling bucket. Air is great when beer is just starting it’s fermentation, but not so good when it is finished. In fact, it is downright bad to have that much air introduced into the beer. The beer did turn out pretty tasty (at least what I tasted from the bottling bucket) but we will have to wait a few week for it to carbonate to see how it really turned out.

Next time I think about dry hopping I am going to be getting a stainless steel sleeve that hops the flowers and also fits perfectly into a carboy. It was a fun experiment and hopefully the results will reflect the fun.

Belgian Dubbel bottling

08-28-01I brewed my Belgian Dubbel on the 15 of August and got around to bottling it on Wednesday the 26th. All of the fermentation was complete and the beer just smelled wonderful. This is the first beer I have bottled in the new digs so it was a bit of guess and check to find the proper routine. I did eventually find something that worked for me. I also happened to use a lot of new products when I bottled this time.

I started off by putting 5 gallons of water into my bottling bucket. I then added the correct amount of Iodophor Sanitizer. This is the second beer that I have used this stuff on. The first one would be the Tripel. I also tossed a bunch of bottles into the bucket to get them sanitized. 08-28-02After a minute or so (I actually left them in for 5 just to be safe) I pulled them out and put them on the dishwasher rack. Then I put a new round of bottles in and repeated the steps. Finally I threw in my auto-siphon, hose, and bottle filler. I poured a gallon and a half of the sanitizer solution into a smaller bucket just so I had some on hand.

08-28-03I then got the beer out of the closet and started transferring it to the bottling bucket. In all it took about 5 minutes to transfer all of the beer over. Once transferred, I put the bottling bucket on the counter with the bottle filler handing over the edge. Grabbing my bottles I put carbonation drops into them. This is the first time I have used these and I am anxious to see the results. The package said put 3 for low carbonation, 4 for regular carbonation, and 5 for high carbonation. These drops are made up of corn sugar, heading powder, and a few other ingredients. I opted for 4 tabs, mainly because I want to get the Tripel done from the same packet. 08-28-04

So now the beer is being carbonated and should be ready to drink by next weekend. The final beer came out to 5.9% which falls .1 points away from the minimum alcohol percentage for the style. Do I care? Not really, they are just guidelines. I am pretty happy with it. If Austin Homebrew Supply hadn’t shorted me the 1/2 pound of grain, I would of easily fallen into the correct range. A review of the beer should be coming once it is ready to drink. I already like it raw, I can’t wait to drink it carbonated.

Tripel upate #2

08-17-01On Saturday I reracked my Tripel to a carboy and also brewed the Dubbel, which was pitched onto the yeast cake of the Tripel. I’ve been getting a stuck fermentation in my mini fermenter so I got my trusty refractometer out and took a reading from the real thing. Don’t you know it, that is stuck as well. Crap.

I pondered my options while it was transfering over and decided to boil some water with some corn sugar and pitch it in. I only used 2 tablespoons worth to try and jump start fermentation. On the plus side, it is tasting excellent. I don’t think it is going to be as strong as I had hoped, but the taste is there, and that is what is more important. You can’t tell from the picture, but the beer is starting to clear nicely. I’m going to leave it sit for another few weeks and test occasionaly to see if anything else happens. If not, I’ll be looking forward to my great tasting 5% Tripel. Crap.

Belgian Tripel update

08-09-02The Belgian Tripel is fermenting away and is my most active fermentation to date. Most of my brews go crazy for a day and a half and then the bubble subside and the yeast start working on all of the tough sugars left. The Tripel on the other hand, has been bubbling like crazy for the past two days and shows no signs of stopping.

What I generally do with my brews is take a clear bottle and put a small sample of wort into it. I then seal it up with a rubble stopper and airlock. Of course all of this is sanitized. I do this for two reasons, the first of which being that I can see what is going on in the fermenter on a small scale because it is all based off of the same wort and yeast in the larger fermenter. The second is that I don’t have to waste wort getting samples out and don’t have to risk contamination in doing so. My refractomer only requires a few drops of wort, so it does not make sense to open up the whole thing to get a little bit out. You can read more about my “mini fermenter” here.

08-09-01

When I first put the wort in the mini fermenter I noticed some seperation happening towards the bottom. I believe that it was the wheat malt dropping out and some of the reminents from the hop pellets. When I check the mini fermenter today there was no sediment at the bottom. There was a very active fermentation going on, almost violent. I was and still am thrilled that the fermentation seems to getting along so well with my concerns about the yeast. As of this morning, the fermentation seems to have peeked and the bubbles as coming to a slow (but the violence happening in the bottle is the same). I still haven’t taken any gravity readings yet but that should be coming along soon. I want to wait for all of the activity on the top to subside before doing so. I’ll update in a few days on the progress of the beer.