Saturday, 11 August 2007

Back into brewing

I've eventually got back into homebrewing after a bit of a disaster at the turn of the year.

My batch of Brewferm Abbey had a stuck fermentation and despite miving it to a warmer room, wrapping it in a pretty pink dressing gown and pitching more yeast it wouldn't budge, so I binned it and kind of lost heart.

However, I decided to give it another go a couple of weeks ago, so I went to my local homebrew shop and bought a Brewferm Diabolo kit and some other bits and bob as well as 8lb of strawberries from a local farm shop.

Two Saturdays ago (28th) I started the process of turning the Strawberries into wine (more detail in a future posting) and started my Brewferm kit.

This time I used a smaller fermenter and put it in the cupboard next to the hot water tank - after 10 days my FG was 1.010 so I spent Tuesday night bottling up my beer. The Brewferm instructions suggest leaving the beer for 8 weeks to mature from bottling, which means 2nd October is the big day of tasting!

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Hydrometer readings



I've had to take hydrometer readings of my beer quite frequently over the past few weeks. A tip I picked up on one of the forums is to use a sanitised turkey baster to extract the beer from the fermenter and transfer it to the trial jar this saves you from dipping the entire trial jar into the beer and possible infection.

On my first attempt at using this technique I discovered that pressing the bulb whilst the tube is in the beer causes bubbles and the introduction of oxygen into the beer - a definite no no.

the next time I used the Turkey baster I squeezed and held the bulb before it was put into the beer, this resulted in no bubbles.

Fermentation problems


I was due to bottle my Brewferm Abbey kit on Christmas eve. Last Saturday I took a hydrometer reading which came out at 1022, the recommended fg is 1010, after consulting with the guys on Jim's Beer Kit the bottling has been postponed.

The fermentation has stuck probably because I've allowed the temperature of the beer to fall to 15c at the last check.

I've moved my bin to a warmer room and wrapped it up in a pretty pink dressing gown.

If this allied to a little, gentle, agitation doesn't work then I'll have to pitch some more yeast.

I'm definitely going to invest in a fish tank heater before I start my next brew, this should allow me to keep things at a decent and consistent temperature.


This is only my third brew and the first time I've had this problem - I wonder whether this is because I have 9litres in a 22 litre bin making it hard to maintain liquid temperature?

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Blackford 1488 Whisky Ale

I think this may be the best bottled beer I've drunk. according to the label the ale is made using the same malted barley as goes into the Tullibardine Distillery single malt. The ale is matured in the oak casks that once held the single malt.
On reading the label I thought it was just a bit of a gimmick but it's not.
The ale has a cinnamon smell to it and when drunk has a whisky flavour and smoky aftertaste.
The label recommends drinking this ale with a whisky chaser - at 7% abv and according to my experiences last night following this advice would lead to a very short night indeed.
Overall this was light and refreshing.

Bottling

I Spent fifteen minutes the other night preparing a wine fermenter for bottling beer.


Hole saw attached to drill



The hole is cut


The tap is screwed into place



I used a hole saw to drill out the hole in the barrell then added a tap which I bought for a few pounds - the tap has a bottling stick attachment.

When I come to bottle I'll siphon the beer from the primary into the wine fermenter then I can add the priming sugar at this stage instead of each individual bottle.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Elbow Grease Works!



Just look at this!

I opened up my fermenting bin for a wee peek this morning (little more than 12 hours after pitching) and the yeast has run wild - it looks like an alien organism from a 1950's horror film.

Just goes to show - yeast starter + wort + lots of oxygen = great start

Brewferm Abbey 4

The final step is to pitch the yeast. Prior to pitching I rehydrated the yeast by putting it into a jug with 150ml of water warmed to 25c, left for 10 minutes then mixed into the wort.
At this stage it is important to give it all a good mix in order to get plenty of oxygen into the wort to aid the yeast in the fermentation process.
Some of the guys on Jim's Beer Kit Forum attach a paddle to an electric drill to aid this - again something I aim to get round to - for the moment I'm using elbow grease.