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Archive for March, 2008

Having finally bottled the Light, I can get this Stout going. I wanted to do a stout to start giving me a real choice of ale types in the future. I chose this one as I read that it was the closest stout kit to Guinness. I doubt it will come out anything like it, but much to the missus’s annoyance, I still went for this over the Chocolate Stout (She doesn’t even like stout, but it has the word Chocolate in the name 😉 ). Phil (see my blogroll) has just bottled his attempt at the same brew, so it will be interesting to see how ours compare.

Stout Can

As soon as I finished bottling the Light I emptied the bucket, scrubbed off the obvious dirt and then filled it with sanitising solution. After rinsing it out with cold water I poured in the wort from the tin and added two 1.7 litre kettles of hot water to it (which now that I do the maths is considerably more than the 2.5 litres I was supposed to add, but I can’t imagine that matters greatly.) I also used a little of the hot water to rinse out the tin as best I could without making a complete mess. With freshly boiled water, it dissolved fairly quickly. I then went about filling up the rest of the bucket with cold water. I did this by continually filling a jug with water from the tap on the assumption that this brew, like the others, requires the wort to be aerated well. This aerates the water as it fills the jug, and then I also poured the water in quickly and from a height.

When the bucket was almost full, I measured the temperature to check it was between 21 and 16 degrees as instructed. It was 20 degrees, so I continued filling it with cold water. However, I did slightly overfill it, but hopefully this won’t dilute the stout too much, and also, hopefully it won’t foam over the side during the initial fermentation. I followed the extremely brief instructions by sprinkling the yeast on top and stirring it in. I was worried this might caught lumps as happened with the IPA when I just sprinkled in the yeast, and although there were initially some small lumps, these seemed to break up after a good stir.

Finally, I gently rested the lid on the bucket and placed it in the brewery. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this comes out. It already looks good 🙂

Prepared Stout

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Yesterday I finally got round to bottling my second home brewed beer. It had been about 6 weeks since I first started it going, so hopefully it will come out ok.

I started off by knocking together a new set of labels:

Linthwaite Light Label

I wanted to make the label a little different on each brew, so while the basic label layout is the same, the logo (shown above) is slightly different. I printed out 6 sheets of 8 labels and during breaks in other preparation, I cut them neatly down to size.

I lifted the brewing bucket onto the work surface in the kitchen and tried to attach the sanitised tube to the tap. I found it hard to put on and came across another useful tip – pouring a little recently boiled water over just the end of the tubing loosened it up a lot, and it easily slipped over the tap then.

When bottling my first brew I found that adding the sugar to the bucket worked well rather than the faff of priming each bottle individually, so I decided to repeat it this time. The first brew has ended up being fairly fizzy – probably too fizzy for an ale, but given this latest brew is supposed to be fairly light, I’m hoping that a similar amount of fizz this time will make for a very nice relaxing summer drink. Therefore, I added 80 grams of brewing sugar to a sanitised jug and added just enough freshly boiled water to cover it, and stirred it until all the sugar had dissolved. Having covered the jug with cling film and made a few holes in it, I popped it in the microwave until it started to boil again, just to ensure it was sanitised. I then left this to cool and later slowly added it to the bucket, very gently stirred all the time.

And then, onto the laborious job of cleaning the bottles 😦 Even with the bottle tree, this is still a slow and boring job, but given I had cleaned and rinsed all the bottles when I first got them, I felt a soak in sanitising solution and a good rinse was sufficient for each bottle. Some time later, I had 45 clean bottles ready to fill. With the last few bottles, I also dropped 45 caps into the sanitising solution, and then rinsed them off ready for use.

I took a quick gravity reading before starting the bottling:

Light Final Gravity

I took this to be a reading of 1.010, which surprisingly had therefore dropped a little after I stirred up a little of the yeast a few days ago. However, after 6 weeks, I decided not to wait any longer to check it had finished. Hopefully this wont come back to get me later. At 1.010, this has now reached the upper limit of the target final gravity, so hopefully this won’t be as sweet as the IPA.

As before, I setup a nice conveyor belt, of filling, capping, and then labelling (applied with milk of course):

Light Bottling Process

I had originally decided to use about half proper thick-glassed bottles, and half the thinner lager bottles (after none of them exploded last time 🙂 ) but when I realised I had enough proper bottles to do them all, I decided to just do a test sample of 5 thin bottles again, to further assess them.

Finally, some considerable time later (it somehow took me over 3 hours from starting the labels to being completely finished) I finally had 45 Linthwaite Lights bottled, capped and labelled:

Bottled Linthwaite Light

For the more astute of you, yes – I did take this picture before I finished, hence there only being 37 bottles in the photo.

Given the missus and I needed to make room in the kitchen for the imminent arrival of our first dishwasher, it made sense to store all our beer in The Brewery, so with the addition of the Linthwaite Light it now looks like this:

The Brewery

Its slowly starting to look like a brewery. When I get time, I’ll be adding the wine and champers we have to the top shelf, and somewhere I’m sure there is some more commercial ale, but for now, I’m pretty happy with it.

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Just a quick post to confirm that last night I did add the second part of the finings – the chitosan – to the Merlot. The sachet for this was slightly larger than for the kieselsol. I shook the contents for 10 seconds again, before replacing the airlock and returning the demijohn to the brewery room where it will sit for at least 2 or 3 weeks before I bottle (hopefully) nice clear wine.

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Following the instructions, I took the gromit out of the demijohn and poured in the small sachet of clear liquid labelled kieselsol. I took the airlock out of the gromit, replaced the gromit in the demijohn and with my thumb over the hole, I shook it for 10 seconds. I then replaced the airlock and returned the wine to the brewery for another 24 hours before adding the second sachet, this time of chitosan.

Adding the Kieselsol to the Merlot

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On Friday, I decided it was time for a quick check on the status of my second home brewed beer, before going away for the weekend. I dropped the hydrometer in and went to look for my camera to take a picture. Unfortunately, I had already packed it, and my phone doesn’t have a flash, so the pictures were not good:

Linthwaite Light fermentation

I took the reading as 1.012. I noted that the 1.012 line was just about the last thing visible before the bubbles covered the hydrometer. The target gravity, as stated in the instructions, is 1.010 or less. While checking the instructions just now for my blog, I note that it also suggests stirring the beer a little if it hasn’t quite reached target, to re-suspend some of the yeast. Given there were still bubbles noticeable on Friday (and still are today) so I can assume it is still just about fermenting, I will now sanitise the stirrer, and give it a go. My first brew finished a few points high, and it is noticeably sweet, so I’d love to get it down some more. I will also place the towel that I wrap around the bucket on the radiator for a short while in the hope of encouraging the yeast along.

Stirring the Linthwaite Light

Stirring completed, I will give the beer a few days before measuring it again.

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24 hours after wracking the Strawberry, and a couple of days after wracking the Merlot, I was continuing to shake the wines as often as I remembered. This involved simply removing the airlocks and covering the hole with a cleaned thumb and shaking until it stopped fizzing when I removed my thumb (or until I got bored, which ever came first).

Shaken Wines

Following the instructions, this would be the last shaking of the Strawberry, and given my busy weekend, tomorrow would be the last shaking of the Merlot. The Strawberry will now sit for a few weeks until it is completely clear, where the Merlot will tomorrow have the finings added before also being left to clear.

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Racking the Strawberry

Having given the Strawberry another 11 days after it seemed to have got to the edge of its target gravity, I decided it was time to wrack it to the secondary demijohn. Like the Merlot, I decided to take a gravity reading anyway, which was again easiest from a picture:
Strawberry Final Gravity

The gravity was really hard to read, but it definitely wasn’t any lower than the 1.008 I had measured last time.

Day Time per bubble (secs) Gravity
0 infinite  
1 8  
3 4 1062
6 1.5  
12 50  
19 103 (after hydrometer reading) 1.008
30 103 (after hydrometer reading) 1.008

In fact, I even thought the gravity might be 1.009, so I’m not sure if that suggests a misread last time, or perhaps the gravity has dropped with the clearing of the wine. Speaking of which, the wine was already very clear, and was noticeably lighter in colour than the Merlot, which was a very dark red.

Anyway, onto the racking. I had sterilized the demijohn that had previously contained the Merlot, as well as the tubing, a grommit and an airlock. I placed the wine on the side in the kitchen, and positioned the empty demijohn in the washing up bowl on the floor. (I actually placed the washing up bowl on top of my wine making tool box so that the tubing would reach to the bottom of the demijohn.) I again sinned by sucking to get the wine going, and away it went, again without so much as a sip of win for me. 😦 As it got near the end, I very gently tipped the demijohn in order to get a little more of the clear wine off the top of the sediment.

Wracked Strawberry

I tried to pour a little of the remaining wine from the nearly empty demijohn into a glass to taste, but as soon as I moved the demijohn the sediment mixed with the clear wine to turn it very sludgy. I was impressed at just how much the wine had cleared, and how well the stiff tubing had taken the wine from above the sediment without disturbing it.

The instructions suggested mixing the stabiliser with a couple of tablespoons of water and then adding it to the primary demijohn. As I was wracking to a secondary to remove much of the sediment, I actually added the stabiliser into the empty demijohn before wracking the wine into it. As instructed, I then added the Strawberry flavouring to the wine. This took the form of a small clear sachet containing a surprisingly small amount of red liquid. Unlike with the Merlot, the instructions then told me to add the finings straight away, before shaking the demijohn vigorously for a few minutes. I must then shake it on at least 6 occasions over the next 24 hours, before leaving it a few weeks to clear. I wondered whether the difference between this and the Merlot (where I hat to add just the stabiliser and shake the contents regularly over 3 days before adding the finings and then leaving to clear) was a genuine difference, or just lazier instructions given with a cheaper kit where it wouldn’t make much difference, and might be being made by a less professional brewer.

I found after a few minutes of shaking, the wine stopped fizzing when I removed my thumb.
shaken Strawberry Wine

I replaced the airlock and placed the demijohn back in the brewery, with the intention of shaking it a few times over the next 24 hours.

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With Phil and another mate, Chris, round on Tuesday, I decided it was time to crack open a few more bottles of the IPA, and see how its doing at the 4 week (since bottling) stage. I seem to be swinging back and forth with my thoughts on my first brew as I’m back to being a bit disappointed. It hasn’t really changed since last week, so while it is nicely fizzy, and with a pleasant and mild taste, it still doesn’t have the depth of taste that Phil’s IPA had. I’m comforting myself with the fact that the best of his were at least a couple of months old. It still looks pretty good though:

3rd Taste of Munton’s IPA

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I decided the time had finally come to rack the Merlot – the first home brewed wine I had tried. I decided to take a hydrometer reading, even though I expected to see little or no movement and would wrack it anyway. I took a picture for future reference:

Merlot Reading

It was hard to get a reading as I couldn’t see through the glass clearly, and the opening of the demijohn was very tight. Zooming in on the photograph was actually the best way of deciding on a reading. I put it down as 0.995.

Day Time per bubble (secs) Gravity
0 infinite 1.078
3 2
5 9
9 15
12 18
15 30
21 55 1.000
24 infinite (after hydrometer reading) 0.998
27 infinite 0.997
34 infinite 0.996
44 infinite 0.995

As I said, I was determined to wrack it anyway. Its had a long time in primary now and I don’t think the gravity is going anywhere now.

Having sanitised some tubing, a gromit and an airlock, I placed the full demijohn on the work surface, and a freshly sanitised demijohn on the floor in the washing up bowl (to catch any spillage). I had a couple of different bits of tubing, with and without taps, but having had a bit of a play with syphoning earlier I decided that I couldn’t find a way of starting the syphon without sucking anyway, so I went for a basic tube connected to a stiff tube with a hole a couple of centimetres from the bottom. This stiff tube goes into the full demijohn and the hole allows the clear wine to be syphoned off while leaving the sediment at the bottom.

The instructions actually didn’t mention transferring to a secondary container, but given the next steps were to help with clearing the wine, it seemed sensible to rack it at this point. I committed the sin of starting the syphoning by sucking, and quickly putting the end into the demijohn. It worked perfectly, sadly so well I didn’t even get a taste of the wine. The only problem I found was that I left a little more wine in the original demijohn than I wanted, but after a second attempt to collect a little more failed, I decided I would rather lose a glass of wine than ruin all the wine so left it alone.

Returning to the instructions, I poured the contents of the sachet labelled Stabiliser into the demijohn, placed the sanitised grommit in the opening, and with my cleaned thumb over the opening I shook the bottle for several minutes to release the co2. Whenever I removed my thumb, there was a strong hiss of co2 escaping, so I continued shaking until no fizz occurred. I then placed the airlock into the grommit.

Wracked Merlot

I will repeat the shaking several times a day for the next 3 or 4 days as instructed before adding the ingredients that make up the finings.

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I have decided to box up some of the Munton’s IPA, in order to ensure that at least some of it lasts for a few months. This should allow me the freedom to pinch a beer when I fancy one, but still allow me to learn how my beer tastes after a longer maturing period.
Boxed Muntons IPA

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