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The next task for the weekend was getting the Stout bottled. Having got the laborious job of cleaning all the bottles done, I added 60 grams of sugar to some freshly boiled water and stirred it until it was dissolved. I went for 60 in the hope it would come out a little less fizzed than my previous brews as I thought this would better suit a stout. I then very gently mixed this into the stout, and left it to settle.

While I left the beer to allow the sediment to settle down again, I set about knocking up some quick labels. I was happy to keep them fairly similar to previous ones:

Once these had been designed, printed and cut down to size, I was ready to bottle. I went for the same setup as I had done previously, with the beer on the kitchen side and a tube attached to the tap, bottles lined up along side the capper and caps, labels, milk and a brush. The process went very smoothly, leaving me with 45 bottled John Bull Masterclass Irish Stouts.

After filling the last bottle, I filled a small glass with the dregs. Even flat, and a fraction cloudy, this smelt and tasted wonderful. It had a delicious deep coffee flavour. If the final brew tastes as good as this glass, this will be an awesome beer.

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At last I finally had a free weekend, so I had lots of brew related stuff to do. I started by bottling the Strawberry wine which has been clearing for about a month. I had already knocked up some labels:

As it had been my girlfriend who had wanted me to brew this wine, I decided she could take pride of place on the label.

So, back to the bottling. I soaked 3 full sized wine bottles, 6 half sized bottles and 3 third sized bottles in sanitising solution. I shouldn’t need them all, but i wanted to be prepared just in case. I rinsed these, lifted the demijohn onto the kitchen side and inserted the syphon. The syphon had a tap at the end, and I didn’t have any tubing to put on the end of this and insert into the bottles, so I decided I would just insert the end of the tap in the bottle and hold it on the edge to minimise bubbles. I started the syphon with a quick suck, and we were off.

The first bottled filled without any problems at all. I had previously purchased a corker, but this would be the first time I used it, so wasn’t sure how easy it would be.

I had already placed some corks in a bowl of warm water to soften, so I inserted one of these into the corker, placed the pincers over the top of the bottle, and squeezed the handles. Effortlessly the cork went into the bottle. Easy 🙂

I continued with the next two bottles without any problems. However, the forth bottle wouldn’t fill. The syphon stopped sucking wine through, and even another suck on the end of the tube couldn’t get it going again. This was a real pain given I was dealing with such a small amount of wine (compared to the beer) and I really didnt want to damage over half the batch. I decided to remove the tap and see if it would come through better. It did, but too quickly now. It raced into the bottle filling a full-sized in a couple of seconds. I tried to stem the flow by squeezing the tube, but this just increased the speed the wine came out at, so I grabbed the next bottle and filled that. I continued until the wine dropped below the level of the syphon in the demijohn. All of the wine filled without the tap was massively aerated of course. I’m really hoping this doesn’t adversely affect the wine too much. I had a taste of the wine that was syphoned without problems and it tasted great. It wasn’t a very strong strawberry taste, but it was a lovely subtle and light rose style wine. It would be horrible if half the batch was ruined. I did taste some from the aerated batch, and this too tasted ok so fingers crossed. When I tried to lower the syphon in the demijohn to bottle the last bit I only succeeded in disturbing all the sediment, so I called it a day with the equivalent of 5 full bottles filled.

Having corkered all the bottled I then attached the labels and placed the bottles on the wine shelf (well it is now) in the brewery.

Tasting the IPA

My first brew has now had over two months in the bottle. After throwing away the Light as detailed in the post below, I decided to see how the IPA is now. I opened one of the beers bottled in the cheap lager bottles (and my initial suspicions with these bottles is that they don’t develop the flavour quite as well as the thicker bottles, but its too earlier to tell really – and Im not sure if there could be any logical reason for this). The initial sweetness had mellowed nicely, so while still a little sweet, it is no longer overly so. It is definitely a refreshing summer beer. There is a noticeable subtle taste that reflects the fine flavour Phil’s IPA produced, but mine doesn’t have the depth or breadth of flavours he produced from the same kit.

Overall, I’m not too disappointed with this brew. I was my first brew, it suffered from major temperature problems because of the heating issues in my house, and it has still produced something pleasant and drinkable.

The real test will be of the stout that I will hopefully bottle at the weekend – another brew where Phil and I have done the exact same brew. If this one doesn’t turn out similar to Phil’s, I will start playing around with my brewing, warm week and maturing temperatures to see if I can improve the final product.

Oh dear 😦 Phil and I cracked open the first 2 bottles of the 3 week old Linthwaite Light. It is not good. I find it hard to describe it, other than to say it had a very cheap beer taste and smell. There was a, perhaps yeasty, taste that hits you almost before its even in your mouth and then very little else after that. Phil politely finished his pint, but I ended up chucking mine down the sink. It doesn’t really have much of a green taste so Im not even that hopeful tat it will improve dramatically with age, but I shall leave it well alone now for probably another month and see if anything good comes of it. (My judgement probably wasn’t helped by having just finished a bottle of Phil’s Colne Valley which was really good, and having just returned from a trip to Brussels and all the fine beer that comes with that.)

[edited]

I forgot to mention that this was the brew that spent 6 weeks in the fermenter – I don’t know if this could be part of the problem with this brew.

Having got back from a weekend away, I decided to do a quick check on the Stout, to check that the gravity was still falling:

Second Stout Gravity Reading

Disappointedly, I took this to be another reading of 1.013 meaning no more movement. I know Phil got down to 1.012 and ideally I’d like to be a fraction lower, therefore I gave the brew a gentle stir for a minute and will give it another reading in a couple of days.

I did take a bit of a risk with the stirrer – given it never fits in the sink properly anyway, and Im never convinced the kitchen sink is likely to be bacteria free, I opted to carefully pour a full kettle of boiling water over the stirrer, rather than soaking it in sanitising solution. I hope this will be fine.

I did note that the Stout already had a very strong smell. Given my poor sense of smell I couldn’t put my finger on what it was – though it wasn’t particularly unpleasant. My missus could smell if from the next room within 30 seconds of me taking the top of the bucket it was so strong. There was also a slight but noticeable greasy residue on the surface of part of the beer. Hopefully this is nothing untoward.

I recently did some research into whether the 6 weeks that my previous brew spent in the fermenting bucket was too long (mostly on Jims Beer Forum – see my blogroll). It is clear that while modern yeast should be fine for up to a couple of months all being well, its certainly not advisable. I’m therefore keen to bottle my brews from now on as soon as they are finished fermenting. Therefore after a week and a half I wanted to take a look how the stout is doing:

I measured the gravity at 1.013. I didn’t take an original gravity reading as I was kicking it off in a rush, but this seems pretty close already to where it needs to be. I know Phil (see my blog roll) recently bottled this same brew at 1.012. (We had a first taste of it yesterday and despite tasting a little green still, its already good after just a month.)

I will take another reading of my stout sometime in the near future , and if it hasn’t moved further I will give it a gentle stir and the bottle once it is definitely not moving any further.

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

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.

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.

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