Crafting IRL: Drinking

After the brewing and the bottling, there’s the waiting, and then the drinking. After bottling a homebrew it takes about two weeks for the yeast in the bottle to carbonate the beer.

I usually try a beer around that point to see how it tastes. With stouts, it’s recommended to wait another two weeks to age a bit, and I like to have a before to compare to the after.

This beer was bottled June 12th, so it’s almost six weeks old now. The first beer I drank (around the 27th) was well carbonated but the taste wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, it was a little too sweet and felt a little thin. Happily, the beer I’m having tonight is much better, it’s still got some sweetness to it but it’s balanced better with the bitterness and leaves a nice aftertaste in the mouth.

That’s one of the great things about bottle conditioned beers, usually if they’re a bit off you can just let the yeast work a little longer on it.

Crafting IRL: Bottling

Last week I left off with my beer just starting fermentation (which was May 29th). Checking on the fermenter a few hours later, I was seeing a few bubble in the airlock already. This is good, the bubbles are CO2 and it means that fermentation has started. At this point, things get pretty easy: check on the fermenter once a day or two, make sure the temperature is reading around 70F and see if the airlock is still producing bubbles.

Some time between 7 and 10 days the fermentation is usually done. In this case by the following Sunday, there no bubbles in the airlock but my weekend was a bit busy, so I put off bottling until the following weekend (June 12th). It’s not a good idea to leave beer in the primary fermenter longer than two weeks because the beer can start to pickup astringent flavors from the yeast at the bottom of the bucket. Some beers require secondary fermentation or just additional time, and that’s when people will siphon over to a secondary fermenter (usually glass). Making a low gravity, low alcohol, stout is pretty forgiving though. (more…)

Crafting IRL: Brewing

Besides PC and console games, reading books, and sleeping, I like beer. I’m not talking about PBR (be thankful if you don’t know what that is) or Bud Lite, I’m talking about the good stuff: Guinness and micro-brews and such. I don’t drink a lot, and haven’t had a hangover in years, but I do enjoy a good beer or two.

I’ve wanted to try making my own beer for a long time, but I always thought it required having a basement because it would stink up the apartment or house and required cool temperatures. Neither one of these is true. Well the temperature thing can be true if you’re making a lager but it’s not true for making ales.

I started brewing in 2007 and have done seven batches (mostly stouts). I’m an extract brewer, which is a little easier than all-grain and requires less equipment and skill.

I realized recently that I hadn’t brewed in quite a while (August 2008), let’s blame fatherhood for that although it’s probably just laziness, so last month I decided it was time to get back to it and picked Saturday, May 29th.┬áMy favorite recipe that I’d made so far was a milk stout which is called that because it has milk sugar in it, lactose, which yeast cannot convert to alcohol. This makes a sweeter stout, and I’d really enjoyed my first batch (beer number 5) but it was almost gone. (more…)