Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Over The Top

Well, that was an experience. For the first time ever I have got two batches of ale on at the same time and I can't shake the idea that I may have killed one. Still, I have said this before about my brewing efforts and been proven wrong so let's hope that this is a similar panic.

What can I say? Grenade is now onto secondary fermentation and I have Bayonet started - which is going to be a pretty sharp IPA if all things go according to plan.

Would you like to know more?

The evening began with the laughable premise that I could get all my 330ml bottles sorted for Grenade as well as getting it all syphoned off into the barrel ready for secondary fermentation. The original plan was to have my Challenger hops added to the barrel for this section and then use the syphon again to bottle it. After all, I have carefully stockpiled the bottles and they just needed cleaning. The first note here that ought to have warned me that things would not be so easy was sounded when I took down the barrel and discovered that some of the Berry Bad batch had hidden somewhere and then fermented happily at the bottom after my attempt at cleaning it last time. There was even a bit of a thud from the escaping carbon dioxide on opening, which was a tad worrying given how little fluid there was! Still, I went to wash that out with the bottles and then discovered we didn't have enough hot water. No worries, thought I, the time could be used to prepare the bottles by removing the labels. I washed the barrel, brought it down and got on to syphoning.

Ha ha. It took two hours. Two hours! Yes, two hours, you read that right, to get it sorted. First there were air locks all over the place and then, insult of insults, the muslin bag fell into the barrel and took with it a massive amount of hops detritus - despite using a sediment trap - and had to fished out. When that failed I had to pour the brew back into the bucket and try again. Eventually I managed to get it transferred but lost about four litres, four litres, to sediment that simply couldn't be drained effectively from the bucket. Mind you, I realise now that I have used maybe twice the amount of malt that is required and twice the amount of hops too. Oh well, should make for an interesting brew, the smell was nice at any rate. I failed to get a reliable SG rating so who knows what's going to happen. I have now perched the barrel on top of the unit and hope that works.

Then it was time to set up the next brew. Bayonet is designed as a companion piece to the Grenade and, between them, I hope to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. I have a third brew planned, called Trench Warfare, but that may have to wait until I have more bottles. Whilst cleaning the bottles I realised that I had planned for 25 pints rather than 25 litres. Doh. It's not so bad, as I'm down to 21 litres now, but I still only have about 40 bottles of 330ml so not quite enough to bottle the entire batch. I have enough bottles for the Bayonet but that's because they are 500ml and 750ml bottles and I counted those correctly.

The main point is that I have started the second brew, and read interesting things about oxygenating your wort (I have never done that before) and mixing the malt extract properly. Which I have also never done. Nevertheless, a lighter malt than the dark one I used initially and I had to add brewing sugar for the first time, which was a bit strange, I think I prefer not having to do that in the first place but we shall see what happens.

At present my plan is to wait the normal ten or so days for the Bayonet to do its thing and then transfer the Grenade to bottles and the Bayonet to the barrel. By that point I may have enough spare cash to buy in the ingredients for Trench Warfare. My discovery of Mocha at the local supermarket for 70p for 330ml may effectively put the kibosh on that though. I resisted buying an entire crate but did get in almost a full crate because it is great and I miss it from earlier in the year already.

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