It’s Bottling Time

It’s been about 16 days since homebrewing my first batch of beer and it’s time to once again play of the role of amateur, unprepared homebrewer. It’s BOTTLING TIME.

Simple enough, right? Wash the bottles, move the beer from fermenter to bottling bucket then bottle. Yeah, sure. I got this…

I threw in the kit’s DVD (which I already despised… bottling  didn’t help me like this DVD any extra) and watched the 5 minute section on bottling.

Sanitize and Priming Sugar

Bottles in dishwaster

Washing bottles – no detergent!

First step – sanitize. I think I’m getting this step down. I ran the bottles through the dishwater (no detergent) with the hot dry setting. Once this was done I used my sanitizer on all the equipment — bottling bucket, tubes, spigot, siphon, caps and hydrometer.

Sanitizing equipment

Sanitized bottling equipment

From here, as requested by my wife, I moved from the kitchen to the garage. Glad I did — more on this later. While this was going on I boiled three cups of water and diluted the priming sugar.

It’s been over two weeks since brewing the beer and I haven’t taken a peak since I put the lid on the fermenter. Very excited I opened it up and got a big whiff of hoppiness.

Hydrometer Reading

Next was to take the hydrometer reading to get the alcohol percentage. Being flustered while brewing the first batch I elected to not get the original gravity reading (I regret this but it’s not the end of the world). Therefore I won’t truly know the approximate ABV. I put the sample in the test tube and spun and dropped the hydrometer in. After it settled I got a reading of 1.02 for my final gravity. Yay, I did something right! Next I added the diluted priming sugar to the bottling bucket.

Transfer from Fermenter to Bottling Bucket

Now to transfer the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. Cool, where’s my thief? The guy in the video had a thief. The video claims to tell you everything you need to brew your first batch of beer and the kit claims to give you everything you need. Well if having a thief isn’t necessary, WHY USE ONE TO SHOW ME HOW TO SIPHON THE BEER?? Continue reading

My Big Debut – Beer Club #1

Hosting Beer Club

Hosting beer club at the Buffalo Wing Factory – Photo taken by Mitch Witte

Last Friday, February 22nd, was my big debut as a craft beer professional. Well, almost professional. Getting paid in beer is close enough. My buddy got me a gig hosting a craft beer tasting at a local restaurant, the Buffalo Wing Factory. I represented five beers all from different breweries.

  1. Lost Rhino Rhino Chasers Bohemian Pilsner
  2. Williamsburg Alewerks Washington’s Porter
  3. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
  4. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
  5. Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout

The Rhino Chasers Bohemian Pilsner by Lost Rhino in Ashburn, Virginia was our first beer. I explained a bit about the history of the Pilsner and cold-fermented lagers. This was paired with an avocado salad with bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, sweet onions and lime juice. Continue reading

Will this theory help you enjoy new beers?

Unless you’re brand new to beer (nothing wrong with that though) you know that hops are measured on a scale of bitterness. IBUs, International Bitterness Units, measure the bitter alpha acids from hops that are isomerized and dissolved during the boil.

Some beers, like Hefeweizens, have IBUs of 10-15 while Double IPAs will go to 80+ IBUs.

Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink has a great graph in chapter four that shows the relationship of IBUs to Original Gravity (think the amount of alcohol in a beer. Yes, it’s more complicated than that but now’s not the time.). What I noticed that was generally the hoppier the beer, the more Original Gravity, OG, is has. Mosher describes why a lot better than I am able to.

So looking at the chart I came to this hypothesis: if you enjoy a certain beer, wouldn’t you enjoy a beer with a similar hoppiness-to-OG?

I challenge you to try this experiment. Ladies Hefeweizen lovers – try a Doppelbock. Pale Ale fans (like myself) – try a Maibock. And IPA buffs – try an Irish Dry Stout.

Continue reading