Tag Archives: bottling

Bottling before leaving, with a tasty beer

Sunday at my place was a very quick one. Only four litres of the Australian IPA #1 to be bottled. Plus sat down for a taste test of the Australian Pale #4. No brewing because in two weeks I’ll be on holidays. I don’t want to leave something in the fermenter too long. Will pick things up once I’m back.

Australian IPA 1

Australian IPA 1 in the carboy and ready for bottling

The bottling went very well with 13 stubbies sanitised, filled and capped super quick. The bulk priming works a treat. Getting the hang of tipping the priming vessel so you get the right angle to help liquid flow down the bottling wand.

Gravity came in at 1.015. At first I was a little disappointed, then realised I had dry hopped (see the photo with the hop bag). Plus the original gravity was 1.058 which means after bottle conditioning I’m looking at about 6.1% alcohol. That’s good for the style.

The sample we tried was very bitter. That’s somewhat expected for an IPA. I’m hoping the flavour and aroma comes out a bit more. I’ll sneak in a taste just before holidays, then we’ll do a proper tasting in about a month.

As I mentioned, we did a proper tasting of  Australian Pale Ale #4. Chas liked it and will write up a review soon-ish. Personally it’s my favourite pale ale I’ve made. And sits next to Baltic Porter #2 to battle it out as the best beer I’ve made. Not much left, might need to make some more once I’m back.

-Mikey

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New equipment is fun, and some bottling

Christmas was good for me. Got a couple vouchers for home brew shops. Yay. Oh, and the Australian Pale Ale #3 needed to be bottled. Was a bit distracted, and a bit lazy, so only got around to bottling on Thursday.

Bottling Tree

Bottling Tree with just the first two levels and full of bottles.

As I had some hot vouchers in my hand I went down to Australian Home Brewing to pick up some new equipment. First thing was a bottling tree. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while. Will be using it for both bottling days, and cleaning bottles. So, this is something I’ll be using a lot. As you can see from the photo I’ve only put the first to parts on, it’s all I need.

Also picked up some hops, bigger capper with caps for big bottles and a small 15 litre fermenter. I’ll keep the hops under wraps until start brewing with them. Tried the capper on a wine bottle I had saved, didn’t quite work. Will be looking for the right bottles in the future. The small fermenter is really useful as I can use it for bulk priming, like for this brew, or other brews between the carboy and 30 litre fermenter.

Bottling took a fair bit longer. Partly because I was trying new equipment and partly because I kept getting distracted. The carboy was poured directly into the small fermenter which had the dissolved sugar. Hopefully I didn’t get too much air into it, I think I might. Hopefully I didn’t get too much trub transferred, I’m pretty sure I did. Again, I split the bottling up into some stubbies, a bigger 500 ml bottle and some plastic bottles.

There were also two 1.25 litre bottles with the brewing caps. Just to see what happens I’ve decided to leave one bottle as it for condition. The other bottle I transferred into a new bottle and left the yeast/trub behind. That second bottle is sealed and without any extra sugar for carbonation. Strange, the beer from the bottle that was transferred wasn’t that carbonated. So, this could go either way.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in original bottle, gravity reading and re-bottled.

Gravity reading was really good, 1.012 for both the carboy and 1.25 L bottle. That means the beer from the carboy will end up about 5.0% with the bulk priming, while the 1.25 L bottles will remain at 4.5%. That’s pretty good. Plus the flavour was good. Quite a bit of orange flavour with some other citrus and other fruit. Hints of some floral and grassy notes. Will be interesting to see how it all settles down.

Given the heat in Melbourne is finally starting to kick in there’s not going to be another brew at my place for a bit. That might change if I get my act into gear and sort out a brew fridge. Will keep you all posted.

-Mikey

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Quick, get it bottled

No posts for 10 days! That’s not so good. Well time to end all that and talk about bottling the Australian Pale Ale #2.

This beer really should have been bottled last weekend. But, was away in Tassie having a nice long weekend. Now I’m back the beer needed to go in bottles. Given the last attempt at bulk priming I thought I would give it another crack on a smaller scale. It worked well.

Australian Pale Ale 2 & sugar

Australian Pale Ale 2 ready for bottling and dissolved sugar ready for bulk priming.

There was only four litres of the beer so I could rack it all in one go. Plus I dissolved the sugar in some water first. How about that for planning? Dissolved sugar into pot, beer racked over the top, nice. With the beer in the pot it was just a matter of syphoning into the bottles. All up it took longer than if I just used carbonation drops. That said I’m more likely to be happy with the carbonation, if it’s even across all the bottles.

I’ve talked about how I want beers for festivals where normal beer bottles aren’t allowed. So, for this batch I’ve filled a 450 ml plastic bottle to see how the beer turns out compared to glass bottles. Will let you know what the verdict is.

The beer came in at 1.014 for the final gravity. I’m pretty happy with that as the last couple brews haven’t been that low. Beer should end up at about 4.4% alcohol after bottle conditioning, that’s pretty much what I was going for. Double win.

Having sampled the beer, it’s clear it needs time to settle. Lots of big bitterness. There’s plenty of sweet peach aroma and the flavour comes out as well. There’s way too much bitterness at the end, which I really hope drops away significantly. Looking forward to trying this in two, or maybe three. weeks.

-Mikey

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Bulk and Pale, finally there

Whoops, this was meant to go up a couple days ago! Anyway, here it is…

Last Sunday was another brew day at my place. It was a bit of a milestone date as I finally got around to doing bulk priming. Was also able to kick off what I hope is a series of pale ales. Chas made it over and we did a number if tastings through the arvo.

First up was bottling the Baltic Porter #2. As I promised, this was to be my first bulk priming attempt. There was about 15 litres of useable beer. Problem was that I didn’t have another vessel that could hold that much. Ended up using the 9 litre pot that’s normally reserved for the boil. Did two lots of 6 litres and one lot of 3 litres.

Bulk priming set up

First attempt at bulk priming with fermenter, scales, pot and sample in the back.

Used an online calculator to work out how much sugar to add. Sugar was put direct into the pot and beer was released over the top. Then stirred slowly to dissolve the sugar completely. In hindsight it would of been good to dissolve the sugar in some water first. Having just one vessel with one transfer would of been a lot easier. Bottling 15 litres with a syphon wasn’t fun. Most was done into 500 ml bottles which saved a fair bit of time.

The final gravity came in at 1.032 which is a lot higher than expected. After bottle conditioning it should be 5.6% alcohol. That’s a lower than was hoping for. Really wanted this to be above 6%. That said it tasted pretty good when we sampled it. Time will tell.

After bottling was finally done it was on to the brew. Plus there was a few brews up for tasting. The Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, Hoppy Heart IPA 2 and the two apple ciders I made. Chas will be posting about those over the next few days.

I’ve been wanting to build out a range of lighter beers that can be enjoyed on the warmer days coming up. Not everyone in the house likes IPA’s and I’m not ready for doing a proper lager. Pale ale was the only good option. Given the failure of the last attempt I decided to avoid using liquid malt. So, dry malt was used and hops kept tame. As I used up a few things last brew this ended up as a single hop beer. That’s pretty exciting and will be a great benchmark, if it ferments out well.

Before the brew started the yeast and a teaspoon of dry malt extract were thrown into a cup of water for rehydration. Realised after that should have waited before putting in the DME. Hopefully that doesn’t make much if a difference.

Basic brew this one. Only a thirty minute boil.

Australian Pale Ale #2
Boil size 3 litres
500 grams of Light Dry Malt Extract
3 grams Galaxy hops at 30 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 15 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 1 min /flameout.
1 & 1/2 teaspoons if US 05 yeast.

Australian Pale Ale #2

Australian Pale Ale 2 in the carboy after one week.

As this was a small boil it was a lot easier to lower the temperature. Three trays of ice and some half frozen water went into the wort while sitting in the water bath. In less than 20 mins we were already down to 24°C and ready to pitch yeast. Last bit of water put in to get it up to four litres then given a good shake before gravity reading done. Original Gravity came in at 1.044. Airlock on, and done.

Day was a good one. Had a late start and didn’t think it would be a long one. Turns out the bulk priming and bottling took a fair bit longer than I thought. Looks like I’ll need a proper vessel for the priming when I do it again.

Really happy to finally get around to these two things. Next few brews will also be pale ales. But might need to slow down as we come into Christmas.

-Mikey

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Return of an old kit, now colder

Sunday was brew day at my place again. Yay! I’m enjoying the small batches and this was another one.

First up was bottling the Australian Wattle Pale Ale. Got pretty carried away and nearly forgot to take a sample for the final gravity. Was happy with the final reading of 1.014 which means it will be 4.2% ABV after conditioning in the bottles. The sample for gravity was also our sample. Have to say it was very rough and bitter. Might need more than the regular two weeks conditioning.

Worth nothing that this was the first beer that I’ve had proper temperature control. The sensor was attached and set at 22°C. There is one degree buffer range on the sensor. This meant brewing temperature was kept between 21.0°C and 22.5°C. That top range estimate as I wasn’t constantly checking. I wasn’t even checking that often. Anyway, point is that there was some control on this fermentation.

After all the bottling was done it was time for the next brew. This time it was a return to the BrewSmith Hoppy Heart IPA. I quite liked the last batch and wanted another lighter flavoured beer before trying the Baltic Porter again.

Hoppy Heart and Aussie Wattle

Hoppy Heart IPA in carboy in blanket and Aussie Wattle Pale Ale in bottles.

Had fun with this brew. Read the instructions before starting, after the mess that was the Pale Ale. The kit was straight forward and everything went to plan.

Did a couple extra things. For the steeped grains did a sparge to rinse out more flavour, colour and sugars. Thus gave a slightly darker beer but should be more flavour.

Also played around with the cold break. Used two 1.25L bottles with frozen water as ice blocks to cool the original water. This worked well. Also added about a litre of chilled water direct to the wort. After ten minutes changed over the water. As part of this I poured the near-frozen water into the sink for the bath, and topping up the bottles with tap water to continue the chilling effect. The wort wasn’t chilled enough enough after another 10 minutes. So a third bath was required. It was only now that I realised there were two trays if ice specifically prepared. They were thrown in. As a result the temperature dropped too much and there was too much wort.

The wort only just fit into the carboy. A lot of shaking later, for oxygenation, we took a sample for gravity. It came in at 1.064 which is quite alright. Yeast was pitched and put away with temperature set at 21°C. So, should ferment at 20° to 21.5°.

The day went well. Bottling and brewing on the smaller scale if things is nice. Plus return to a nice beer that was chilled, and will be fermented, cooler than before.

– Mikey

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Bottling day, and not much more

Mildly Dark #1

Mildly Dark #1 in bottles

Saturday was going to be a full brew day. Due to a few different reasons the brew didn’t go ahead. Ended up being just a bottling day.

Ian was going to join, but was heading out of town. Chas got back, but still has a lot of things to sort out. And I was sick last week, so didn’t have much energy to do a brew by myself. That’s also why there wasn’t a new 101 last week. This week we should be back on track.

Ended up taking me three hours. Was a slow sort of arvo, sanitising bottles in two batches. Two slabs of stubbies and an extra 12 mixed. Total of 60. Lucky ‘cos those were my last bottles. Every single one now full of beer. Probably a good thing I didn’t do a 23L brew like planned.

Final gravity reading came in at 1.024. That means after bottling it should sit at 4.7% ABV. Not as high as I was pushing for the last few beers. That said I’m happy with this as the Mild style isn’t meant to be that strong. Flavour wise it was a mix. I was hoping that it could be enjoyed as a young beer, as the style is suppose to be. My gut feeling is that this would take more than two weeks. That’s likely due to the dark malt that was added.

On a side note, tried out a bottle of the Baltic Porter #1 last week. Given it was less than two weeks in the bottle I was impressed. Should be quite a good drop.

-Mikey

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Brewing alone, and making a mess

Chas is still overseas, and will be for a couple more weeks. So this week’s brew, and next one in two weeks time, will be sans Chas. Next brew I hope to be joined by Ian, but this week it was just by my lonesome.

Like any normal brew day first thing is to bottle the last batch. So, most if the 10 litres of Baltic Porter #1 made it’s way into bottles. I say most because, (1) there was a gravity reading sample to be taken, and (2) there was an accident. The little thing that regulates the flow of beer (aka the bottling valve) fell off into one if the bottles as I was filling it. I freaked out a bit, thinking to get as much as possible into bottles before remembering there was a tap! Once things were under control again I reattached the bottling valve and had no more problems. Needless to say I’ve got some bottles that I’m not sure how they’ll condition, and they all marked with a question mark.

Final gravity came in at 1.021. That means after bottle fermentation it will sit at 7.2%. I’m very happy with that.

Mildly Dark #1

The Mildly Dark #1 sitting in the fermenter.

As this was a solo affair, had a sizeable break before brewing.
Back a few weeks ago when I picked up the ingredients for the Baltic Porter #1 there were a couple other things I picked up as they were on special. The main thing was the Mangrove Jack’s Mild kit. It’s a liquid malt extract and known for having some decent quality.
I also picked up some “factory second” dry malt. It was recommended to boil up the stuff for use. I just threw it into boiled water, and had a little problem getting it to dissolve.
Finally, had a can of dark liquid malt extract that I bought by mistake earlier on.

All up this was a kit with a lot of malt additions, both dry and liquid. Given the mistakes of the Australian Pale Ale #1 and Australian Amber Ale #1, I’m feeling a lot better about this brew. Given the extra dark malt I’ve dubbed this beer Mildly Dark #1.

Ingredients:

  • Mangrove Jack’s Mild kit
  • 500g “factory second” DME
  • 1.5kg Black Rock LME

Gravity ended at 1.056. Happy with that. If it ferments down to around 1.020 then the final ABV will come in around 5%, and that’s something to look forward to.

-Mikey

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Lesson learnt, a bit too late

On Sunday we had another brew day at my place. Was time to do another Porter and a using some grain for the first time since the Brewsmith kits.

There was bottling of the Australian Amber Ale and tasting of the Australian Pale Ale. Both are a lot darker than ‘amber’ or ‘pale’ and should be renamed ‘dark’ and ‘amber’. The tasting of the Amber was, how should I put this, bad. The idea behind the two brews really wasn’t thought out well enough. I had assumed the sugars in the liquid malt cans would mostly ferment leaving only a slight sweetness. I was very wrong. And I should have realised it when we did the gravity readings. Chas has a review that will be going up, but to summarise… it’s bad. The amber came in at lower gravity than the pale, so that might be worse. I’m not going to even attempt tasting the Amber Ale in two weeks. I think both beers need to condition for a number of months, maybe six or more.

So, with that in mind I’m very glad we did a brew of something that should turn out a fair bit better. Or at least in theory. The brew can’t be classified as a ‘Partial’ because the grains used were crystal. That means no enzymes to convert starch into sugar, aka a mash. This was Steeping of the grains, and therefore this brew should be classified as an extract. Plus a can of amber liquid malt extract was used. There was 500 grams of Crystal (ebc 115-145) used.

Baltic Porter #1

Grains for Baltic Porter #1 steeping in the pot

I wanted to get the most out of the grains so steeping occurred for a full 60 mins at around 80C. I say around 80C as the temperature wasn’t fully controlled the whole time. It dropped down to around 77C and was as high as 86C at one point. Not great. But, in defence it was only steeping and not mashing.

And so the Baltic Porter started.

After steeping there was a sixty minute boil. The can of liquid malt and the liquid from steeped grains were all thrown into the wort. Once the hot break occurred in went 7 grams of Warrior hops.

After 30 mins there were 3 grams of Fuggles added. Then finally another 2 grams five mins before flame out. This was then put in the big 30L fermenter and topped up to the 10L mark. Windsor hops were added and fermenter given a good shake to get more oxygen due to the expected high alcohol.

  • Crystal grain (ebc 115-145) – 500g
  • Black Rock Amber liquid malt extract – 1.7k (cans are now bigger)
  • Warrior Hops – 7g
  • Fuggles – 5g (split 3-2)
  • Danstar Windsor yeast – aprox 5g

The original gravity was calculated at 1.081, but only came in at 1.072. That’s probably a good thing considering what happen to the two Australian Ales recently brewed.

The day had some painful lessons. And they were kept to small batches so there’s not too much pain. If this Baltic Porter turns out bad I think it might be time to return to some kits for a little bit.

-Mikey

PS. Forgot to mention we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout and Gauss’ Law hopped cider. Review for stout is up and review of Gauss’ Law will be coming soon.

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Same-same, but different

Brewing day. Ah, nice to have one that doesn’t involve having to fill 80+ bottles. Due to craziness, ie doing other stuff, brew day was moved to Saturday. Plus there was no need to do a supply run which always saves a fair bit of time.

Australian Pale Ale #1

Australian Pale Ale #1 in carboy with separation after 2 weeks.

In the last brew we made the Australian Pale Ale #1. This was an experiment to see what could be done with just a can of liquid malt and hops. It was an attempt to make a very simple but still tasty home brew beer. Last time it was a can of light malt, this time amber malt. Rest of the recipe was the same. Same hops, same boil time, same yeast. Well, the yeast was slight different combination and I’ll explain a bit further down.

So, bottling the Australian Pale Ale #1 was quick. Only 12 bottles used, and the last one wasn’t a full one. There was a huge amount of sediment on the bottom and the brew looked like it had separated at the half way point. Not sure what that was about. There’s the pic to the side here. Anyway, we did a quick stir to mix the two half’s together before bottling. Due to the massive amount of yeast the bottles were very cloudy. I’m not sure how much sugar wasn’t fermented and this is the first time I’m a bit concerned about exploding bottles. Very interesting that the final gravity reading came in at 1.040. That’s high, very high. I’m thinking it’s mainly to do with the huge amounts of yeast. Anyway it means the beer will be 8.6% after bottled. Yay, finally a strong beer.

After that was all done it was onto making the Australian Amber Ale #1. Yes, I know the names are basic and Chas comes up with some great ones. I just can’t be bothered until I get one that I’m happy to continually remake. Plus, the name says what it is.

Started with three litre boil and threw in the can of liquid amber malt. Start of boil added 3 grams of Warrior hops. Twenty mins latter added 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Then 15 mins later another 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Five more mins then flame out and into the sink for a cool bath. Once temperature was close to what was needed it was pored into the carboy and topped up with cold water. Chas got shaking with the carboy and gravity readying was done, 1.097. That’s less then the Australian Pale Ale #1 and I think it’s because a bit more water went into this at the end.

Australian Amber Ale #1

Australian Amber Ale #1 in carboy.

Yeast for the last beer was an issue. There was too much left and the SN9 wine yeast was only put in after 10 days which didn’t do much. So, for the Australian Amber Ale #1 there was a change in what was done. Only half of a kit yeast pack was put in, and the SN9 wine yeast was put in at the same time.

  • Black Rock Amber Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 2.5g
  • ‘Premium Wine Yeast’ SN9 – 1g-ish

A good brew day was had. We busted out the Newcastle Brown and had a couple. Chas put up the review yesterday. Had a couple of the lagers, but one bottle was flat (no sugars in the bottle?). And opened a stout, but it’s not ready yet.

-Mikey

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Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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