As the holiday craziness sets in and I have procrastinated wrapping gifts for yet another hour I realized something that brightened by night: my beer is finally ready. That’s right, the beer that took a toll on my tiny kitchen as recounted in my original post has finally come to fruition. I’d pushed it to the back of my mind after the bottling fiasco that left me sprinting to my final class of the day, but looking back that was a minor hiccup in the overall process.
Let me tell you a little about how bottling went. After the beer fermented for two weeks in its gallon jug, it was time for bottling. I stopped by my local brew shop, Home Sweet Homebrew, and picked up a case of swing top bottles to fill. I had a two-hour break between my classes that day and decided it would be a good time to bottle, being that once everything is sanitized it should only take about 15-30 minutes. My sidekick from Part One of this story, my ever so patient boyfriend, agreed to join in on the bottling fun. So with a time frame and goal of finishing bottling in mind, we started off by sanitizing the 12 bottles we thought we would fill. Once they were all sanitized (after swished around, the sanitizer had to sit in them for about two minutes before being rinsed) I stood them upside down to dry.
As the bottles were drying I sanitized the tubing, racking cane, and black tip that attaches to the other end of the racking cane. Once they were sanitized I put them together and set them aside.
The next step was to dissolve the three tablespoons of honey with a half a cup of water in a sanitized pot. Now is when you begin to set up for siphoning the beer from the jug into the pot with the dissolved honey solution. Getting the siphon to worked proved to be a process in itself. First I filled the tubing with sanitizer (not the racking cane). During this it was important to hold the tubing below the racking cane so it didn’t pour the sanitizer into the beer. At this point the stopper is removed and the racking cane is held just above the trub, the sediment at the bottom.
Next I had to put the tubing over my sink and lower it so sanitizer began to flow through. Once the beer began to flow and the sanitizer was out, it was clamped shut and ready to flow into the large pot with the dissolved honey. Now the problem with this is that it ended up taking my boyfriend, Michael, and I about three tries before having a successful siphon into the pot.
Now that doesn’t sound like much but trust me, it took us a while. We should have practiced with water first or something. Eventually we got a good siphon going and were able to transfer all of the beer from the jug into the pot, no sediment to be found in our golden brown brew. So we began to set up and siphon the beer from the pot into each individual bottle. At this point we had about 40 minutes until I had to leave the house. We can do this, I thought. We have it going, now we just have to bottle and set them aside. I’ll clean up later.
I was wrong.
As I began to flip over the upside down, now dry, bottles on my counter one slipped. Suddenly a sea of twelve bottles began to topple over like dominos, leaping off the counter one by one leaving me with only four sanitized bottles upright; the rest roll around in a panic on my kitchen floor.
This can’t be happening. I have to re-sanitize all of those now. Meanwhile, we lost the siphon as Michael attempted to bottle the first of the four remaining sanitized bottles. Fantastic. I quickly snatch the bottles from the floor, thankfully by some miracle none of them broke, and sanitized all of them. Arms flailing as I shake them dry, I realized Michael has gotten the siphon to work once again and he only has one bottle left. I being to place the sanitized and semi-dry bottles on the counter for him to grab and fill. I look at the clock and… we have to leave. In two minutes I need to be going to class.
We scramble, grabbing bottles and filling them, trying to get every last bit of beer in that pot that we’ve worked so hard to make. Finally it’s done with only a few drops left.
“I’m part of the no beer left behind coalition,” announces Michael, funneling the last half-cup or so into another bottle.
Then it hit me; it’s 1:28pm. I have to leave for class, now. Michael had a meeting. What time was the meeting? At, 1:30pm. I immediately shout what time it is and suddenly our no beer left behind coalition puts the last drop aside, closes the bottle, and races to get out the door. Good news though, we both made it to our destinations. Thank goodness we both ran track back in high school.
So I ended up with just six bottles of beer for my first home brew. Not a full 12 but still a decent amount. That beer, that bruxelles blonde ale, is finally done. I packed one in my bag and brought it home with me for the holidays, and now it is here in front of me screaming to be opened. And with a bit of fear but also hope, I pop the swing top off and pour myself some of my first homemade beer. After the countless hours spent creating this and minor mishaps it actually… tasted good. I was thrilled. I called my dad into the kitchen and he liked it too, so it wasn’t just me.
The golden brown color bubbled wildly, finally released from its bottle. The head was foamy and thick but dissipated slowly leaving only a thin lace around the edges of the cup. The flavor was simple, as expected; a very basic, not too hoppy, Belgian ale. Notes of honey and wheat were evident but not overpowering, sweet but smooth and light. It was simply a good beer. All in all it turned out to be quite an adventure but luckily was worth it. I caught my dad trying another glass. I should have brought more bottles home. Happy holidays everyone and cheers to many more!
Beer: My First Homebrew
Style: Belgian Blonde Ale
Final Result: Success