Adventures in Homebrew II: The Bottling

I've had our beer bottled for about two weeks now, but lots has happened in those two weeks and, as a result, my blog has suffered.  Solid Orange American Wheat has successfully been transformed from this:

Beer, after 24 hoursTo this:

Bottle #1And here's how I did it:

First off, I had to collect some bottles.  I haven't had good beer in months because of my low-carb diet, so I had to go scrounge in other places.  Laura Alberts was good enough to donate 12 bomber bottles, I had saved a couple up, and my cousin came through with a few Heineken bottles from a weekend on the boat.  I was planning on labeling them myself, so the stickers had to come off.

Bottles in the sinkAfter a few minutes soaking, they came right off.  I ran them through the dishwasher afterward, and put some sanitizer into the detergent compartment so that they'd all be sanitized.  This had the added benefit of making my dishwasher smell nice.  While they were being dried, I got the beer ready to be moved into its final destination.  First off, I had to transfer it into a bottling bucket so that the sediment didn't get reintegrated into the beer.

Sediment.  Gross.I hooked up my siphon, and away it went.

Siphoning the beerWhile that happened, I lined my bottles up and hoped that I had collected enough.  I wasn't really sure what would happen if I didn't, but I figured that I'd cross that bridge if I came to it.

BottlesI moved the siphon over to the bottling bucket and filled up each bottle, which became fairly tedious about halfway through.  Luckily, I had calculated correctly and had three bottles left over.

Finished bottlesThey sat in the guest room for a couple weeks, and then they were ready for initial tasting.  First, though, I had to make a label.  I whipped this up in Photoshop, printed it on some stick-on labels, and then they were ready to go:

Solid Orange Label

The first tasting was interesting.  There's not nearly as much orange as I was hoping there would be, and it's a little watery.  I'm going to let it sit for a little while longer though, as both of those things should improve over time.  The overall taste is very enjoyable, and I'm pretty impressed with how it turned out.  Hopefully, it'll hit its prime right in the middle of football season.


Adventures in Homebrew: Part 1

Homebrew stuff

I've brewed beer once before, with Elliott and Johny, and it seemed to turn out pretty well - but only after letting our Double IPA sit in my parents' basement for a little over a year.   I wanted to try again, and so Katie gave me a homebrew setup for my birthday this year.  Tailgating season is fast approaching, and I wanted to try to brew something that would be ready for the first game.  Enter: Northern Brewer's American Wheat Extract Kit!  The original plan was to do an orange-infused Kolsch, but that kit takes six weeks to complete.  Football is only four weeks away, so we switched gears to an orangey American Wheat.  Hopefully, this'll turn out something along the lines of a more orangey Blue Moon.

I hadn't really messed with the kit beforehand, so we had to go through and mark gallon measurements on both of the carboys.  I'm sure there was a more efficient way to do this, but 11 gallons later, we were ready to go.

Katie marking a carboy

The full extract kit was almost disappointingly simple.  Basically, all we had to do was pour some stuff in a huge kettle and wait.  The kit came with a little half-gallon jug of what they called a "wheat and barley syrup."  Last time I brewed, I remember putting barley and malt in a pantyhose-looking bag and letting it steep, just like you would tea.  Next time, I think I'm going to go full grain.  We'll see how this one turns out, I guess.


After letting the Willamette hops boil in the wort for about 45 minutes, we added some Cascade hops and the zest of four oranges.  This boiled for another 15 minutes, and then it was cooldown time.  The kettle dominated the sink full of ice water that I had prepared, so we had to resort to the frozen beer pong cupholders that I had in the beer fridge.

Katie with Cascade hopsOrange zestIce bath

The wort had finally cooled down enough that it wouldn't melt a carboy, so it was time to bottle it up and add the yeast.  We added some water to bring the concoction back up to 5 gallons, poured in the fermentation fuel, added another 4 oranges' worth of zest, and capped the carboy up with a blowoff valve.  I hung a blanket over the window of the guest bedroom and stuck it in there so that it'd be dark and cool for a couple weeks.

Carboy with beerThe instructions said that after 24 hours, there would be a layer of foam on top and air bubbling out of the blowoff valve.  Anxious, I opened the door the next morning to find this:

Beer, after 24 hoursSo far, everything seems to be good.  If you put your nose right above the blowoff and inhale, you definitely get a strong orange smell.  I'm very optimistic at this point.  2 weeks from now, it'll be bottling time, and after a couple weeks of bottle conditioning, they'll be ready to (hopefully) enjoy.  The North Texas game will be exactly 4 weeks from initial brew, so I guess we'll see what happens.  Can't be worse than Shock Top.

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