Sunday, March 21, 2010

Racking Day

I woke up Saturday morning and put the kids in front of the TV with some toast, after they were settled in, I made my way to the brewery. (furnace room) I was excited because it was time to rack my beer to the secondary fermenter, this would be the first interaction with my beer since brew day which seems like ages ago....... I am getting so thirsty.

I removed the lid and had a peek, the beer has a great dark brown colour and I could see some gunk collected around the inside of the bucket just above the fluid level. This is no doubt evidence left from the krausen, indicating that a very healthy fermentation had taken place.

Kräusen, also spelled "kraeusen" or "krausen," prounounced "KROY-zen," is a beer-brewing term that has two definitions in that context.
1. A 
method to carbonate beer in which wort is added to the fermented/finished beer to carbonate.
2. The foamy, 
meringue-like head that develops during the initial stage of beer fermentation.

The primary fermenter with the bung and airlock in place.

First view of the beer after the lid was removed.

I used the auto-siphon to transfer the beer from the primary to the secondary which is a glass carboy. The auto-siphon is easy to use, one pump and the beer was flowing strong. The bottom of the siphon is setup so it will only pull through liquid and none of the sediment, I found that I had to hold it very steady, because every time I moved it, it would suck up quite a bit of sediment. I have learned my lesson, and will be more cautious with future use of the siphon. I was very shocked again at how much sediment or gunk, or ... I don't know what it was that was left at the bottom.

The auto-siphon at work.

Lots of shit left in the bottom.

The bung and airlock was put in place on the glass carboy and I was very shocked that the carboy was not filled to the top. My calculations from brew day tell me that I used 28 liters of water and malt extract - the pail was also filled to within a few inches of the top. This pail is 30 liters and I wanted to make sure there was room for the krausen to rise. The glass carboy is 23 liters, which is 5 liters less that what I thought I had in the primary fermenter. I realize that some of the volume is left behind or lost during the boil, during the straining into the primary, and during the racking to the secondary, but it shouldn't have been more that 5 liters? This one leaves me puzzled and I will revisit  this on bottling day to see if I need to add more water to the primary fermenter for my next batch.

Glass Carboy - secondary fermenter, note the volume of beer is quite low.

In my brew day post I talked about gravity and potential alcohol. I set a small amount of beer aside for a gravity reading and tasting. The beer had a very nice fruity aroma and tasted quite good. It was very smooth with a slightly bitter or hoppy aftertaste, I also thought I could taste the alcohol, or that something was off. Keep in mind this beer has only been fermenting for a week and is not carbonated yet. There is still another week of aging and maturing in the secondary fermenter, plus two weeks in the bottle. Also something to keep in mind is that I don't have the best palette or ability to pick up on certain flavors from different malts and hops. If you know me, you know I like to try a lot of different types of beer, and I simply know if I like it or not. I will be relying on my friends and families true and honest opinion of my brews if they dare sample them with me.

Official Moonstone Brewery sampling glass. (purchased from Robert Simpson Brewery)

The original gravity of the beer on brew day was 1.048, or a "ten forty eight" in homebrew lingo, this showed a potential alcohol level of 6.2% - This is very common for an ale and is what the original gravity should be because no fermentation has taken place. Fermentation is simply yeast turning sugar into alcohol. Another reading was taken on racking day and it read 1.014 which is a potential alcohol of 1.8% - To calculate the actual alcohol content by volume, you subtract the original gravity from the final gravity. so after one week of fermentation, the beer contains 4.4% alcohol. I expect that in the next week, a little more fermentation will take place and increase this slightly.

Hydrometer in the test jar.

Next Saturday is bottling day and the following Friday, Rachelle and I are heading to Mexico for a much needed vacation where I will be sipping Corona on tap for a week. I will be returning just in time to sample my first Brown Ale, Moonstone Brewery's historic first batch of beer. 

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