04 September, 2014

Racking and Caning

That's the next step for my first beer.  Although the recipe says we can skip this step and go straight to bottling, we're going to rack this beer with a cane and put it in secondary.  Sounds like torture.

We actually could have done this step on Sunday, so we keep to the weekends for brewing - which I prefer.  But this past weekend was Labor Day, the last long weekend - and the last campout - of the season.  So Greg assured me we could wait a few days before bottling (and brewing the next beer).
On Wednesday, when Greg, James, and I headed up to the camp ground, the forecast was rain, with more rain, and a cold front moving in over the weekend.  Dubious camping conditions, to be sure.  But we were taking tarps and awnings and a truck FULL of wood, so we figured we'd make it through.  And instead of the rain we had sunshine, clear skies (cold nights), and a beautiful weekend.
I intended to take more pictures, knowing that I've started blogging again - and even if my blog may center around my beer-making activities, this counts (since it delayed my next beer).  Instead, you get the best two scenery shots, and a warning picture of what can happen at the end of the life of an air mattress.
There has been some internal hemorrhaging in our air mattress.  And every now and then you could hear a new pop - something else in there let go.  Originally the only external sign of damage was that a couple of the divots bumped up instead of bowing down like they're supposed to.  We've continued to use the mattress over the summer, each trip another pop or two.  Until this time.  The last night on the mattress, as Greg was going to bed, it sounded like several soft gunshots (or some very loud, hard farts), and the night was very uncomfortable.  In the morning, after giving thanks for several years of good camping use, we snapped pictures of the deformity, deflated the mattress, and sent it off to the dump.  There's another one in the shed, but I don't know if it holds air.  I'll have to test it before camping next summer so I know whether or not we need to get a new one...

We got home early evening on Monday and spent the rest of the time unpacking, showering, cleaning, and getting ready to go back to the real world.  Tuesday was supposed to be the next step in the beer dance, as well as beginning a new flavor.  Problem is, I haven't picked the next recipe I want to try.  To be precise, I've picked some recipes that I want to try, but they won't be done in time for our Halloween party, and I really want at least one more brew ready for tasting by then.

We decided to transfer the first beer into a secondary.  Greg says it won't hurt anything, it'll just make the beer a little clearer and there will be less sediment when we go to the bottling stage.  Because I'd like to have two batches ready for Halloween, we've opted to make this recipe a second time, but not put it through the second transfer.  This will let me see the difference in clarity and taste (if any).  We'll also be brewing a fruit beer - as soon as I pick the recipe - but it won't be ready for consumption by the end of October.
We're doing all our brewing activities on the deck or in the kitchen right now.  At some point, we'll have things set up so we can work out of the garage, hopefully over the winter so we don't get frostbite.  So Greg lugged the beer upstairs so we could make the transfer.  It's messy because of the yeast-y overflow.
To make the transfer (rack the beer), we use a cane with a flexible hose attached.  The cane is just a long, hard plastic tube that is held in the beer, the hose goes to the soon-to-be-filled carboy.  The most difficult part (aside from making sure everything is sanitized) is creating the siphon.  We filled the cane and tube with sanitized water, making sure there was no air in the line (harder than it sounds, for someone who's only siphoned gas one time years and years ago and ended up with a mouthful of nastiness).  Once this is done, Greg inserted the cane in the beer, down to just above the sediment layer, and the end of the flex-tube into a bowl (so we could drain the water without putting it in the new carboy).  After the water was flushed out, the tube went into the new carboy and the beer started flowing.  In all, it took longer to sanitize before and after the process than it did to transfer the beer.  Now it'll sit for a while in the secondary - while we figure out if we've got enough bottles, get more if needed, and get them sanitized - before we head to the bottling stage.  Now it's time to decide the next recipe and start the process over again...

No comments: