Late last week, team beer bottled their Belgium Abbey Ale. Since fermentation, almost 6 weeks ago, the beer has been sitting in a 5-gallon glass carboy slowly settling out. We noticed that the beer had a bit of cloudiness and were hoping that extra time in the carboy would, through gravity, clear. Because we malted the grain ourselves there was a chance that we didn’t obtain a complete starch conversion, so in the mashing part of the process the end product could produce a hazy appearance. Wheat grains can produce this exquisite little inconvenience where barley is more forgiving. We found an article on line by John Palmer ‘How to Brew’ which explains most of the brewing process in technical but comprehensive terms. There are so many conversions taking place in the brewing processes that any deviation can alter your
We racked the beer several times during the 6-week period, meaning that we moved the beer from one 5-gallon container to another in order to remove it off the trub, the nasty residue that settles on the bottom of the fermentation vessel. My understanding is that the longer the beer sits on the trub, the more susceptible the beer is to off flavors.
We ended up with 51-12oz. bottles of beer. Yippee! One of the fun chores, yeah right, was to soak the bottles in a sanitizing solution for a couple of days to help loosen the labels off of the bottles. It’s amazing to see some of the creepy things that float out of the bottles when they’re soaking, right Stephanie?
After the bottles were sanitized we attached a jet bottle washer to the faucet, which sends a pressurized water steam up into the bottle to wash away yeast dregs and any sanitizer residue. Then we placed the sanitized bottles in an inverted draining position on a bottle tree until they were dry.
Now we were ready to bottle. We racked the beer from the glass carboy to a priming tank, which is a plastic container with a valve in the bottom and a small length of tubing used to insert into the bottle for filling. Once the beer is in the priming tank we added 4 oz. of corn sugar and stirred vigorously. This sugar will give food to the residual yeast, which in turn produces CO2 to give the beer carbonation.
Alan was volunteered to fill the bottles and Stephanie did the capping. I did the clean up.
We will wait for 3 weeks to taste the beer. Hopefully in that time the beer will settle some more and produce a nice lively carbonation.
There was some residual beer in the priming tank so we all had a taste to decide what flavors had evolved. We concluded that there was a hop presence but also enough grain flavors to balance the bitterness of the hops.