Finally the wait is over, it's been 21 days since my last bottle and brew day and I could hardly wait to get started. The Four Seasons CD is playing and the sun is shinning so here I go.
Today begins by moving the St. Patricks Irish Stout w/Creamy Brown that I brewed back in late February 2010 down to the conditioning room. After completing 21 days of carbonation, the bottles now sit undisturbed in the cellar, at a constant 50-60F temperature for at least 21 days.
I will be bottling 2 gallons of Pilothouse Pilsner and 2 gallons of Ptarmigan Pale Ale. The first thing to do is to carry the kegs into the kitchen and set them up on the counter.
The kegs should always be moved very carefully so the sediment stays at the bottom.
The beers have spent the past 21 days fermenting in my upstairs 'Beer Room'. Now is the fun part, I pour a few ounces from each keg into a small glass and drink them. Rule of thumb for fermentation is 'if the beer is not overly sweet tasting and actually tastes like flat beer, it's ready'.
The next step will be preparing the bottles for filling, by disinfecting them before use. I fill a large pot with enough warm tap water to halfway fill 16 quart bottles, then stir in an oxygen based sanitizing cleanser. I use One-Step™ as it won't add any flavors to the finished beer and does not require rinsing after use.
When sanitizing your brewing equipment and bottles at the sink. 'It's always good to wait until all the dishes have been cleaned and put away before starting'. Here I am filling the bottles I will use today, halfway with sanitizing solution.
After filling each bottle halfway I cap them, shake them up really well and let them soak for about ten minutes before filling with beer.
"It pays to make sure you have enough granulated sugar on hand before starting to bottle your beer".
The next step, after dumping the sanitizing solution out, is to add 2 1/2 teaspoons of pure granulated sugar to each 1-liter bottle. This is the recommended amount of fermentable sugar this size bottle needs to produce the right amount of carbonation.
'Pure corn sugar can be used in place of pure cane sugar, as they contain the same amount of fermentable sugars'.
It's now time to sit down and pour, the bottles have been cleaned and the sugar added. I give the bottles a slight tilt by holding them on an angle while filling them. Doing this reduces the amount of aeration introduced into the beer for the carbonation process.
The Ptarmigan beer I sampled today was noticeably 'hoppy', having a strong hop flavor. It also has close to a 7.% abv content making it a pretty strong beer. This beer is going to be too overpowering to drink in large quantities, but it will be very interesting by the glass.
The Amarillo hop pellets used in the Ptarmigan recipe were added to the boiling wort for about 5 minute boil. I did the same for the First Pitch Pilsner recipe using Sterling hop pellets.
Yet the First Pitch Pilsner beer tasted so much milder, with a floral distinction which I think will make it a much more drinkable beer.
For now the 16 1-liter bottles will sit undisturbed in a room with a pretty constant temperature of 68-76F to carbonate. I will check the bottles from time to time over the next 21 days to see how the carbonation is progressing.
After the first 2 or 3 days the otherwise soft plastic bottles will begin to get harder and harder to squeeze. This is caused by the fermenting yeast turning the pure cane sugar into alcohol and producing carbon dioxide as a byproduct.