Thursday, 17 October 2013

Part 3: Maybe a Bit Eager...

Having watched a big white tub like an expectant father to be it was almost time (according to the instructions) to put the dark stuff into bottles for the next step of the fermentation process. Before this could happen a bit of prep work needed to be done.

A couple of nights before, I had poured a sample to perform a gravity check, which came out at 1.010 (the OG was 1.040), confirming something had occurred inside the bucket; hopefully it was my little yeasty friends working their magic. I gave the murky liquid a quick sniff and it definitely smelled like beer, not a great beer mind, but I was at least pleased there had been no intervention by bacterial bastards.

Cleansed and ready to go...nowhere.
The night before bottling I decided to get the bottles prepped to give them chance to dry. Whilst the prospect of bottling was very exciting; seeing my efforts trickle into their final resting place before impending consumption, the sterilisation of the bottles most definitely wasn't. Singing "40 Brown Bottles" just reminded me of how many I had left to clean, and furthermore they're plastic and wouldn't break if they fell anyway, I'd just end up having them clean them again. I had to stay focused, I was not out of the woods yet and attention to cleanliness at this point dictates who gets to glug this beer - me or the sink! After what seemed like hours (in reality it was only around 20 minutes), the last bottle was rinsed out and I could get on with doing something more interesting.

The next evening the brewery/kitchen was jumping with excitement (just from me) - Dark Matter was to be bottled! Hurrah! Everything was laid out and ready to go; measuring spoons...check, a selection of sugars for priming...check, 40 very, very clean bottles...check. I tapped Alfie for a second sample and performed another gravity test - it was 1.008! Cripes, Alfie was still not done! I was actually a little pleased because at 1.010 it would have been a mere 4% ABV, which was a little weaker than I was expecting. An executive decision was taken to leave the black stuff until my next available evening, three days later...

I did feel slightly disappointed about this false start, maybe I was a little too eager, but it is a learning process after all. So what lessons did I learn by this episode? 
  1. That there are so many factors involved in brewing you can't take the instructions of the back of a packet as de facto. (Not that I plan on using kits in the future anyway)
  2. Don't wash your bottles before checking that the beer is actually ready to be bottled...saves you having to rewash those damn bottles!
  3. The brew will be ready when it's ready.
Oh and I also noticed that Beavertown's BrewDog collab is also called Dark Matter, damn them! Whether the accumulation of brewing experience that has gone into crafting their beer make it better than my own kit effort, that still remains to be seen, but I'll let them have this one (I'm obviously joking here!). I will be paying a visit to BrewDog Manchester this Saturday to sample their brew...along with the other 11 collab beers of course!