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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Part 4: Second Time Lucky...

So after my false start on the bottling front I decided to leave Alfie in peace for a few days. On my next available night I performed another gravity test, which was still at 1.008, telling me this time it was definitely ready to go! Whooo! So with bottles cleansed and rinsed...again, I mentally prepared myself for the task ahead...

Having used a kit for my first attempt I obviously didn't have any influence over the general flavour of the beer I chose, but I did wonder whether I could enhance it in any way at the secondary fermentation stage.

Alfie relinquishing
the dark stuff.
So before beer touched bottle, I decided to do a bit of research on what effects using different priming sugars would have on the end result. It seemed that the use of darker sugars would be fine for priming, the yeasts would eat up the sugars and leave behind a flavour that would compliment a porter or stout. So I rummaged through the cupboards dug out every type of sugar we had - white, light brown, dark brown and muscavado (I thought it best to leave out the icing sugar). I also discovered a tin of "Trick or Treacle", a Lyle's limited edition black treacle...my eyes lit up! I hit the net to see what was the best way of getting this sticky goo into bottles with minimal mess. The method was obvious and simple - batch priming; mix the treacle with some of the beer in a separate container and pour that into the bottles. Easy as that! This would also ensure I got an even distribution between bottles keeping the content consistent. So I boiled up a tablespoon of the jet black treacle with a dash of water and added a teaspoon of quality instant coffee just for an added dimension. Once mixed I tipped it into a sterilised jug with a litre of beer and poured it straight into a couple of bottles. Two down, thirty eight to go!

Beer, sweet beer...
To simply enjoy my efforts, I stuck to the instructions and used plain white sugar for the majority of the bottling, and then for experimentation purposes I bottled four of each with the darker sugars. This time I didn't bother with the batch mixing method, instead opting for a small funnel and a measuring spoon.

It didn't take long until I got into my stride and had an efficient production line on the go - put the sugar in half a dozen bottles, dispense beer, line them up for capping, mark caps to denote the sugar type used, move to storage...and repeat. Before I knew it I was done, all forty bottles filled, hurrah! Now I have to just sit and wait for a couple of weeks until I can sample my spoils.