So I got the equipment kit from Singapore last weekend and it came bundled with a lager ingredient kit.
However, I thought my house might be a bit hot for a lager brew – I don’t have air-con and it’s been a hot couple of days, which always heats up the living room, usually my coolest room in the house. So I got a Canadian India Pale Ale.
Ales, as I understand it, is the beer brewed at highest temperatures, so I thought perhaps it would be best suited as my first brew. Also, Brewerkz in Singapore’s Clark Quay does a mean India Pale Ale, so I knew I would enjoy the brew.
Anyhoo – that’s what I had in my brew bucket right up until a couple of hours ago. Here’s the log, for myself, if nobody else cares.
21:15 – I followed the instructions to a tee and the wort mix is complete. The starting gravity is 0.039, which I adjust upwards by 0.003 to compensate for the near 28°C of the room and liquid. So the reading is 0.042, which is about right. I stash it in the cool corner and it sets off at 28°C.
00:30 – Before I turn in I have a quick peek. The foam I stirred up as I was mixing it is gone and it looks calm at the surface. No bubbles yet.
05:30 – An early start as I send Julia to the airport and have a quick look at my brew. A tick froth has appeared and is starting to cover the surface.
12:10 – Home for lunch – the froth now nearly covers the entire surface. Temperature has gone up to 29.5°C. I’m a little worried about the heat. There’s also a thin layer of sediment at the bottom. Is it undissolved dextrose? I’m pretty sure I stirred it until it was all dissolved. I leave it, in case it’s nothing to worry about.
20:30 – Rich foam on top now. The deposit at the bottom looks thinner. No bubbles yet, maybe it didn’t seal right? Temperature outside today is scorching, even at this time of night it’s 31°C. Inside it’s about 30°C.
12:30 – Temperature is still 30°C. Froth is down a lot, but still no damn bubbles. Where’s the bubbles? I open and reseal the lid.
18:00 – Sediment bothers me. What if it is undissolved dextrose and the brew doesn’t have enough food? I open it and stir it with a sanitised spoon. Oops! It’s yeast. Now I remember, there’s yeast fall-out as a result of the brewing process. I take a gravity readin – it’s 1.024 if you include the temperature adjustment. Wow – busy yeast.
19:30 – Bubbles started, finally. They’re about 22 second apart.
20:00 – Wtf!? I was out of the room just to do the dishes, come back and it’s stopped completely. I’ll give it one more stir.
23:59 – Ok, now it’s bubbling fast and furious again. Bubbles are 10 seconds apart. I wonder if I didn’t aerate the wort properly, or perhaps I put the yeast in wrong. I just opened the packet and sprinkled, but Homebrewing for Dummies suggests dissolving it in some lukewarm water instead. Note to self.
08:15 – Surface is clear, bubbling much slower. Temperature still an alarming 30°C. Now bubbling about once every minute.
12:00 – Bubbling has gone down, maybe once every 2 minutes. Gravity reading is 1,014 including the temperature adjustment. It smells a little like cider now, I think I might have contaminated it with my opening and closing the lid. Slight bitterness to the sample too, not sure if that’s called hoppy or spoiled. It certainly does have alcohol in it.
19:30 – Gravity reading is now 1,011 and the bubbles have stopped completely. According to Homebrewing for dummies, my yeast has consumed more than 65% of the sugars, and it’s technically ready to bottle. I also read on Morgan’s website that opening and closing the lid late in the fermentation stage can let oxygen in and spoil the brew. Shit! Time to bottle.
21:00 – Phew! Everything is bottled. Lots of bubbling as I was filling the bottles. Didn’t read about this anywhere, not sure it’s normal – but could be down to technique. Putting the carbonation drops in before filling the bottles prevented them from bubbling over. Also waiting the minimum time in between filling bottles cut down the bubbling. Sticking the filling tube off-centre to the side of the bottle bubbled less than putting it square in the middle.
23:30 – Mess cleaned up and equipment washed and sanitised. 30 PET Bottles are now stored in the not-so-cool-but-still-ok corner where it can do minimum damange should it explode (which I certainly hope it won’t be doing). The first-run cup didn’t taste half bad. Bitter, which I would like to call hoppy, with just a slight tangy taste – bacterial infection, says the articles, but I’d like to pretend I was experimenting with some odd Belgium variety. Two weeks to wait, let’s see how it goes.
13:30 – All the beer in the bottles are almost completely clear. Visible sediment on the bottom, no trace of the carbonation drops (small sugar lumps). No visible bubbles in the beer, but the PET bottles are all hard, which means they’re compressed at least a little. I’ve read the cider-like taste could be caused by the dextrose I used, nothing to worry about yet. Next batch will be made according to the instruction in Homebrewing for Dummies – which is without the 1kg of dextrose. Difference will might be interesting, although even after a few days of rain my living room is still too hot for lager.