My first batch of home brew is in the books. Overall, I am very pleased with the results but know that there are many more extract kits to be brewed before I can put on some big girl pants and move on to all-grain brewing.
I ended up only doing a primary fermenter, opting to skip on the secondary as I was told by a friend that a secondary isn’t necessary for a lighter beer, such as the APA I was brewing. Instead, I was told to pop the lid off the pale on the third day of fermentation and just skim the gunk off the top, of course sterilizing my skimming tool, to avoid major sediment in my finished beer. After that, I closed it back up and let it ferment for three more days.
Before bottling, I needed to make another trip to Brew Camp in order to make the process easier (as well as future batches of beer). After getting a mouth full of sanitizer when transferring the wort to the primary, I thought an auto-siphon was worth the expense. I also purchased a legit stirring paddle and a thermometer.
The last thing I did was to buy a case of Brooklyn Brewery’s variety pack the night before bottling and drank it to ensure I’d have enough bottles to house my beer. This was one of the more pleasant tasks in brewing that also gave immediate results — always desirable. Little did I know that Brooklyn Brewery has some of the most stubborn labels in the universe. It only took two cylcles in the dishwasher with detergent with major scrubbing and one final run with sanitizer to get the labels MOSTLY off.
I ended up bottling on a Saturday night. I enlisted the help of my roommate — she boiled the water and dissolved the priming sugar while I prepped and sterilized my equipment. All went smoothly; between two people, the process was very easy. I manned the siphon/bottler while my roommate supplied me with empty bottles and cleared filled ones. I instructed her to put caps on the bottles loosely while they waited to be capped as I read that doing so eliminates the oxygen at the top of the bottle, making conditions more favorable for carbonation. Two weeks later, they’d finally be enjoyed.
The first beer was great. It actually looked and tasted like an APA should; a slightly cloudy, amber color that poured a good head. The carbonation was spot on. Mouth feel was good, but could be better. Perhaps a bit more grain during steeping would be useful should I ever do another APA. Despite this, everything went well. Obviously the most fun part is drinking beer that you made yourself, but it was also fun having friends and family try my beer. Makes sipping beer on a hot summer day that much more enjoyable.
Now all I need to do is decide what style I want to brew next?