Today felt a little bit like Christmas - my friendly UPS guy delivered three boxes from Austin Homebrew Supply. Of course, I did already know what was coming, but it was still a lot of fun to open them.
My order consisted of four cases of twelve ounce longneck beer bottles, six cardboard four pack carriers (enough to transport one case of homebrew at once, if I so choose), and all of the ingredients necessary for my next batch of beer - an imperial nut brown ale.
This next beer will be a different experience for me in several ways. First off, I had to assemble the ingredients for the recipe (which I got off the Internet), as opposed to the prepackaged kit that I bought for my first batch (the Yorkshire brown ale). Austin Homebrew didn't have everything listed exactly like the recipe dd, so I made a substitution or two... we'll see how that afects things. Secondly, this one is a big beer - the original gravity is supposed to hit 1.081, with a final gravity of 1.016... or, in other words, an alcohol by volume of just over 8.5%.
To deal with this fact, I bought two packs of yeast (Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale) to do a double pitch, but I am seriously considering making my first starter. I'm also considering making a starter *and* pitching the second pack "as is" to ensure that I'll have more than enough yeast. If I do that, I'll surely have a great fermentation, but it seems like a bit of overkill, and would waste the yeast. Then again, I'm not planning on doing another batch in the near future that would need this yeast, and liquid yeast doesn't keep forever, so I'm looking at this pack as a sunk cost. All told, I haven't yet decided for sure what I'll do.
My first batch is still in the primary fermenter - today is the tenth complete day of the process. The krausen has fallen, with only a small bit of foam still in the middle of the carboy, and I can see a nice layer of trub collecting at the bottom. Surprising - at least to me, a complete brewing novice - is the fact that I am still getting several bubbles per minute in the airlock. I had expected the fermentation process to be all but totally complete at this point... and perhaps it is. Regardless, I am glad that I did decide to not rack it to the secondary yet, as the beer was clearly not done after a mere seven days. I'm pretty certain that I'll leave it in the secondary for a full two weeks.
As an aside, the airlock does certainly smell like beer, but the odor is still quite a bit sweeter than I had expected it would be. I am anxiously looking forward to this weekend, when I'll take a sample to ensure that my gravity is where it should be - and of course, to give me a hint of what this beer will taste like. I have been extremely careful in regards to sanitation, and will be pretty crestfallen if I have to pour out this batch.
So, as a summary, I have one batch nearing completion in my primary, another set of ingredients that I can't wait to turn into fermenting beer, and I'm already mulling over the batch I'll make following that one (leading candidates are a Chimay Grande Reserve clone and a Leffe Blonde clone). After all, I have a birthday coming up in February... wouldn't new ingredients, and perhaps some more bottles, make a great gift?
Yep, this hobby has grabbed me hard. Considering that I'm typically a one to two beer per week (max) kind of guy... I'm thinking that friends, neighbors, and co-workers are going to improve their opinion of me.
Tags for this post: christmas, beer, ale, airlock, bubbles, primary, secondary, yeast