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Murphy Visits Again When I Bottle the Roggenbier

Posted by homebrewdad on 9/10/2014 at 08:16:23 PM

This weekend, I finally got around to bottling my roggenbier. I had planned to do so two weeks after pitching yeast (provided that gravity was stable), but then, I discovered that my old friend Bottle Infection was still hanging around, so I put it off.

I won't go into everything I have done in the past (read my last post if you want the gory details), but I did purchase a brand new bottling bucket (with lid), a new spigot, and a new autosiphon. I had planned to purchase new silicone tubing, but my LHBS only had vinyl... and I just can't see going back to vinyl. Instead, I rinsed that tubing very well, then boiled it for a little over fifteen minutes. Theoretially, that should have come very close to actually sterilizing it (not just sanitizing). I purchased a bottle washer, so prior to sanitizing the bottles, I gave them all a liberal jet rinsing of hot water.

Furthermore, I have decided to add in a couple of extra precautions to my bottling - namely, I am keeping a lid on my bucket the entire time, and am placing a sanitized bottle cap down onto the beer bottles the moment they are filled (in the past, I would fill them in one pass, then cap in another pass).

Saturday night, I started the process. In the past, I have always boiled my priming solution first, then racked the beer on top of it. I have marks on my fermentor to help me estimate volume, but this time, I decided to be precise - so I racked the beer first, planning to stir the priming sugar solution in after.

It was about the time that I started racking that I realized that dear old Murphy had decided to join me for yet another beer-related activity.

First off, I noticed just how much trub was at the bottom of this batch. Man, rye is weird. In fact, I started to worry a little at just how much trub I saw...

My old autosiphon was amazing. If it ever bubbled, I'd add a litle sanitizer solution to the inner valve, and that would be that. The new one bubbled like crazy; the sanitizer helped, but it became apparent that my tubing wasn't a perfect fit at the top (perhaps still expanded a bit due to the heat?). I thinkered with it and got it going... for a half gallon. Several times, the stupid thing stopped altogether, forcing me to re-start the siphon. Yay for potential oxidation!

When the racking was done, my fears were realized - I had the tiniest hair over four gallons in my bucket, with barely any left behind in the fermentor. How on earth did that happen?

Yes, I had overshot my OG (1.071, target was 1.065), but I had nailed the volume. Seeing as how this was a dedoction mash, a small overrun in gravity was not unexpected. That being said, I had literaly lost an entire extra gallon to the trub (I really should have taken a picture).

Four weeks in, gravity at this point was also high - to the tune of 1.019 (target OG ws 1.012). 73% attenutation for WLP300 was within specs, but I was pretty worried. Number one, I was going to be a gallon short; number two, all I have heard about is how thick and chewy rye beers are. If I had an under attenuated product, as well? I was afraid the beer would just be gross.

So, I did some research, then made what may prove to be a ruinously foolish decision - I decided to top off to reach five gallons and get down to a FG of 1.014.

I took a little over a gallon of water, added campden and priming sugar, then boiled for a little over fifteen minutes. I cooled this, then carefully added it to the bottling bucket (which, thankfully, had been covered this entire time), and stirred like crazy (which being careful to not splash). In the end, I had my five gallons.

I started bottling, being sure to place a cap after every filled bottle. I stirred the solution during the process, just to be sure that everything stayed as consistent as possible. Then, all were capped, and I was done.

So, what now? Wait until two weeks after bottling, then taste the beer... that's really all I can do. I can say that the bottling bucket sample was delicious - rye truly does make for a unique, spicy flavor; I could see this becoming a "secret ingredient" that I go to on a regular basis. The sample didn't seem particularly watery (to me, bottling samples are always a bit watery), but who knows?

Hopefully, I'll still end up with some great beer. I'm going to be quite annoyed with myself if I just ruined it with that kind of decicion.

Time will tell.

Tags for this post: bottling, roggenbier, rye, screw-ups

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