Today, after allowing it to sit for almost fifteen full days in the primary, I racked my Yorkshire brown ale to the secondary fermenter. I had some adventures taking my gravity reading - I pulled a 1.020 on the first try, which would indicate that somehow, in just over a day. I had managed to LOSE fermentation. Clearly, this was not possible - one of the readings had to be wrong - so I worried about which I had gotten wrong. I spun the thief to ensure that there weren't any bubbles interfering with the measurement... then finally realized that my hydrometer was sitting at the bottom of the thief, making it physically impossible for the reading to go down any more.
I dumped that sample into a cup, took another sample, and pulled a 1.012 - exactly what my last measurement was. On the bright side, I now had a double-sized sample to drink (I won't return a sample to the carboy to make sure that I don't introduce any bacteria to the beer).
Incidentally, I don't think that I was very fair to this beer on my first tasting; this time, I was ready for the lack of carbonation and how that affects the entire experience. I have decided, on further consideration, that this beer has a LOT of potential. There's a lot more flavor than I was thinking was present, and while the alcohol warmth is still there, it's not unpleasant. I think that a few weeks will turn this into a very good beer; a little more time might make it even better (dare it call it borderline excellent?).
Today would be my first experience with the auto siphon - a neat little contraption that prevents me from having to do the old "fill the tube with water, keep a finger on both ends, hold your mouth just right to get the siphon started" method. In an effort to cut down on mistakes that would harm my beer, I practiced siphoning with some water first, but did notice that I was getting a lot of bubbles in the liquid. This is a bad thing; exposure to oxygen can ruin a beer. A quick internet search gave a couple of tips as to how to prevent this, so I followed one (poured a little sanitized water into the top of my pump, which created a perfect vacuum). Voila, no air bubbles!
I also managed to get water on my floor a couple of times. I was using my bottling bucket as a sanitizing bucket, and had assembled the spout on the bucket incorrectly. I had managed to put it together with no washer on the outside, and both washers on the inside (like some sort of putz). Not surprisingly, this equalled water on the floor. At least it was only water, not beer, so it wasn't a big deal.
The actual siphoning of the beer was a pretty simple experience, and I now have a five gallon carboy full of ale, minus the yeast cake/trub that was at the bottom of the primary fermenter.
The little boys (my two year old and four year old sons) were fascinated with the process. I commented that it was too bad I didn't have a camera to take pics of what I was doing - my wife was shooting wedding pictures today - so Noah (my four year old) went and got his "kid tough" camera. He took pictures of the siphoning, both carboys, me, his brothers... he had a great time. I got to see a digital picture of myself with clown hair superimposed on my head.
After today's playoff game (go, Niners!), I undertook the less than fun task of cleaning out my primary. A six and a half gallon glass bottle is heavy and tough to scrub on the inside, though the little boys thought that it was fun... go figure. My thirteen year old son rolled his eyes at me running gallon after gallon of hot water through the carboy, but again, I don't think that there's anything wrong with being absolutely sure that my equipment is clean. Better to run an unneeded gallon of hot rinse water through the carboy than to leave behind something that might introduce germs or cleaning solvent flavors to a future batch of beer!
Noah (the four year old) can't wait for me to get my next batch going in the primary, and I feel much the same way. I'll start my imperial nut brown ale sometime in the coming week (need to sweet talk my wife into picking up some maple syrup for me at the store), and two weeks from now, I'll bottle the Yokshire brown.
I haven't even had the chance to enjoy my first bottle of homebrew yet, but I'm pretty much addicted already.
Tags for this post: auto, siphon, carboy, ale, yorkshire, brown, air, bubbles, leaky