It took us way too long (4 hours start to finish) – but we got it done. Five gallons of amber liquid are safely tucked away in their fermenter with a bunch of happy yeast. In about a month, we should have bottles of hoppy Pale Ale.
The night’s challenges:
1. Boiling water. We recognize that it may seem totally stupid that this is an issue, but it was. Using a 20 quart stainless steel stock pot, we brought about 3.5 gallons to a boil. It took forever – 45 minutes. Some of this could be my gas range, but a little reading on the subject suggests that this is pretty common when using standard kitchen stoves. Next time, we’re going to use a stand-alone propane burner that Keith can steal from his mother-in-law.
2. How much is five gallons? We siphoned the wort out of the brew kettle into our glass carboy. Then we were supposed to add clean water until it reached 5 gallons. Except we didn’t know how high five gallons was on he carboy. Yeah, yeah – it’s a five gallon carboy, so does that mean fill it all the way to the top, mostly to the top, etc? Anyway, we poured the beer into a sanitized 6.5 gallon bucket that had measurement marks on the side, added the water, then siphoned it back into the carboy. Problem solved. Remember – we’re english majors, not math or physics majors. This was a high point.
3. Stupid hydrometer readings. When measuring the specific gravity of your beer, you use an instrument called a hydrometer. According to the book, you’re supposed to remove beer from the carboy (for sanitation purposes) and then measure the specific gravity of the beer. Then you throw the beer away (or drink it if it’s near being done). Here’s the deal – you need a TON of beer to measure it if you don’t have the right kind of container to put the beer in. The hydrometer is tall, so the container you are using has to be at least that tall, too. The closes thing I had was a flower vase, which would have meant I needed about two pints of beer in order for the hydrometer to float correctly. Instead, we just didn’t take a measurement. Probably a major faux pas, but I wasn’t about to waste that much beer. I bought a tube today that is designed for just this purpose. I’ll take a measurement tonight.