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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Making Beer: The Fermentation

I thought everybody might be interested in an update on the beer. Well, lets just say things are moving along. How do I know? Well the airlock blew off the barleywine for starters ;-) Once we pitched the yeast and moved the fermenters to a place where it was cool, it was time to wait. If you use a starter for the yeast, then the fermentation should be active in less than 24 hours. Well I always forget to start the yeast a day or two early and well...lets just say it takes a little longer, 52 hours for the Alt and 69 hours for the barleywine. So, who cares? Well, the longer it takes the yeast to take hold as the dominant microrganism the more chance that some other little pest will decide to feast on the wort. This is why I have been obsessing over this for a few days now. I tried a bunch of things to get that yeast to really start working. I'm not sure that any of them were the right thing, but, hey I was scared! :-)
  • Placed them in warmer places in the house so that the wort temp would rise to just over 70 degress F. Warmer temperatures help get it started. Had to cool it down later once it started.
  • Shook up the fermenters about 3 times each to make sure that the wort was aerated enough.
  • Stared at the air lock a lot.
Well they finally started. I think it was because of the staring myself ;-) Well the Alt was the first to start and it chugged along for a couple days. I think it just about finished as of 10pm Tues. Then there was the barleywine. I'm pretty sure I stared at this batch a little too long. As I mentioned before the air lock blew off twice. The second time it actually put a somewhat large spot on my ceiling. Now that's active fermentation! Spouses just love that kinda thing. After cleaning up the mess in the basement I decided it was time to remedy the problem. All I needed was a blow off tube fed into a bucket of water. Kind of like a big airlock. Stopped at the hardware store to pickup a hose coupler and some more tubing. It worked like a charm. Here's a short video of the blow off tube bubbling in the bucket of water. (warning it's kinda dark) Next I'll need to rack the Altbier into a glass carboy. This will separate the beer from the sediment so it doesn't take on undesireable flavors from the dying yeast. During this process I'm also going to try and save the yeast for reuse next time. That should save me about eight dollars a batch :-)

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