It’s been two weeks or so since I put Old Churches into secondary, and it was time to move it into bottles. I wanted to bottle this before the yeast went completely dormant, because I seem to have a perpetual issue with brewing beer that isn’t effervescent. There are supposed to be bubbles, damnit! At least some bubbles, anyway.
The process for putting Old Churches into bottles is pretty simple; first sanitize the bottles, bottlecaps, and syphon in a solution of iodophor. I ususally do this about 24 hours beforehand so these things can dry out and I don’t get sanitizer flavor in my beer.
Then I boil two cups of water, adding 3/4 cup of sugar and let that go for about five minutes to sanitize the solution. I’m told this is the process for making a simple syrup, though I’ve never seen it refered to as such in the brewing recipes I’ve seen. After I let the syrup cool I added it into the wort, and let it sit for about five minutes. This step is new; in the past I’ve just stirred the syrup into the wort and started filling bottles. I let it sit this time in the hopes that the sugars will be more evenly dispersed throughout the beer, so the yeast will be active in all of them.
This took about twenty minutes. As I filled the bottles, I put caps on them, so the oxygen in the top could be pushed out as the beer generated CO2. I don’t know that that happens, I read that it was a good idea, so why not? It’s a little tricky to manage this by myself, but I usually get it done. Because I didn’t have enough regular bottles I used a couple growlers too. The up side; about three people get two beers each per growler. The down side; once I open a growler, I pretty much have to make sure the whole thing gets drank otherwise the beer goes flat. And flat beer going flatter is not good.
Although it’s not quite a punishment, having to drink a lot of beer.
One other drawback is that I had more beer than bottles for it. Now because sometimes I’m too clever for my own good, I tried to use this opportunity to fill a large mug to get a hydrometer reading for the terminal gravity. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough beer for that; my hydrometer sank right to the bottom of the glass and bounced. There’s a better way to do this, I’m sure, but I haven’t put resources to solving this problem yet. Which is another way of saying I’m lazy, but what the hell.
I didn’t have anything else to do with this beer except drink it, so I did. The coffee flavors were strong but not too bitter, and the yeast gave this beer a density that brown ales just don’t have. The mouthfeel was thicker than what a brown ale ought to be, and the beer finished off with a note of banana. Which seemed pretty unusual, but quite tasty after the strong coffee start.
Now all I have to do is wait a week and see what comes out. It might take two weeks for things to really come together, but I’ll likely give it a taste in seven days to see what my initial impressions are. Or, uh, second initial impressions.