Tag Archives: learning

Tools

A few weeks ago, Hopster asked me if I had a bottling wand.

A what?

He’d been reading my blog and seen the post where I talk about bottling the winter warmer. I’d complained about getting too much foam in my bottles and having to be very careful about regulating the flow when I transferred the beer from secondary.

He proceeded to describe a tube that had a valve at the end, you press down and liquid comes out. You insert the tube into the bottle and it fills from the bottom up, instead of pouring in. Brilliant!

So I go to Steinbart’s to ask if they have such a thing. I still don’t know what I’m looking for, visually, but with a name you can find anything. They do have one so I go to look for it…and I already have one.

I’ve had one since I started brewing six years ago; it was part of the kit my Dad bought me! I just didn’t know what it was or what it uses were. I just kept it because, well, I figured it would have a use eventually, right?

Indeed. This is what a bottling wand looks like: bottling wand

That long tube with the black tip is what I’m talking about. I have to say, it worked pretty well. I hardly spilled, had to do less work regulating the flow of the beer and had a better bottling experience overall.

I wish I’d known what that tool was when I’d started, but alas I had no instructors. There’s possibly some kind of lesson to be learned here about ‘men knowing how to use their tools’ (insert innuendo as you feel the need) but I think the better lesson is what happens when you share your experiences with people.

Disappointments

Not quite right
Not quite right

The amber I made didn’t work out. You can probably see that in the growling of my face.

Oh, it’s drinkable. I can’t say it’s a failure, but so far it has not met expectations.

The nose on this beer is nice and sweet; UK Golding hops serving me well here, the boiling of hops that I’d used in a dry-hopping process working out just fine. The beer isn’t bitter, but it does have some body to it.

Once again, however, it’s just not carbonated. Now I’d bottled this beer before finding out about the trick of re-introducing yeast to the beer so hopefully this problem will be eliminated in the future. Beer ought to be carbonated (at least a bit) and I don’t feel like waiting another three weeks or more for the stuff to behave. However, if all goes well, this will be the last time I have to deal with this problem, so huzza!

What’s more troubling is that there are strange black particles at the bottom of my glass. ¬†Tiny black ashes. It’s like there were burnt malts that were allowed to stay in the beer, somehow. Or who friggin’ knows what went wrong there.

There really is only one proper response to this kind of situation; open up another beer, and find out if it has the same issues.
~you’ll have to imagine me getting a beer at this point~

So, now that I’ve had the next beer, I can say that this doesn’t seem to be a pattern. This beer is clearer, and while there are particulates at the bottom of it, I don’t think they are the same kind. The previous one probably came near the end of the carboy, where more yeast and other particulates can make it into the beer.

I’m still drinking flat beer, though. Sigh.

Still learning.

When I met Alastair Hook, he made the point of being willing to give a beer the time it needs to develop. Meantime’s IPA takes months, not weeks, and the effort shows.

I replied: That kind of patience is something I’m just starting to learn.

Or am I?

I woke up this morning to drop the 1056 yeast in the beer. Thermostat read 74 degrees fahrenheit. And a fine layer of foam on the top, while the airlock bubbled away.

Sigh. ¬†Well, I already had the new packet of yeast ready to go (apparently 6 hours in the basement works out to about 3 hours in a room of normal temperatures) so I added it in. Not so bad I suppose but still, I wish I’d given that beer more time to get going. Or maybe just more faith in myself that I’d taken and stored the yeast from the pale correctly in the first place.

Because if anything is true in this instance, it’s that I was not confident in my own ability to follow instructions, which lead to me not wanting to see how things worked out, but to take action. Which is weird, since I’ve been on a pretty good roll lately, making beers that were at the very least, drinkable.

So there are a few lessons to learn here.