Wednesday 14 August 2013

EPF!: Secondary and Bottling

Secondary carboy with dry hopped EPF!, you can see the dissolved Helga hop residue around the upper part of the carboy.
Hi Home Brew Fans!

We are back and ready to tell you all about our secondary and bottling experience. The transfer of beer into a secondary carboy is pretty straightforward but nonetheless a crucial step in adding tones of character to the beer. Secondary is done to get the beer off the yeast bed, for various reasons, as well as to add the hops -- a process that is called dry hopping. As I mentioned in the last post we dry hopped with Helga pellets (50g). The pellets are much more economical but like everything else in life they don't compare to the non-processed stuff i.e. whole leaf hops.

The beer stays in the secondary long enough for the Helga hops to infuse their wonderful aroma into the beer, 7 days will do the trick for this beer. After those 7 days passed we took a sample of the beer to measure the final specific gravity, 1.010 and tasted it to make sure everything was going well. Because this was the first time we used Helga hops we did not know what to expect. The overall aroma and flavour were rather subdued, but came through as a light citrus with mild spicy notes.       

Roughly 4.5 gallons remain after Secondary.
Hydrometer with EPF! sample, reads 1.010.

After the seven days were up we began the bottling process. This part of the process is mostly composed of a lot of cleaning and sanitizing and more cleaning. We sanitize our bottling bucket, siphon hose, bottles, bottle caps, bottling wand, and bottling hose. It's a long job but I cannot stress enough how important it is!

The final phase of the process involves: boiling sugar; siphoning the beer from secondary to the bottling bucket; filling the bottles; capping the bottles; and more washing... We boiled roughly 95g of corn sugar to reach our target carbonation of 2.3 vol. Good beer style examples of that level of carbonation are IPAs, Pale Ales, APAs, Lagers, etc. We then allowed the dissolved sugar solution to cool, once cooled we added it to the bottling bucket.

Then we siphoned, with a pump, the beer from the secondary carboy to the bottling bucket - trying as much as possible not to aerate the beer to avoid any oxidation that would lead to  rust-like flavours, not exactly what we are aiming for with this beer. Following that, we bottle. We allow the beer to foam to the top of each bottle, when the foam subsides the bottles are left with about 1 inch of head space - enough room to balance the pressure that will be building up. And, last of all we cap each bottle, clean them up, label the caps, and store them away at room temperature to condition. We check them after about two weeks of bottle conditioning to see if they have carbonated to the desired level.

Large cast iron basin used for cleaning and sanitizing our equipment.

Bottling bucket filled with beer and dissolved sugar - for carbonating.
Sanitized bottles in a cooler being filled with the bottling wand.
Adjustable bottle capper.

So that is it for Secondary and Bottling. Expect more pictures and less words next time. And, Thanks so much for reading, I hope you were all able to learn something. Check back in when we review our EPF!


- Jean

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