Pints for Prostates

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bottling the March Haters Ale

When I woke up Sunday, February 5th I was mentally prepared to get going and bottle some beer. However, when I pulled the blankets back I realized that the room felt chilly. The thermostat read 54 degrees (!). Uh oh. Bottling beer would have to wait until I attended to this critical issue. Despite my quite limited efforts, I needed professional help to get the furnace running again. Because the weather in Upstate New York was unseasonably warm (you can see grass in the picture below) and I have a wood stove, I agreed to have the repairman come first thing Monday morning. The next step was to get that wood stove cranking out some heat. Between the wood stove and the sunshine the temperature went back up to 64 degrees. I could finally turn my attention toward bottling the March Haters Ale.  

The beer had fermented for three weeks with an ambient temperature of 65 degrees. I think that in the future I will at least start my vigorous fermentation in the basement, at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

I took a sample to measure the gravity. The final gravity was 1.012 (the recipe had a target FG of 1.013). The color was a light, caramel color, which might might be dark for an American Pale Ale, but still within style. The beer was clearer than what the photo suggests. It tasted good. In fact, I kept taking sips of the sample throughout the bottling process. I drank it all.

Final Gravity: 1.012
March Haters Ale Sample
I used the following setup and process for cleaning the bottles:

  • I filled one half of the sink with warm water and a packet of Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW). 
  • In the other half of the sink, I put my bottling bucket, which was half full with a hot water and StarSan solution.
  • I put two trays on the floor.
  1. I put a six pack of bottles at a time in the PBW. 
  2. I used a new sponge to wash the outside of each bottle. I shook each bottle to rinse it out good. I used a bottle brush for some of the bottles.
  3. With a bottle in each hand, I submerged the bottles in the StarSan, shook, emptied, then put the bottles onto the trays. I repeated this until the whole six pack was on the tray.
  4. I put plastic wrap over the bottles.

I used a few different bottles this time. I used short, Sierra Nevada style bottles. I used some pint-sized, Guinness Stout style bottles that a friend gave me. The bottles had been sitting in his shed for awhile so I used my bottle brush to clean them out. I also bottled a twelve pack of plain brown bottles, in case there is an opportunity to send the beer to a competition.

Update (2012-02-16): Even though it was not a full three weeks, I was eager to try the beer. I refrigerated and opened a bottle. It did not have much carbonation yet, but it tasted good! I'll save the specifics for another post.