Saturday, January 26, 2008

So I guess I should be more diligent about keeping this blog updated but my attention lately has been consumed by watching Deadwood. Anyway it has been one week since bottling. I primed with brown sugar hoping to impart some residual molasses flavor which I think will compliment this dark stout well. Before bottling I went on the hunt for bottles from some local bars. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a case of 20oz Young's Double Chocolate Stout bottles for the cost of the deposit. These are some of the best bottles in my opinion. They are thick and durable, plus they are so dark you can hardly see through them. Which is important for protecting the beer against UV exposure and causing it to become skunky. Also the benefit of larger bottles is less bottles to fill and cap so it was a great score especially for a nickel a piece. I did actually end up having to purchase a case of 22oz bottles from the brew store. I ended up with 13 of the Young's bottles and 12 of the brew store bottles which was perfect because that was exactly how many bottles I had on hand. I am considering sampling one of the bottles today to see how the carbonation is coming along. But I will wait for at least another week to partake in any more just to allow enough time to fully carbonate. Check back later this evening for a sample report.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Day 12 Progress.

Ok so it's been about a week since my last update and my fears from day 4 were confirmed. At about day 6 I noticed there was no activity in the air lock. I took a gravity reading and it was still at 1.020 (about 55% attenuation). So I decided to transfer to the secondary fermenter thinking this would help remove some C02 and re-suspend the yeast that had settled to the bottom and maybe get things started again. A day after transferring I still had no activity in the airlock and I was still reading 1.020. . . .It was fairly obvious I had a stuck fermentation. I wanted to be sure it was stuck so I waited until day 11 and once again the gravity reading was the same. So I went to the home brew shop to pick up some red star champagne yeast and made a 500ml starter with 2oz of light DME. After about 8 hours there was plenty of activity in the starter so I pitched it into the beer. Now about 12 hours after pitching on day 12 there is airlock activity every 35-45 seconds. I haven't taken a gravity reading yet. I'm going to wait a day or two to see how the airlock activity goes. White labs web site states that WPL004 should reach 65-75% attenuation so if I can get close to that I'll be happy.

Some notes about various things:

1.I think the reason for the fermentation being stuck was lack of aeration to wort prior to pitching. Thus causing reduced growth and reproduction of the yeast during the lag stage. I did attempt to aerate by using a hand held shower head on spray setting when I added water to the(concentrated)wort thinking this splashing action would aerate it enough. The problem was I aerated the wort when it was still hot. Essentially I added the cold water in an attempt to cool the wort. When the wort is hot gases are less soluble so the O2 that I attempted to add escaped during the long cooling time. In order to avoid this problem in the future I think a wort chiller will be my next purchase . I would also like to get an O2 injecting system eventually as well.

3. After doing research I realized that 2oz of DME may have caused the gravity to be a bit higher than optimal for a starter. From now on I am going to make a larger starter of at least 1 liter (2 liters preferably) and be sure to keep the gravity at about 1.040. I would have made a larger one but the brew shop only had 500ml Erlenmeyer flasks in stock. I did not take a gravity reading from this starter but I am assuming the gravity was high due to the ratio of DME to water that I used. The optimal ratio of water to DME is 10:1 (1 gram of DME for every 10 ml of water) my starter was approx 10:1.2. Not too bad but a little high none the less. I do plan on making a starter for all brews from now on and eventually I would like to get a stir plate.