I firmly believe there are no such things as mistakes; only lessons. All Grain Brew #2 certainly taught me a few hops specific lessons.
As a novice beer adventurer I have no shame in admitting and, in fact, feel obligated to record these lessons, lest I have to learn them more than once.
AG Brew #2 was a lot more complicated thanAG Brew #1, but in spite of that – or perhaps because of it – it was also a lot more fun.
Aside from having to mollycoddle the mash through 3 temperature steps, I used arelatively large amount (considering the small size of my brew) of hops that were added at regular intervals.
The first lesson came from adding the hops without a hops-sock, something I never did with my extract brews, because I learned (but never experienced), that it makes an ungodly mess of the brew.
Lacking that particular practical experience I happily flicked the hops into my boiling wort, thinking how much fun it was and wondering why I never did it before.
By the time I had to transfer the cooled wort to the fermenter it was sludge that required some seriously dubious emergency filtering. That act had me worried about contamination the whole of last week.
Perhaps it was sound sanitation practices or just sheer dumb luck, but the fermentation completed successfully and the beer is – currently – deliciously uninfected.
Lesson 2’s study material was created right before I corked the fermenter with the airlock, when my brain said “Hey, didn’t you want to dry hop this? And why isn’t your hops ready weighed for this step?”
On autopilot I quickly measured the hops and lobbed it into the fermenter before sealing it and immediately doubting my actions. Hops in the primary fermenter? That doesn’t sound right.
A quick look at my reference materials confirmed that dry hopping is, in fact, done after the primary fermentation. What would have been an ordinary fermentation, became an experiment in what hops does when it’s added to the primary.
That evening, as thefermentationtook off, the answer became apparent.
After I added the hops it absorbed moisture and started to disintegrate. Perhaps before the fermentation started it was suspended in the beer or even sank to the bottom, but as the bubbles started and the foam rose, so did the hops particles.
It rode the fermentation bubbles into the fermenter neck, through the airlock and out, contributing to a very impressive, but equally messy bubble sculpture. By the end of the second day, very little, if any, of the hops remained in the fermenter and I doubt that it imparted any flavour or aroma in the short time it spent there.
So, at least now I know the obvious reason why dry hops isn’t added to the primary fermenter.
Bottling day itself was executed flawlessly.
On Friday it was the usual cold day in De Hollansche Molen, where recent mornings have started out at around 6C. I took advantage and removed the fermenter from the cool bag to expose it to the full onslaught of the cold, hoping to help settle as many suspendedparticlesas possible.
It worked well. Even though my syphoning hose rested on the yeast bed, it hardly made a dent and sucked up all the beer without disturbing the yeast.
There were no spills, no broken bottles just 8 x 440ml bottles of KickAss IPA goodness, and about 300ml extra for a hydrometer reading and decent sized tasting sample.
The Final Gravity was spot on at 1.013 (OG 1.058). It means KickAss IPA is a 5.9% ABV beer, which Brewer’s Friend reckons will give me 236 calories per 440ml bottle.
All things considered, AG Brew #2 went pretty well and can’t wait to get started with the next one and, of course, enjoy the fruits of this labour.