I have been very busy since my last batch update. Last time, I was doing a lot of racking. This time, in keeping with this week’s theme, I’ve been doing a lot of bottling.
My bottling hiatus ended on March 25, when I bottled N.E. Maibock. This was slightly ahead of schedule. The original plan was to bottle it in mid April to be ready on the first of May. Knowing that I had a lot of other bottling to do and knowing that it had already been lagering since January, I decided to go ahead and it done. The finishing gravity was a little higher than planned. 1.022 is out of the range of BJCP guidelines for the style, but my beer is already dark from an excess of Munich malt, so I’m not overly concerned with matching style guidelines. This puts the beer at 6.4% ABV, which is in the acceptable range. I have already sampled a bottle and the high ending gravity is noticeable, but not unwelcome. This is a malt bomb through and through.
On the same day, I added the one ounce Mount Hood dry hop to Mount Hoodie. I let the hops do their work for five days and then bottled this batch on March 30. Amy helped with this bottling session. It is still carbonating, but the gravity sample tasted great and the aroma is wonderful. This one, despite brew day issues, ended right on target at 1.012, putting it at 5.6% ABV.
After bottling Mount Hoodie, I cleaned the carboy and racked Maggie Moo’s Cocoa Cream Stout into it. I mentioned before that the chocolate seemed to form a layer on top of the beer which looked like it could be fermentation activity or may actually be preventing fermentation. This was the second time I racked this beer, already well past the original planned bottling date. This time, the chocolate film didn’t form, nor was there any obvious fermentation going on. I bottled the beer on April 2, four days later. The gravity was very high, 1.030, but it had been steady there for well over a week. This puts the ABV at 6% but my original fears of bottle bombs have now been replaced by a fear of no carbonation. The sample tasted great with bitter bakers chocolate dominating and a thick, oily mouth feel. Fingers crossed for a good bottle conditioning.
The day before bottling the chocolate stout, the same day I brewed Elkland Amber Lager, I bottled Table Cat. This is only six days after brewing the beer, the soonest I’ve ever bottled anything. On March 30, while bottling Mount Hoodie I took a gravity sample of this beer after noticing that the very active fermentation of the first few days had already died down. It was already at 1.002! That was the predicted terminal gravity and it was still there a few days later when I bottled. At 2.6% ABV, this beer counts on carbonation for a lot of it’s character. It is hard to make a judgment on uncarbonated gravity samples. Hopefully the yeast does this last bit of work just as quickly.
Finally, in the one bit of non bottling or brewing activity, I racked Elkland Golden Lager on April 1. I put Elkland Amber Lager right into the bucket I took Golden out of, so I racked it while Amber was being chilled. There was still a bit of activity going on, so I wouldn’t normally bother it, but I had to get the bucket free and seemed to be a good thing because the next day, both beers were fermenting like crazy. I put four gallons each in two five gallon carboys. As previously mentioned, I plan to add a gallon of water and a packet of champagne yeast to each. I’m going to wait for the lager yeast to calm down first, though. I’m guessing in another week or so.
I now have eight cases of beer conditioning in the kitchen (sorry, Amy) so look forward to some serious tasting notes in a couple of weeks.