This is a follow up to my post last week, Doing Math…for Beer, where I did some calculations for how much of what I needed to get a 1 gallon of homebrew going. Those calculations turned out needed some tweaking. Thus far, however, the experiment of doing just a single gallon has been successful. I have a burping (sometimes, very, very loudly) bottle sitting on my kitchen counter. It is filled the kitchen with the wonderful scent of wort on the march to becoming a tasty, tasty homebrew.
Starting out yesterday afternoon, I gathered up my tools and the ingredients, sanitized my starter bottle, the gallon jug, and one of my five gallon fermenters. While the bottles were resting, I got a half-pint of water and a couple of tablespoons of honey on a burner and brought it to a quick boil. I poured the starter into the smaller pint bottle and then placed it in a bowl filled with salted ice water.
This is my first time of using this sort of chilling process. It took longer than I was expecting because in part I started out with just ice in the bowl and not ice water. After a half hour chill, the starter liquid was ready and I put the Muntons yeast in, placing a balloon over the top to catch the CO2. I then stepped away for two and a half hours to let the starter get going.
Coming back to the kitchen, I poured half of the gallon of water in the pot and turned the heat on. I then took the DME and put it in a large pitcher. Adding the other half gallon to that, I stirred it around until I got it mostly mixed, resulting in a dark brown fluid with a few chunks of DME still waiting to absorb the water around it. Once the pot was up to a rolling boil, I poured my home-made LME into the pot and watched as it came back up to a boil. It didn’t take too long and once there, I backed the heat down to enough to keep it going at a simmer.
I gave it thirty minutes before adding the first half of the hops. I let this go for ten minutes before adding the other half. Then I removed the wort from the heat and let it stand for ten minutes. At which point I put it in one of my primary fermenters and with a hose filled up the gallon bottle that is sitting below in an ice bath. That did not heave nearly enough ice in it. Leave it to my luck, I found that the icemaker decided to pile the ice all on one side, giving it a false reading of being nearly full when the opposite is true.
Being careful as I filled it up, I found out that there was more wort than expected. There were several more ounces still in the bucket when I closed the spout and screwed on the lid. The lid was there to keep the beer “clean” as it cooled down. A process that took over an hour and a half despite the ice bath. I ended up scorching my finger tips a few times checking on the bottle to see if it had cooled off enough to add the yeast to it. But before I did that, I took a moment and shook the bottle with the lid on. I wanted to make sure that the wort got plenty of oxygen dissolved in it for the yeast.
This left a head on the wort that subsequently came up the neck of the bottle as I poured in the half-pint of starter. Again, I found that there was not nearly enough room to allow for all of it. I think I got about half of the half-pint in before I stopped. This brought the bubbles all the way to the lip of the lid. Not sure how long to wait, I set the first airlock in the bung and waited to watch for signs of burping. The wait was not a long one. I estimate that it was about twenty minutes before I saw the first burp occur. It was not a good sign.
There were some of the head that came up the plastic tube as the CO2 but I ignored these. At the time, I thought the foam would go down, dissolve back into the beer before it would be a problem. I was wrong. Within a half hour of the picture taken above, the beer was coming up the stem of the airlock and getting into the vodka I was using in it. After another half hour, the vodka was getting close to being pushed out of the airlock completely. Seeing this, I opened up the bottle and poured out some, replacing S-shaped airlock with one of the hat-types. This seemed to resolve the issue as the burping continued without pause but no foam was coming up the neck.
But this morning, I found the lid to the airlock popped off and the hat on the kitchen floor. The airlock was filled with beer and very foamy. It looked very much like a miniature mug of beer. I have yet to find the lid but it still is burping away, over a day later, much against my initial guesses as to what it would be doing at this point. A week from now, I will be giving it a bit more sugar and slapping the lid on.