The Experiment: 1 Gallon Batch

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.

The primary gear used in this experiment
The primary gear used in this experiment

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.

The starter is ready to be used
The starter is ready to be used

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.

Home made LME
Home made LME

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.

LME added and brought back up to a boil
LME added and brought back up to a boil
The setup for the icebath
The setup for the icebath

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.

Chilling the wort
Chilling the wort

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.

Finished in spirit but not actually done
Finished in spirit but not actually done

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.

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