Home Brewing Beer: Part 2

We had another busy weekend in the Lee household. Friday evening, we drove down to Kings Valley (again), but before we went to the in-law’s, we stopped by American Dream Pizza and had the most amazing pizza and beer. Two things I really miss about Corvallis: La Roca and American Dream (weird, they both have to do with food…).

On Saturday we celebrated both our niece Sierra’s 1st Birthday and the in-laws’ “45th” birthdays. I ate more barbecued food, side-dishes and cake than is healthy. So did Sierra.

Today, we headed back to Portland. It’s hot. Really hot. 94 degrees. Miserable. I’m Oregon born and raised, so as much as I complain [read: kick-and-scream] all winter long when it rains, I really prefer the cool weather and “partially cloudy” skies to mid-nineties and blazing sun.

Sun a-blazing, I sanded the door and added yet another coat of urethane to it. While that and my back-sweat were drying, we headed to the other side of town to meet up with AJ & Kate while they were in town from San Diego. I miss the Smith’s like crazy when they’re not around, but word on the street is, they might be migrating to the PNW sooner than later. I can’t wait. [Kate, it really is always sunny here. My earlier comment about rain – all lies.]

When we got home, I mowed the lawn, which hadn’t been done in about 3 weeks. Sorry neighbors! And then, with the chores done, the beer was beckoning me from the closet.

This batch has now been in the primary fermenter for 8 days. The time between bubbles in the airlock was 1 minute 15 seconds, which told me a majority of the fermentation has taken place. Before racking the beer from the primary to the secondary fermenter, I made sure my glass carboy was completely sanitized, using the same iodophor sanitizer I used before the brew begun.

Remember, a little goes a long way.

With the carboy and the siphon hose completely sanitized, I was ready to begin. To make the siphonining as easy as possible, I very carefully lift the primary fermenter to the countertop, being careful not to stir up any sediment.

With the fermenter on the countertop, stick your siphon into the beer. If you’re like me, and you haven’t invested in an auto-siphon, you have a few options. Suck on the tube until all of the beer flows all the way through the tube, then place the tube into the secondary fermenter and let it flow. Homebrew Nazis will tell you this can ruin the taste of your beer by introducing bacteria, bla-bla-bla…  You can also submerge the tube entirely, until it’s completely full of beer, place your thumb over the end and then draw it out, lowering the tube into the secondary. This essentially does the same thing as sucking, but you stick your hand into the beer, so… pick your poison.

(Hey look, the vanity from the old bathroom in the background… want it?)

With the siphon running, you can tilt the primary fermenter so that you get as much beer as possible, without sucking up the yeast cake at the bottom.

Once it’s entirely siphoned, this is what you’ll see in the primary:

Re-fil your airlock, and place it into the secondary fermenter. And you’re ready to let the beer condition for a week or two.

So what’s the purpose of the secondary fermenter? It helps clarify your beer. As you saw in the primary fermenter, there’s a lot of gunk left from the brewing and fermenting process – hop and grain residue and the yeast cake. You leave most of that behind when you siphon the beer. If you’re going to be fermenting for a long period of time, putting into the secondary fermenter also prevents the beer from picking up any bad flavor from the yeast as it dies after a few weeks. It’s also a great chance to taste the beer to see how it’s doing. You’ll notice much of the sweetness is gone from when you first started brewing. You can also start taste how hoppy the final product will be. How is it, you ask? Delicious. I think we have something to a tricerahops on our hands…

After the beer has settled out, you’re ready to bottle. More on that in a few weeks, but here’s a glimpse:

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