Tuesday, December 02, 2008
All homebrewers have a list of screwups they can recount. The dropped carboys, ingredients discovered "leftover" when the brew day is done, the timing issues, and many others may come to mind. These aren't the things we like to admit to, much less recount to others in a blog, but I feel compelled to mention one that just simply irritates the heck out of me and this one is a week old!
Last week I bottled five gallons of beer with beet sugar. I also assisted a fellow homebrewer with his ten gallon bottling day. I checked the recipe on Beertools (I love that program!), and discovered that the recipe called for some 8 ounces of sugar to prime the batch. Now, since I was only bottling half the batch, you would think I would be smart enough to actually split the amount of suggested sugar in half and use that amount to bottle my five gallons. Well, then, you would be WRONG!
I decided that, instead of measuring the sugar by volume, I would actually weigh it. This would offer a much more precise method of measurement so that the carbonation would be more precise. Or, so I thought. I marvelled at the large volume of the sugar, remarking at how it was a full cup of sugar or more. "Wow", I said, "that looks like a lot of sugar. Maybe it's too much. I don't want bottle bombs!" So I intelligently poured out a little before I put it into the pot of hot water. So much for precision! Never did the fact that this was much more sugar than I have ever used to bottle a five gallon batch of beer before-in over eight years of brewing -ever cross my feeble mind!
Then after actually bottling the beer, I went to Art's house and assisted him in bottling his. You guessed it. I weighed the seven and a half ounces of sugar and used that amount for EACH of the five gallon batches we bottled. I really don't have an excuse for this. I knew all along that this was more sugar than should be used but the fact that I had taken the data from Beertools, left me assured that it was correct. Of course it was. Even Beertools could not keep me from doubling the amount of sugar they prescribed!
Later in the day, I realized my error. I knew that not only was I in trouble but that I had made potential bottle bombs in Art's house as well. I told him what I had realized and suggested we pop the tops and recap. This might release enough pressure to save the bottles from blowing and the beer from being wasted. I advised Art to keep his relatively cold while I kept mine room temp and 'sperimented a bit. Over the next couple of days I did just that. In one case I had a gusher the second day after bottling. I recapped and checked it again a day later. Another gusher. The same bottle third day? Gusher. I thought I might need to put on my hockey helmet to open these beers! I realized the plan would NOT work.
I called Art and we decided we would just pour all the beer into fermenters and let it finish out, then re-bottle. I went and bought a fourth Corny keg and put mine in there! If I want to bottle, I'll bottle out of the keg. Art put his into two carboys. When he says he's ready, I'll go and assist him in bottling his with the correct amount of sugar, this time. It's only right for me to do my penance!