First off, let’s talk about last Friday night. It was a busy…but very fruitful evening that will pay dividends down the line as we continue to lay our plans towards professional brewing. We built ourselves a fermentation/carbonation chamber. In other words, we cleaned out and drilled holes into a refrigerator.
But this was no small task. No sirree Bob. This was quite the tall order.
The refrigerator in question was NAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSTTTTTTYYYYYYYY!!!!!!
It was almost as if the mold and mildew within the fridge had been left there long enough to evolve into higher forms of life. Each seemingly developed their own technologically advanced civilizations that would eventually obliterate each other in some form of thermo-nuclear warfare all stemming from a conflict over who controlled the butter tray. Their ultimate and mutual destruction would wipe away all traces of their once great societies. The carnage left behind would leave no lasting imprint of their art or culture. There would be no one left to sings songs or write tales of their greatness. Sludge and filth, combined with the rotting stench of death, would be the only legacy these civilizations would leave in their wake.
Yep. That about sums it up.
Needless to say, we had no small task ahead of us.
While I feel extremely bad for whoever used the foamy brush after us, I am happy to report that this plan of action worked superbly and without a hitch.
We followed that up with a good bleaching, and one ruined t-shirt later, we had a sparkling clean and sanitized refrigerator in good working (and non smelling) order.
Hooray for us.
We drilled a few holes in the side of the fridge, ran some air lines in, and voila! Our temperature controlled chamber for beer carbonation was complete!
Why was this necessary? Simple.
In order to make our beer bubbly, we have to add carbonation to it. Otherwise we will just have good tasting, but ultimately flat and less than satisfying, brew. Take my word for it, this is not a good thing.
Method 1) Add sugar to the beer and bottle it up. The still active yeast within the beer will get excited and chow down on this new sugar and will do its thing. It will eat the sugar, and fart out CO2.
If the bottles are capped and sealed this gas will have nowhere to go, and we in turn will have beer with bubbles trapped inside. This is a fairly easy option, and required no additional equipment, but the results can be a bit mixed depending upon the amount of yeast that are still live and kicking, the amount of sugar you use, the temperature at which the bottles are stored, and the amount of time you wait. It’s a guessing game at best. The other downside…floaties in the brew.
Because there still needs to be a certain amount of yeast in suspension within the bottles when you go this route, you will finish up with a cloudier beer. It will still taste good, but you will have a bit of crud at the bottom of the bottle. No biggie if you are content being a homebrewer, only drinking homebrew…but we want something more out of this operation.
That’s why we have opted for method 2) Force carbonation.
In a nutshell, we transfer our beer into kegs, and then apply a specific and constant amount of CO2 pressure into the kegs using a tank and regulator. From that point, it’s pretty simple and well charted science. If we want X amount of bubbles, we just need to store our kegs at Y temperature for Z days and apply Q amount of pressure to it. When that equation has been fulfilled, we are done…and bubbly brew awaits us.
So why then the fridge? I’m getting to it. Gosh, you sure are impatient.
Liquids, such as beer, accept and embrace carbonation better at lower temperatures than they do at higher. As long as the temperature is held at a consistent mark for the duration of the process, the job can be completed at any temperature…but it is much more efficient to tackle the task at a lower temp. Put another way…carbonating in the fridge will require less air, costing us less money.
And that’s a good thing.
So we put our kegs in the fridge, hooked the fridge up to a temperature controller, cranked up the CO2, and bid our brew a fond adieu for a week. When we come back to it on Friday, it should be at the perfect level of bubbliness. Goodbye guesswork.
In other news, I had the chance to do some fancy-dancy designin’ last week.
Here’s what I have whipped up for our latest labels:
Let us know what you think.
And in other news, I am happy to report that pseudo-consistent brewing should once again be resuming. Babies (and more importantly Baby Mamas) are now to the point where we can get back to some kind of somewhat regular schedule of brewing again. To call me stoked would be an understatement.
Next up, the reprise of our Hot Blonde which we will be brewing for the second time this coming Friday. And while I am indescribably ecstatic about this venture, I might actually be more excited about what we will be drinking while we brew.
It’s brew-ducation night for Brian and Justin, as they have willingly agreed (to my utter shock, amazement, and complete delight) to make this Friday an IPA tasting night.
What does this mean? It means that an India Pale Ale might just be in our near future. Suh-to the frickin-weeet!
I can smell the hops already.