Wednesday, July 25, 2007

the importance of secondary fermentation: the jury is still out

This morning I moved the Irish red ale from my new secondary fermenter, a glass carboy, into a keg, and then the Saison that was the source of all that ruckus a couple of weeks ago from the plastic primary fermenting bucket into the glass carboy. This involved a considerable amount of washing and sanitizing, not to mention an episode of spatial impossibility when it came to extracting a muslin bag of hops from the carboy's 2-inch neck. It was floating at the top like a big tea bag, so it wasn't hard to snag it and pull the first couple of inches through, but eventually I had to cut the bag open and pull out successive wads of hops until finally I could wrest the rest out; it brought camels and eyes of needles to mind, and the certainty that there has to be a better way...right?

Two-stage brewing purportedly makes for clearer beer; sure enough, only a small amount of trub had collected following transfer from the primary fermenter, and it was easy to leave this behind when I siphoned the beer into a keg for the final conditioning phase. Worth the hassle? I'll let you know when we tap it.

The Saison continues to be a mystery. Fermentation had slowed but not entirely stopped, judging from the 2-3 lazy bubbles per minute still visible in the airlock this morning, 10 days after the batch was brewed. I wanted to get the beer into glass, though, to prevent it from oxidizing. I don't really know what that means in a beer quality sense, but it sounds bad; anyhow, I want to be able to keg it by the end of next week, when we're headed away for a few days, so there was no more time to delay. I heaved the bucket up onto the kitchen cabinet at the beginning of the whole process so it would have time to settle before siphoning. When I finally pulled off the lid, though, I saw evidence of the most cataclysmic fermentation my bucket has ever known. There was trub blown all the way to the top of its walls, trub caked and dried on the underside of the lid, trub creeping up the airlock's central tube, impossible to remove. I'm not sure what this means, if anything; I just know that it's as different from the scant inch or so of mayhem that I usually scrape off the fermenter as the 10 days were from the customary 2, and I'm really curious to taste the results in about a month.

If I have time tonight, I think I'll finally make that chile beer.

1 comment:

cathye said...

i'm coming up on tuesday to r & n's. we should come in to see you and drink from your keg-o-rator!