Monday, February 25, 2008
BarleyCorn Beer Making Part Deux
Two weeks after brewing beer at BarleyCorn's we returned for the bottling process. It was actually a mini family affair as I went with my little brother, dad and mom. I was slightly worried about the outcome as we had a couple minnie f-ups while brewing, including dumping in the hops too quickly while the wort was too hot, resulting in the whole thing boiling over, losing a significant portion of the hops. As hops are wicked expensive now-a-days, we weren't allowed to add in any extra. As the helper guy told us last time, "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that too much, you probably didn't lose too much hops, and if you did, it won't affect the taste too much". We would see...
The day before bottling the staff transfers the beer from the big plastic jug seen at the end of the brewing post to a metal keg type container which is suitable for bottling from. As I'm a big fan of the second 'R' in the reduce-reuse-recycle mantra, I brought all of our beer bottles to use instead of buying new ones. The bottles first must be sanitized in this neat little dishwasher thing and transferred to the bottle tree for use in the bottler.
The keg is hooked up to the bottler via an input and output tube. The input tube is CO2, and the output tube is, well, beer. It flows to a three bottling system. The system works by pumping nitrogen into the bottles first and then pumping the beer into the bottles. The nitrogen apparently keeps the beer from foaming up. This is a slow process. Calling it slow is actually being nice. It is really slow. Most of the time only one or two bottles actually fill. It is certainly not very automated. A funny quote from my mother while watching this all occur was, "They need to automate this more, with some new automated machines or something, this is just too slow". Well, this isn't a Budweiser plant. This is home-made craft beer. It isn't supposed to be very automated. Half the fun is being able to hang out while the slow process occurs and drink some of your new beer, chat to other people bottling and brewing, compare beers, etc.
After the bottles actually fill with beer, they are removed from the bottler and set aside. New empty bottles are put into the bottler for filling. The full bottles are then finished by manually pressing on a cap, and an optional label is added. As the Patriots were still vying for a Super Bowl win at the time we bottled, my beer was aptly named 'Albion Street Brewery Bruschi's Brewski Amber Ale'. Alas, the name did not help the Patriots the following week.
The beer is pretty tasty. I have no idea if it actually tastes like a Fat Tire Amber Ale. It certainly tastes like it is missing hops, probably from our mini brewing mishap. My father and mother both think it is awful. Too bad for them, good for me, as they are giving me all the beer they took home. I think calling it awful is overreacting. The last beer we brewed there, 24 Hour IPA, was much better (that was probably the best beer I have ever consumed my whole life). Overall pretty enjoyable beverage however, and the bottling and brewing was really fun as always. We yielded close to 6 cases of beer, meaning 2 cases are taken home each. I'm almost through my first case...