My wonderful wife had secretly purchased some bottles, caps and a capper to give ot me at Christmas. But the Blue Boar was ready to bottle so out they came to be put in to use. The gravity of the beer had fallen to 1009, which was exactly what I would have expected given the sugar/spraymalt combination and my careful reading of the instructions.
I sterilised carefully and used a new barrel with tap and bottling attachment. I only had 24 bottles so recycled some and used some of my left over PET ones. I also bought some new PET ones yesterday for the perry, which needs bottling.
So, the instructions say that Christmas Ale should site in a cold place a for a couple of weeks and be a SG of 1020 when you bottle. I am pretty pleased that I got it spot on, though I have been very careful about following the instructions to the letter.
Bottling was OK. I did do it a little early though because I needed another demijohn for cider/quince wine. I was very careful to wash and rinse each bottle and lid, then allowed the beer to dribble down the side of the bottle to stop too much oxygen getting in. (That has got to be better than letting it waterfall in.) My tube has a little tap at the end, so it was easy to move the tube between bottles. The main issue was trying to avoid picking up the must at the bottom – I didn’t want too much yeast to make the trip. Since I just use a bare tube I had to be very careful and keep an eye on where it was. In the end, to get the last bottle to a reasonable height, I gently tipped the demijohn. My bottles are PET ones with screw tops. They should cope with massive pressure should the fizzing up work, but the screw tops have anti-tamper rings and were a right pain to get on straight. I didn’t find a way that worked every time and had to keep checking.
So, the beer looks right, tastes right and has the right SG. I am optimistic that there will be some nice Christmas Ale in a few weeks. The instructions say leave it in a warm place for a week to get the fizz going, then off to the cellar it goes. (No sugar needs to be added for this Christmas beer – I am a bit nervous about that but them’s the instructions.)
I am very new to this lark (although did have some fun with the brewzer from the now defunct miracle-beer.com a few years ago). I thought I would try a Christmas Ale to start with – it would have a few weeks to condition before the holidays. It was pretty straight forward to get up and running, though I did find patience an issue when waiting for the mixture to cool down and I also dropped the unsterilised (other than the bulb) thermometer in to the mix.
The instructions say wait 10 days or until the fermentation has ceased and the specific gravity (SG) is 1020. My wife and I eyeballed the hydrometer together and decided it was spot on after six days.
The instructions say that all beers work best when left to clarify so I “racked them off” (see how I use jargon now) in to a couple of demijohns I had clean and waiting.
Now they sit in the garage for a couple of weeks before being bottled and I have to hope that the yeast is alive enough after that to give a nice fiz when they are opened. At over 6% proof and only having 1 litre bottles to put it in, it could be a very Happy Christmas.