The English Pale Ale is now bottled and safely tucked away in a corner of my kitchen awaiting the Resurrection.
Lent is a great time for bottling beer if for no other reason than the continual reminder it provides us of the steady growth in virtue that we should be attempting throughout these penitential days leading to Easter. I won’t press the analogy too hard, but there is plenty of spiritual symbolism for anyone who wishes to see the invisible things of God through the visible things of this world. No wonder monks are famous for brewing.
There is a certain amount of washing and sanitizing of old bottles that the liberally educated home-brewer needs to be willing to do. Again, this is another obvious source for Lenten meditation.
First collect about a pile of about 50 bottles, preferably amber in color.
Then plunge them into a sink full of hot water. A bottle scrubbing-brush helps, but repeated rinsing with hot water is effective. After three rinses I finish the cleansing process by using two table-spoons of my One-Step No-Rinse cleansing agent, which is some kind of magical oxygen-based cleanser. I don’t know how it works but it is a powerful substance, and I trust it completely. One cannot be too fastidious when it comes to the cleaning and sterilization of the bottles and other brewing equipment.
The next step is to transfer the fermented beer (formerly wort) into a new glass Carboy. But since I am going to bottle the beer now, I will dissolve a packet of priming sugar into two cups of water and boil that for five minutes.
Apparently, through the wonders of chemistry, this priming sugar will, when added to the beer, act as a carbonation agent. The sugar introduced into each bottle will provide the yeast some new food for another fermentation. But this time the carbon dioxide will not be able to escape the bottles and, voila! the beer will be carbonated!
I meant to employ a two stage fermentation program by simply transferring the brew into another five gallon Carboy before the fermentation had stopped. But alas, the days passed quickly and the fermentation appeared to come to an almost complete stop. I suppose I could have restarted the fermentation with the addition of some sugar or perhaps even by the mere transferral of the wort from one container to another- but no matter, I have enjoyed my brewing experiments to date without following the double fermentation process. There is always next time.
We boil the priming sugar.
and add it to the empty Carboy.
The fermented wort, now un-carbonated beer is transferred from one Carboy to another by siphoning- so simple even a child can do it! Adding the sugar first allows for the beer to mix fully.
We have to be careful not to siphon the yeast by-products and sediment at the bottom.
In the mean time, I also think it is a good idea to sterilize all of the bottle caps.
Now with the help of a bottling wand, the beer is transferred to each individual bottle and immediately capped.
Soon the process is finished and the bottles should be transferred to a dark place to complete the carbonation process.
On Easter Sunday our now rather flat beer will have been transformed into a rich, refreshing, effervescent beverage. Fifty bottles to celebrate each day leading to Pentecost!