It's time to catch up from the early neglect of this "new" blog, now that my life allows it. Even though I have not been able to blog the progress (until now) things are chugging along okay - the Chocolate Porter is bottled and cellared, and the IPA is in the last few days of primary fermentation. My brew days are taking longer than I would like them to, and I'm not working on the dates I want to, but such is the way of life with a family and small children.
The first recipe is near completion - sort of like a ship making landfall. You can see the destination, but you are not there. The right combination of wind and tide is still needed to reach port. Even if a coast is well-charted, there is always the risk of running up on the shoals, whether by human error or force of nature.
I bottled the porter last night, but the process actually started this past Saturday, when I added the final dose of chocolate to the beer. Resisting the urge to roast the cocoa beans, I ground them fresh. It was originally recommended that I soak them in vodka for 15 min or so to sterilize them. That was an issue, as I was out of vodka. I used a substitute.
In all, I added about 6 oz of bourbon to the beans. Why? It seemed right. About 60 hours later, I bottled the beer. As I'm doing this (or at least part of it) as a gift for my father, I got some growlers that I can put some customized labels on. They'll feature a goofy picture of him or something like that. The rest of the bottles I needed I made up from what I had in storage in my garage - some 16 oz swing-top bottles and a case of 12 oz bottles. I had dug the bottles out from the garage the night before, and there's an interesting story in there as well, that I'll tell some other day.
Before I primed, I took final gravity. It measured 1.015. That's kind of high - I just barely got 70% attenuation. Ideally I would want to hit 1.013/1.012, to get me at about 5% ABV. As it stands, it is 4.8% ABV. A bit on the low side (technically below the threshhold) for a robust porter, though a 1.015 FG is "within spec" for one. Maybe something to be tweaked the next time I brew it, but I'll wait and taste the finished product first. To keep carbonation on the low side, I then primed the 5 gallons of "new beer" with 3.6 oz of light DME, using the priming guidelines from Randy Mosher's The Brewer's Companion.
I. Hate. Bottling. It takes a long time, it always seems awkward to me moving between filling, topping off, capping, back to filling, etc. Still, if I wish to enjoy the beer I need to do it right, so I was as meticulous and clean as I could be. One of my next steps is to start kegging. When all was said and done, I had three 1/2 gallon growlers, 24 12-oz bottles, and six swing-tops.
First test is in a couple of weeks; then I'll know if I made it safely into port or took a wrong turn and ended up on the rocks. It still tastes okay, but I've never had an easy time predicting final taste by tasting what I have at bottling.