Home Brewing Pt. 2

Last week, my first home brew, the White House Honey Ale, came out of its three-week primary fermentation. Now, normally most home brew kits and recipes suggest a two-week primary fermentation and then a two-week secondary fermentation in another fermenter bucket. Doing some research revealed an increasingly accepted longer single-primary fermentation approach. Basically, fermenting for 3-4 weeks then going straight to bottling where the final conditioning will take place in the bottle. Apparently it leads to a clearer beer and reduces the risks of introducing oxygen into the fermentation and other contaminants that might ruin the beer. Well, being no expert, I turned to the DC Homebrewers association and indeed got the recommendation for a primary fermentation and went with it.

After painstakingly washing and sanitizing about a case’s worth of bottles, we transferred the ale to a bottling bucket. The aroma of honey and beer filled my apartment. Sampling the beer revealed a flat but sweet brew, delicious actually, but in need of carbonation. We then primed the ale with dissolved and purified brewer’s sugar and went to work bottling. The whole process took about an hour. I stored the beer in the second bathroom and around next weekend will open a bottle for the first tasting. If there isn’t enough carbonation, I will let it go another week or so before refrigeration which should be just fine because it will probably all be consumed over the holidays anyway. I’m nervous, but everything looks good so far…

White House Honey Ale Primary Fermentation







Home Brewing Pt. 1

I’ve been itching to try homebrewing beer for quite a while. I took a class at Brooklyn Kitchen a couple years ago, bought the kit but never followed-up. Recently, I was inspired by the release of the recipe for the White House Honey Brown Ale under a Freedom of Information Act. So I grabbed my brother and we messed up his kitchen in Bloomingdale last weekend.

Of course it is tradition to sample brews AS you brew. Fat Tire’s Snow Day and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon kept us properly marinated while we steeped the grains, boiled the wort, and added the first and second batch of hops. We then moved the wort to the fermenter, put the lid on and attached the airlock. And now we wait. The recipe suggests that we rack the beer for the second fermentation after 5 days, but while doing some reading on the homebrew forums I came across the notion of a “long primary.” Seems today’s homebrewers now agree that a single longer primary fermentation will yield a more clear beer with less risk of oxidation in the transfer to a second fermenter. After checking in with the guys at DC Homebrewers, I took their advice and am going to let it sit for 2 weeks before bottling and conditioning for 2 more. So I won’t have the beer in time for Thanksgiving, but definitely should have it to give as Stocking Stuffers!