Last night I received the delivery from Sakeland which included the no-rinse sanitiser and the bottling attachment. Yeahh! All I needed now was the hydrometer to read 1006 and I was ready to bottle!

I was impressed by how quickly Sakeland got the kit to me. Less impressed by the kit itself though. The no-rinse sanitiser had no instructions on how much to use in a litre of water (I had to rely on Lost in Fermentation‘s instructions – look for the no-rinse sanitiser post) and bag weight was inconsistent (one bag weighed 180g), and the bottling attachment let beer drip through when “closed” rather than stop it completely. But hey, at least they were here and I could bottle – beer permitting!

Reading a Hydrometer

Reading a Hydrometer

Reading the hydrometer was rather confusing. Advice on the internet says you should read where the liquid intersects the hydrometer – in the diagram to the right that’s at 982. The instructions for my hydrometer say to read at the top of the liquid – 980, from the diagram right.

Using internet readings, I got 1007. Using my hydrometer’s instructions I got 1006. Not a big difference but I didn’t want to bottle too early and risk explosion.

In the end I decided to calibrate the reading by taking a known quantity – water. Plain water should read 1000. Using internet readings I got 1001. Using my hydrometer’s instructions I got 1000. That coupled with the fact that the lid had stopped expanding meant that I could be pretty sure the beer was at 1006 and ready.

Bottling itself was much more hassle than I expected. It didn’t help that being a virgin, I hadn’t arranged the space very well. At one end of my livingroom there was the beer bucket, a basin of sanitizing bottles, a basin of sanitized bottles, a bag of sugar, the drip tray under the tap, bottles with sugar waiting to be filled, bottles filled and waiting to be capped, bottles capped – all nestled into the space between the sofa, the coffee table, the tv cabinet, and the cabinet the bucket was on.

It also didn’t help that the bottle filler dripped! Two hours, several cramps in the leg, a minor incident which will teach me to cap bottles as soon as I fill them later, and two bottles chipped from capping, and we have 51 bottles of fresh homebrew. Beer one was born.

Beer one

Beer one

Wasting no time, I set upon starting the second fermentation. Beer two is Black Rock Whispering Wheat with 1kg of Munton’s Wheat Spraymalt. Compared to bottling, mixing the brew from these kits is a doddle – the only hiccup this time was that the spraymalt went lumpy when mixed with the Whispering Wheat syrup. I had followed the kit recipe by mixing the syrup and wheat with 2 litres of hot water – but it took 3 1/2 litres and a lot of stirring before I got all the lumps out.

Beer two is a progression from Beer one. Beer one one was an exact kit recipe – lager syrup and sugar. Beer two substitutes malt for the sugar – that combined with a better (I hope) strain of beer (wheat rather than lager) and I hope Beer two will be a big improvement on Beer one.

That’s not to say Beer one is bad. While bottling I left the sample I’d used for the hydrometer in a glass in the fridge. After the year settled to the bottom, it didn’t taste that bad. Flat, of course, and more ale like (bitter) than a lager, but hopefully after a week or so in the bottles the taste will improve.

I’m already planning Beer three. I want a continued progression. I have two more kits to use – one is Black Rock IPA, the other is Brewferm Kriek. I’ve heard that both of these need some flavour enhancing to really taste like an IPA or Cherry Kriek, so I plan to add something to the kits to add flavour. That is my subject of research over the next week.