This has been conditioning for 5 weeks now so I thought I’d try another one in order to see if the last of the twang has disappeared. I’ve drunk a total of 6 bottles so far and they do keep getting better, but there’s a running theme of slight under-carbonation common to both those bottles marked with 2F and those marked with 1C – 2 Fox’s drops and 1 Coopers respectively. By no means flat, it’s probably within tolerance for this type of ale, but I’d place it at the lower end of acceptable. Maybe I’m drinking it slightly cool at 9.9 ℃.
Colour is very nice right now, and clarity on par with anything I’d expect to get in a pub. There’s a lot of autumnal flavour on the palate with an acceptable amount of malt and lingering traces of honey. I don’t remember if this is what Wherry tasted like on draught as it’s been a very long time, but I’m very happy with this as a session-opener.
Ideas for Next Time
Maybe a little more carbonation?
Get better at reading the hydrometer. There is a 2 point difference between the good and bad readings taken 12 days in, and that can make a difference when it comes to flavour.
Temperature was quite high at the start, ambient and ultimately that of the wort. Tighter control of actual fermentation temperature might help in future.
Just cracked open a Wherry that was bottled with 2 Fox’s carbonation drops, and although there was a slight schnick as the cap came off I didn’t find it too fizzy at all, pretty much perfect for an ale in fact. It hasn’t cleared fully yet and there’s a very slight twang about it, but it poured cleanly leaving minimal sediment and the overall flavour is pretty damn good.
When I took delivery of my first batch of 500 ml crown cap bottles I immediately started playing around and noticed that quite a lot of them allowed the caps to be spun under force, no matter how hard I leant on the capping tool. They didn’t twist too easily, and in most cases I’d have to use a tea towel to stop my hand from getting chewed up, but eventually most of them did spin and I began to worry that I might end up losing carbonation once I started using them in earnest. To that end I bottled Razorback in a variety of vessels; the purchased crown-caps, some recycled 500 ml bottles capped using the same tool (most of which didn’t spin) and a couple of clear 500 ml flip-tops for good measure.
I’ve since opened some of the brews that were bottled with those crown caps and purchased glass bottles, am pleased to report that I’ve had no flat beers at all, and those that I’ve tried to spin several weeks after bottling have been solid as a rock. So the demons are put to bed?
Almost. When I bottled Honey Porter and Wherry 36 hours ago I left them in the brewery with the heating cranked up at approximately 26 ℃ since the instructions just called for “somewhere warm” for two days. The cider which was also in there was moved out at the same time, so the only things in there are the Porter and Wherry. And it smells very strongly of CO2 just like it did when I added yeast to the latest batch of cider. Question is, can I attribute the smell to leaking crown caps on Wherry and / or Honey Porter, or am I just smelling the remnants of my biggest bottling session to date? For what it’s worth I’ve tried twisting some of the bottle caps from those two recently bottled batches and they all seem tight, despite most of them being slightly loose still just after bottling.
Making this entry in case I come to find some flat bottles amongst these two batches weeks down the road.
Bit of a bottling frenzy tonight with both Wherry and Honey Porter decanted into purchased 500ml crown caps. The first few from this batch to hit the bottles produced quite a bit of head as a result of the bottling wand, which left some unwanted space in the top of the bottles. Once the heads had settled I filled this using a funnel and a jug, but I wonder if in doing so I’ve also introduced a bit of oxygen. On a few bottles I went nearly to the top, which may have been a bit much in hindsight. Hope they don’t go pop.
This brew of Wherry resulted in a total of 39 bottles; 17 with 2x Fox’s Carbonation Drops (totalled at 500ml) and 22 bottles with 1x Coopers Carbonation Drop, aimed at 375ml because I ran out of Fox’s. I was going to follow instructions and use half a teaspoon of sugar, but that seemed to be roughly equal in mass to one Coopers drop, so in the interest of laziness I used those.
Bottles are being stored at around 23 ℃ for two days until they go into the garage for conditioning on 17 December, should be ready to sample on New Year’s Eve. ABV is around 4.2% against advertised 4.5% so not too far out.
Just measured the SG on this since I’m about to bottle the Honey Porter, and I think we’re ready to go with 1.012. Quite a lot of bubbles in the sample tube and on the hydrometer, occasional popping on the airlock as well. Let’s hope that’s not going to be a problem for the bottles. Flavour is great, this might be one to reorder ASAP!
This looks like it’s going to be ready ahead of the Porter! SG checked in at 1.015 just now (3.81% against target of 4.5%) but it took a couple of spins and some blowing to dislodge the bubbles, otherwise Wherry would also be sitting at 1.017. Wonder if surface tension when measuring near the top of the trial tube has anything to do with it?
Regardless, I can’t bottle this until SG is steady at or below 1.014, so I’ll revisit in a couple of days.
Both the Honey Porter and Wherry have been bubbling nicely two days into primary, and I’ve been gradually trying to reduce the temperature since they want to be kept between 18 and 20 ℃, finding that the FVs tend to hit 18.5 when the room temperature is 17 to 18. Bubbling has slowed a little over the past few days, but there’s still enough going on with both that I needn’t worry about bottling the Porter yet tomorrow. Will take a SG reading instead and revisit in another two days.
It’s been 12 hours since Wherry and Honey Porter were committed to FV, and they’re both bubbling away slowly, maybe once every 5 minutes. Both were slightly faster within an hour of the yeast being sprinkled onto the brews 40 minutes after adding the cold water, around 24.8 ℃, and that seems to have slowed up since then. Right now both buckets are still at 22.5 ℃ despite the office being 20 ℃ – not dropping quick enough. I hope the yeast hasn’t been damaged as a result, though if it were that sensitive to temperature that would surely have been mentioned in the instructions?