Hops bags went in two days ago, let’s send this doggy home. There was still some very slight airlock activity and in fairness the FG had dropped a point (maybe two) in two days, but I was also starting to get traces of that sweet & sour taste that somewhat spoilt the last batch so I’m willing to risk having gushers if they’re drinkable. Fingers crossed there’s no bottle bombs though!
As with the batch of Nog I bottled recently I went for batch priming here, racking to a clean vessel after adding 95g of brewing sugar / dextrose, this time dissolved in some boiled water instead of powder in a wet (sanitised) cup. Much easier to deploy. As before my figures came from the Brewer’s Friend Priming Calculator, going for 2.0 vols across 21 litres at 20 ℃. To be honest I think 2.0 vols would be on the low side for a DIPA but at the back of my mind I’m wondering how much more fermentation this beast has in her (the first batch went to 1.009 – 4 points lower – but picked up some nasty flavours) so I want to give her some room for error in case I really do create a caseload of bombs. Mind you, German Wheat Beer tops out at 4.5 vols according to the calculator, so I’m hoping the crown-capped bottles can take that kind of pressure, even if the contents turn into a fountain.
Regardless, 59 Steinies (19.47 litres then – oops!) were bottled and sealed with yellow caps, off to the server room for a couple of days. The instructions actually specify a week in the warm for secondary fermentation (Eh? Thought we were just carbing?) but I don’t want to give those off-flavours any more chance to develop so I’d rather cut that short and give it longer in cold conditioning, maybe even the same 56 days that are demanded by the similar strength Wheat Tripel.
17 days after starting primary and Nog is finally ready to drop anchor. Gravity looked to be steady at 1.014 as it was two days ago, so I decided to call time and get her put away.
Only after I’d washed the bottles (first time using Chem San rinse instead of Milton) did I notice that I was out of carbonation drops, so I thought I’d have a go at batch priming – why not make it two firsts in one night. The Brewer’s Friend calculator recommended 91.1g of table sugar for 20 litres of beer at 20℃ in order to achieve 2.0 vols, which is the base of what’s recommended for Porter and Stout and the upper end for British Ale.
I had about 20 litres and no table sugar, so I used 100g of brewing sugar (Dextrose?) instead since it dissolves quickly. Measured it out into a mug which was flushed with boiled water, then added it to a clean FV followed by Nog from the original FV, using the bottling wand and avoiding aeration whenever possible. A slight stir was necessary once half of the beer was transferred across since I didn’t want to risk uneven carbonation, but I think I did OK.
36 x 500 ml brown bottles were filled from the secondary bucket without issue, capped with black crowns, batches of 8 at a time. I had a good little production line going (getting slick now) and couldn’t help but try a few of the caps to see if they’d spin. Nearly all of them did, some more easily than others. That’s always been the case, but at the back of my mind I’m wondering if they were a bit easier this time around than before. What was different? Well, I was only capping the bottles with one movement, whereas before I’d spin them 90 degrees after the first ‘crimp’ and then give them another squeeze. I also soaked the caps in Chem San (ChemSan? Chem-San?) for the first time instead of Milton, and this no-rinse sanitiser does have a certain sappy quality when wet. Apparently that’s normal, as is the foam. Just ignore it and keep filling.
Once the beer was bottled and everything washed up we had dinner and watched a film, then maybe 3 hours later I went back to print labels and put them away for warm conditioning. At the back of my mind I was thinking about those spinning caps, so I took a permanent marker with me and resolved to identify any spinning caps with an LC so that I could see if there were any effects on carbonation at serving time. Trying each bottle in turn as I applied the label I found only 4 or 5 which would spin bare-handed, whereas before it was most of the batch. That’s tremendously positive, since I can attribute it to the caps being wet at bottling time, possibly aided by a slippery sanitising solution. The relevant labels were marked, and I’ll give them another spin before popping the caps when it’s time to serve. Have a gut feeling that they’ll all be rock-solid, and any perceived loss in carbonation will be shared between those marked LC and those not marked at all.