Day 1: The bucket was empty just long enough to be cleaned before I’d started the third brew. This time an IPA, for which I paid less than a tenner. So, with 80p on sugar and £1 on bottles (if the Sainsbury’s ones hold out), it’s looking like a very reasonable 31p per pint, or ppp. Apparently I drink an Irish IPA called Smithwicks at £2.60 a pint, so I’m looking forward to saving some money. I didn’t know Smithwicks was an IPA, but I’m reliably informed by a fellow Pure Bongo-er (our pub quiz team) that it is.
This was the quickest turnaround yet, from clean kitchen to the spare room smelling like a pub carpet. As usual, in went the tin, a kilo of sugar, and 36 pints of pure Donegal tap water. I’m concerned that one day the water will come out brown halfway through making the beer, as it is occasionally want to do here, but so far I’m in the clear, so to speak. The starting gravity was 1.044, and I’m supposed to bottle it at 1.006, which will leave a very tasty 5% brew. I’ve noticed that when the brews ferment they give off a bad smell, a bit like bad apple juice. Still inexperienced, I’m hoping it’s just ‘one of those things’, as the Pilsner suffered the same and tasted alright, but this time the IPA really stinks. If it turns out fine I’m going to embrace the smell in future. For now, it’s time to collect 5 gallons worth of bottles.
Day 5: The IPA has been fermenting for 5 days now, and is still way above the recommended final gravity stage, and it doesn’t look much like it’ll get there. I’m beginning to suspect two things. Firstly, what they say about constant temperatures is right, and secondly, that a bag of McKinney’s sugar is no substitute for brewing sugar. The Tom Caxton Real Ale (which is looking grand in the bottles) was brewed using dry spray malt, and the IPA with ordinary sugar. Maybe that affects the final gravity?
Day 9: IPA bottled. At around 4.6% it’s not as strong as I’d imagined (the instructions suggest final gravity 1006, but mine stopped at 1010 after 7 days), but it’ll taste cracking, if the first glass out of the bucket is anything to go by! I’d bottled it in a rush before heading to the ‘day job’, and left a half filled pint glass of the IPA on the side, so I had a wee taste of it once I’d got back. It had cleared a little, so tasted much like it will in the end. Flat for now, obviously, but I don’t think I’d enjoy too lively an ale anyway. I’ll know for sure in two weeks! As for the Pilsner, or what’s left of it, they’re like live grenades sitting in the cupboard. One false move and they’re set to explode!
As for the Pilsner, I’m still no closer to organising a home brew party, and there’s now only 6 bottles left. St Patrick’s day tomorrow, so maybe then.
Thing of note: Plenty of those large tin cans kicking around now. For ideas on what to do with the empties, look here: www.instructables.com. You’re bound to find something.