I Don’t Know Ale… Part 2 (Racking & Dry Hopping)

Fast forward about 10-12 days after the bulk of the fermenting is done.  It is time to get the trub (gross stuff at the bottom of the primary fermenter) off the beer so it does not impart off flavors to our beer.  This step is called racking.

Here are the steps of racking beer into the secondary fermentor, with pictures to follow:

  1. Wash and sanitize a 5 gallon and 3 gallon carboy.  Remember we made 8 gallons.
  2. Using an auto-siphon start filling your carboys.  We like to start with the 5 then move to the 3.
  3. Once both are full, re-airlock, and condition in the secondary fermentor until it starts to clarify.  Usually a week or two depending on the sytle of beer brewed.  For this specific style it will take about a week, then we will dry hop it.  Will explain that next.
I Don't Know Ale in primary fermenter.  Ready to be racked over to secondary.

I Don’t Know Ale in primary fermenter. Ready to be racked over to secondary.

Sanitized carboy's ready for action.

Sanitized carboy’s ready for action.

Filling the 5 gallon carboy, then we repeat for the 3 gallon.

Filling the 5 gallon carboy, then we repeat for the 3 gallon.

All set, to condition in secondary fermenter.  Don't the look so good?

All set, to condition in secondary fermenter. Don’t they look so pretty?

*****DRY HOPPING******

This is actually the first beer we have dry hopped.  Dry hopping means adding hops after the brew process in the secondary fermenter.  About 9 days  after we racked this beer to the secondary it had clarified nicely.  Thus is was time for the hops.  We added 1 oz of citra hops, so .625OZ to 5 gallon and .375OZ to 3 gallon.  The hops were measured out in sanitized nylon paint bags and dropped into carboys.  The hops are to sit for exactly 1 week then we bottle.  So we made sure we did it on a weekend because bottling takes a bit of time.  I am hoping to be able to keg soon!  Pictures below of beer…

Hops going in.

Hops going in.

Hops in, 7 days later it will be bottling time.

Hops in, 7 days later it will be bottling time.

Note: I just wanted to show a side by side of what the beer looked like the day we racked into the secondary to the day we added the hops, you can see what I mean by clarification.  A lot more of the yeast that was in suspension settled out.

Side by side, notice the clarification?

Side by side, notice the clarification?

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions… Next up bottling!  Enjoy ~ Megan

White House Honey Ale: Racking Day (aka Cusick House Honey Ale)

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler.  Here is hoping it clears out some!

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler. Here’s hoping it clears out some!

A couple of things:

First we have renamed this beer to “Cusick House Honey Ale” figuring it is only fitting since we did not use White House Honey but Cusick House Honey in this brew!

Second, this past weekend we took the next step in our first homebrew experiment, racking.  In the picture to the left we are siphoning our brew from our primary 6.5 gallon glass fermenter to the secondary 5 gallon glass fermenter.    The idea behind racking beer per John Palmer and How to Brew:

“Racking is the term for the process of transferring the beer without disturbing the sediments or exposing it to air. Usually this is done by siphoning. It is imperative to not aerate the wort during transfer after primary fermentation. Any oxygen in the beer at this time will cause staling reactions that will become evident in the flavor of the beer within a couple weeks.”

Why we rack:

” The yeast also produce an array of fusel alcohols during primary fermentation in addition to ethanol. Fusels are higher molecular weight alcohols that often give harsh solvent-like tastes to beer. During secondary fermentation, the yeast convert these alcohols to more pleasant tasting fruity esters. Warmer temperatures encourage ester production.  Towards the end of secondary fermentation, the suspended yeast flocculates (settles out) and the beer clears.” 

It is times like this I am glad Huz is a chemistry teacher who also has the patience to siphon beer as it takes a bit of time.  This has been one large fun experiment.  He is the brains and I am the cleaner…sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.   The next step is bottling, which I think will be done in 2 weeks from the racking day.  To save a bit of money we have been saving our beer bottles, de-labeling them, cleaning them, and sterilizing them by dry heat in the oven.  More to come on that step later this week.

Thoughts, comments, observations… please share!