Began by heating 2.5 gal of Ozarka Spring Water (discovered in the cupboard) to c. 150°. Turned heat off. Steeped grains:
1/4 lb Crystal 60L
1/4 lb Honey Malt
Steeped 15 minutes, then removed grain bag and returned to boil. Once boiling, removed heat and added:
5 lb Pale malt extract
1/3lb Golden Syrup
3-4 tbsp pure honey. The honey was well crystallized from age - heated it in hot water to get it out of the bottle. I doubt this small amount will make any difference but hey.
Returned to boil. Added bittering hops once boiling:
3/4 oz Fuggle (5.7% AA)
Boiled 45 min. Added flavor hops:
1/4 oz East Kent Golding (5.5% AA)
1/4 oz Fuggle
Boiled another 12 min. Added aroma hops:
1/4 oz East Kent Golding
Boiled 5 min. Removed from boil and set pot in sink full of ice water. Ran short of ice - cooled to 80° F in 20-25 minutes, not exactly the quick cold break I was hoping for. Stirred well during the last few minutes of cooling. Poured wort into fermenter through large wire screen (having learned from the tea-towel episode last time). Splashed well in fermenter. Added cold filtered tap water to bring to a bit over 5 gallons (5.125).
Specific gravity at 79° F was 1.048, adjusted to 1.051. Considered diluting more but decided to wait and see what happens.
Pitched yeast at 79° F:
White Labs English Ale
Yeast had been out for several hours, warmed to room temperature. Stirred very well. I have little doubt about the aeration this time, which was probably inadequate last time. The wort was stirred well while cooling, splashed in the fermenter, water dilution also splashed, and then a final vigorous stirring.
Covered fermenter around 4pm. Noticed right away that there was a layer of something on the bottom of the fermenter, looked like a yeast cake. Must be sediment. No signs of fermentation as of 1am on the 10th, but by 9am the airlock was bubbling steadily. Heavy bubbling all day, slowed somewhat by next morning but still perking steadily. (question: fermenting quickly at first as the yeast eat the cane syrup, then more slowly as they run out of syrup and start on malt?) Odd layer at bottom disappeared.
(Note: in last batch, I believe the yeast were shocked at being pitched into wort that was too hot, and never really recovered.)
Fermenting slowed to a bubble every 30 seconds or so by the morning of the 13th. Racked into secondary fermenter. Specific gravity dropped to 1.009 at a beer temperature of 71° (initial alcohol content 5.24%). Kept some of the yeast in the empty tube, filled rest of the way with beer and stored in the refrigerator - if they survive, I'll use them next time. Thick yeast cake (nearly an inch) at bottom of primary fermenter.
Some yeast activity in secondary fermenter. A layer of yeast floated about an inch below the surface of the liquid. Eventually this mostly disappeared.
Bottled on 3/19. Specific gravity unchanged at 1.009-1.010. Beer tasted very sweet and slightly fizzy. Filled bottles much more uniformly this time, about one inch from the top. Bottles rinsed 2x in dishwasher without soap (had been washed already with soap before storing). Broke two bottles while capping - either I'm strong-arming the caps or they were already damaged.
Opened a bottle on the 25th. Not bad at all. Opened a few more bottles between then and the 31st. The beer is more carbonated this time, but there is a variance between bottles in the taste and carbonation level. One or two bottles tasted slightly bitter. The last bottle was excellent, just barely undercarbonated, excellent flavor. Not too sweet, nice body, altogether pleasing.
I believe there is a problem with capping, and also I need to construct a better bottle-filler to avoid splashing.
After three weeks in the bottle, I served it at the <a href = "../wedding">wedding</a> and got quite a few compliments.