All Things Beer

The Copper Ale Brew

The day had come to brew my third beer. I decided the copper ale would be a great addition to my black dog ale and Irish red (if it would ever carbonate). After unpacking the ingredients which included a liquid and powder malt extract, a first for me, and I got down to business.

I flipped on NASCAR to keep me company as a typical 4-hour race seemed to be the average time it takes me to brew from boiling to the fermentor.

Although still leery about the legendary boil over I decided to boil 3.5 gallons (13.24 liter) in my 5 gallons (18L) brew kettle. I know what you’re thinking “rebel”. I added an entire ½ gallon (1.89L) more than I did last time. But the theory is the more you boil and less water you add to top off the wort the clearer your beer will be. I was willing to give it a try as my beer was not the clearest. It did not resemble mud, but it had a slight haze to it.

Copper Ale Homebrew Review
whoa… look at me push the limits

After boiling up the water and adding the grains, I took the pot off the burner and added in the liquid and powder malts. The powder malt made quite the spectacle as it created a frothy foam on top that I was hoping was normal!

Copper Ale Homebrew Review
adding the power malt
Copper Ale Homebrew Review
I’m crossing my fingers that’s what it’s supposed to look like!

After completing the brewing process I placed the brew kettle into a cool bath of water and let the temperature come down so it would not kill the yeast when I put them into the wort.

I had spoken to a fellow brewing friend of mine at work about the lack of carbonation in my Irish Red ale. He said that the aerating of the wort, or the lack there of, may have contributed to my carbonation issue.  When he asked me what I did to aerate I simply answered: “I took a large spoon and swished the wort around as the instructions stated”. He gave me a look of concern, or more like a look of ‘there’s your problem’. He offered to lend me his fancy aerator that injects CO2 into the wort before adding the yeast. It sounded like a lot of work and I imagined with my luck that I would end up with wort splattered all of my kitchen.

passing the wort back and forth between two buckets
passing the wort back and forth between two buckets

I decided to take the simple route this go around by transferring the wort back and forth between two sanitized buckets. I passed the wort back and forth about 4 times and each time the wort became more frothy on top. After I had thoroughly aerated the wort I sprinkled the yeast on top.

I sealed the bucket shut and placed it in the fermenting room (aka the laundry room). Before sealing the lid shut I also added the yeast to warm water prior to help wake the little guys up. I had read about this on a few sites and figured I would give it a try.

The yeast taking a warm bath before I put them in the wort
The yeast taking a warm bath before I put them in the wort

The next day while folding laundry I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from the airlock on the fermenter “gurgle, gurgle, gurgle” I pried back the shower curtain (as the beer sits in a bathtub when it’s fermenting – you can never be too careful) to reveal a rather busy airlock. I watched for a few minutes with a smile on my face knowing that this was the activity that should have been in the airlock all along. With my two previous beers, I never heard a peep out of them. It was probably luck that the Black Dog Ale turned out.

In an attempt to save the Irish Red from becoming beer cheese soup I spoke with my brewing friend again for one last-ditch effort to save the beer. He suggested that I warm the bottles, rolling them back and forth between my hands to help kick-start the second helping of yeast I had added.

He had used this process once when he had a flat beer and said after a few days of warming the beer it finally carbonated. I lugged my beer storage boxes out into the living room and watched a little of The Voice (it was a Monday, so no NASCAR.  It just dawned on me that this beer brewing hobby makes me watch a lot of TV). I warmed and rolled each bottle hoping that it would have a positive outcome.

I would let the Irish Red sit for one more week before trying it again. Hopefully, it will be ready about the same time that the Copper Ale needs to be bottled. If the red is not ready, perhaps I will accept the loss and throw a beer cheese soup party.  I would have plenty to share as I had 47 bottles of beer to dispose of!

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