MoreBeer Review: Part 2 (or Bottling and Tasting)
It’s been just over a month since I started my home brewing adventure with MoreBeer.com’s “Super Deluxe Bottling Kit #4″ – so it’s time to check in and finish this journey. During that month I watched as my brew transformed from wort into a full fledged beer, and it was a magical thing to watch. In this half of the review, I’ll take you through the bottling process, and then finally talk about the finished product. Coupled with the first half of the review, you should have all the information you need about this kit, how it works, and how the finished product is.
I’ve heard people ask many times “How do I know when my beer is ready to bottle?”, and the answer is both simple and complex at the same time. The simple answer is as soon as the specific gravity reaches what’s listed in the ingredient kit you’re using. If you don’t have the paper that tells you what the final gravity should be though, you have to take multiple readings – take one, then another three days later. If the reading doesn’t change, you’re good to go; if it has changed, then you need to keep checking every three days until it stops changing. Alternatively, you can just leave it in your fermenter (or carboy in this kit) for an extended period (i.e. my beer was ready in two weeks, but I let it go for three before bottling).
Letting the beer sit longer in the fermentation vessel will help with the clarity, so it’s preferential to wait as long as you can. When it’s ready though, you need to transfer the beer into a bottling bucket whiling leaving as much of the sediment (called the trub) in the bottom of the fermentation vessel as possible. The trub is the byproduct from the wort turning into beer, and isn’t supposed to be in the final product – looking at the pictures I’m sure you can see why. In order to achieve this transfer, the kit from MoreBeer.com includes an extremely useful siphon.
How the siphon in this kit works is somewhat like the nipple on a baby’s bottle, only a bit more complex. The siphon fits tightly over the mouth of the carboy, while a long stainless steel shaft can be pushed down to the bottom of the carboy. While there is a built in filter on the one end of the tube to stop a lot of the trub from getting into your bottling bucket, you can stop the tube about an inch to a half an inch from the bottom to stop even more sediment. At the other end of the stainless tube is plastic tubing that will deliver the beer to your bottling bucket. The only other piece to the siphon is the important part that makes it all work.
A small tube with an airlock on it is also on the top of the siphon – in order to make the siphon do it’s thing, you just need to blow into it. By blowing into the little tube, you create an excess of pressure in the carboy, which forces the beer up the stainless steel rod, through the plastic tubing, and finally down into the bottling bucket. Once you have it started, you can just walk away as it won’t stop on its own until it starts sucking air. No matter what you might think right now, moving the rod around is a mistake – just leave it do its thing so you don’t accidentally disturb the trub.
Once you have an inch of so of beer in the bucket, you want to boil four ounces of water with the included corn sugar, and then stir that in. This will provide some extra food for the yeast, and allow it to carbonate your beer. When the bottling bucket is full, you’ll want to put some aluminum foil on the top so nothing accidentally falls in. At this point, I recommend putting the bottling bucket exactly where you want it, and leave it for about an hour just so any trub that snuck in has a chance to settle on the bottom.
The MoreBeer.com kit comes with an easy bottle filling adapter – just put it over the end of the spigot, and you can leave the spigot open through the whole bottling process. The adapter has a valve on it so unless the bottom of a bottle is pushing on it, no liquid will come out. That’s one of the perks of this kit as well, the fact that it comes with glass bottles – every other kit I’ve tested either comes with plastic bottles, or none at all. You can fill one bottle and then cap it, or what I preferred was to fill them all first, and then cap them all at once. The bottle capper that comes with the kit is really simple to use as well – just put it over top of the cap and squeeze.
After all of that, you set your bottles back in the case (or anywhere that they won’t be disturbed) and forget about them for two more weeks. Don’t bump them, or mess with them in any way – just let the yeast finish its job in peace. Before you know it, the two weeks will be over, and you’ll be ready to crack one open and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
So what about the beer?
Well my kit came with a Light Ale, and while it may not be a complex beer it’s still very good. The taste is quite smooth and mellow – a real easy drinker. The color is an extremely light gold, and the clarity was astounding (100 times more clear than what I got from the Cooper’s kit. I hope to get some other more complex flavors from these guys in, and I’ll be sure to report back on that as well. For what it’s worth though, if you’re looking for something to drink with a light dinner – or even a great beer to relax with – this pale ale would be a refreshing choice.
From the enjoyment I had using this kit, to the ease of actually completing the home brewing process, I have to give this kit from MoreBeer.com my highest rating of five out of five stars.
The bottom line: If you’re thinking about home brewing and want to start off on the right foot, pony up the extra money and get this kit – it has everything you’ll need to get you started making your own delicious beer.
As always, you can get this kit, and all of your home brewing needs directly from MoreBeer.com.