Saturday, May 19, 2007

Brew Update

From Sean:
Update for my homebrew (Gabri-Ale): I racked it into the secondary fermenter on Thursday. It is doing very well: I took a hydrometer reading and it will be at just about 5 percent alcohol, which is what you want for an English pale ale, which is what this is.

The beer, still uncarbonated, has a nice yellow-ish hue with a hint of orange. In other words, when the light shone through it, it looked very lovely. It'll settle out further for the next four or five days, and then it'll be ready to bottle. It'll carbonate, or "condition," in the bottles. With this batch, I am "dry hopping" for the very first time. Dry hopping means adding hops during secondary fermentation, in addition to the hops I added during the boil. This is a traditional English method of hopping and improves hop aroma.

Right now it is sitting in my office in its glass carboy with a towel wrapped around it. It is nice editing Gilbert Magazine while homebrew ferments behind me. Sort of like having a guardian angel there. The towel is to keep the light out. Why? Ever had a "skunked" beer? It gets that way from being exposed to light: light reacts badly with the hops, making them emit a skunk flavor and odor if exposed to light. That's why most bottled beer comes in brown bottles: it protects the beer from sunlight. Any skunked beer you might have had, I guarantee, came in a green or clear bottle. Beer in green or clear bottles is nearly always skunked. Corona, in clear bottles, is notorously skunky. Avoid it. Drink homebrew.


  1. Questions... Does all light affect the hops or just sunlight? Why, then, is beer usually served in clear mugs? Why aren't there brown glass mugs?

  2. Chanster,

    Yes, all light affects the hops, not just sunlight. The pale neon light that shines on beer as it sits in the stand-up cooler in your local grocery store or liquor store is death to beer in clear or green bottles.

    Glass as a material for serving beer in did not become popular until around the mid-ninteenth century. Before that most beer mugs were either earthenware or pewter. "Stein" is simply German for stone, indicating that beer mugs in Germany were made from either earthenware or stoneware. I have been to a tavern in Salzburg -- the Augustiner Braustuble (sp?) -- where you still rinse your own stein prior to using it.

    With the popularity of glass, the look of beer became important for the first time -- its color and whether it was cloudy. Hence, the rise in popularity of pale beers, especially a new style from the Continent, Pilsener, named for the Bohemian city where the style originated, Pilsen. Don't ask me for the Bohemian spelling.

    I have never experienced a beer getting skunky in the glass while drinking it. Being exposed to air affects it much more drastically -- it starts to go flat. I can't imagine any self-respecting beer drinker allowing his beer to get skunked before he finishes his glass.

    This is probably a much longer answer than what you were looking for.

  3. Thanks a lot!


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