Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the first taste of the Rooibos American Pale Ale, lovingly made by me. Well, mostly made by Beer Nerd Boyfriend, but I helped! If you want to catch up on part 1 of the brewing process, you can do so here.
But first, there were (quite a few) more steps we needed to follow before we were able to dive into this newborn beer. First of all, we had to cold crash the APA for a few days in a sink full of ice and cold water. This causes the yeast bits to settle at the bottom, and makes it easier to leave those sediments behind when taking the beer out of the carboy. It looked a little something like this:
Then, we had to empty one of the kegs so we could transfer the APA into it to begin the carbonation process – meaning we had to put all that tasty beer into bottles. Once again in the bottling process, we had to sanitize all the things. To my delight, this included using a tree-type contraption to dry the inside of the bottles.
My delight didn’t end there: in order to fill up the bottles, Nick attached the keg to a tank of carbon dioxide and a beer gun. Yes, you read that right. A gun that shoots beer, AKA every frat boy’s dream.
Finally, the keg was empty. After over three long weeks of fermentation in the carboy and a day or so of crashing in the sink, we were finally ready to transfer the beer and taste it… in another two days. We kegged the beer, hooked it up to the Carbon Dioxide tank and left it in the sink, once again, so that it could carbonate. Cold liquids tend to take CO2 more easily, thus making the carbonation process happen faster. This method is referred to as forced carbonation, since you’re adding Carbon Dioxide to the beer to make it bubbly (science!). Home brewers will also carbonate their beers directly in the bottle – this requires adding a measured amount of sugar into the bottle in order to get it to chemically react with the remaining yeast.
Finally, we were ready to taste our home brewed beer! Lo and behold, it was pretty darn tasty. On the nose, there was some tea and a lot of hops. There was a sweetness up front that I think might be down to including maybe a touch too much of that malt body. You could still get quite a bit of the tea, though. The bitterness carries, while there’s something fruit-like in the middle and just a touch of citrus. If we were to make this again, I think we would play down the malty aspects of it and focus on getting the citrus and the fruit through even more intensely. According to Nick, those notes apparently stuck out a little more after spending more time in the keg.
Even though our beer didn’t turn out quite as planned, I really enjoyed this brewing experience. I can’t wait to help out on the next one… although I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of that magical beer science. I’ll just leave all the calculations to Beer Nerd Boyfriend. I am still just an intern, after all.