Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Rack 'em, b****"

You would think that on my own blog I wouldn't feel the need to self-censor. The phrase is one I heard many times in bars around Memphis State as I tried to make myself into a competent pool player. It was almost always directed at me, since the loser had to rack for the next game. I owe Rusty and DJ a debt of gratitude for convincing me I had no future in billiards.

Today I took batch 090501 (F&H Geordie Ale) out of primary fermentation into secondary fermentation, in a process called "racking." I measured the gravity and it was about where the recipe predicted it would be, so I decided to move to the next phase of the process.

Here's a shot of the settled yeast sediment at the bottom of the primary fermenter.

Racking is a siphoning activity. The idea is to transfer beer to another carboy and leave the spent yeast sediment in the original carboy. I have a siphon pump that I stuck into the carboy to get the flow going.

I tilted the carboy to create more depth on one side, so I could get more beer without sucking yeast off the bottom.

When the siphoning was done, I had a full carboy for secondary fermentation and a whopping big yeast cake left over. If I had planned ahead, I could have captured ("washed") that yeast and kept it for future batches, which would have saved me the $6.99 each yeast pack costs. It looks like I could have gotten 5 or 6 batches worth out of what was left over. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to wash that yeast, so it's now seeking new life forms in the yard where I dumped it out.

The last thing I did was introduce some gelatin as a "fining" agent. It is supposed to clarify the beer by causing the remaining yeast and other stuff to fall out of suspension. We'll see. At any rate, here's the Geordie in secondary, where it will sit until Thursday or so. After this, the next stop is kegging!

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