One June 30th, we started brewing another batch of beer, this time an English brown ale. Mike did most of the work for this brew, although I still helped, and I’d say that the entire process went much smoother.
We did make a few changes this time around: (1) we didn’t stir the wort while it was cooling, (2) we skipped filtering with paper towels (which, of course, cannot be sanitized—we didn’t think of that last time, and although it didn’t result in any problems, it was tedious and unnecessary) and instead used a (newly acquired) pump to move the wort to the fermenter, leaving much of the sediment at the bottom of the boiling pot, and (3) we filled the fermenter to four gallons, rather than five, and checked the OG repeatedly while adding more water, thus preventing us from ending up with the reduced alcohol content we had last time. We ended up with a little bit less beer this time around, but perhaps next time we’ll start with more water than the instructions indicate to compensate; a lot of water boils off during the cooking process, and the kit recipes don’t really seem to take this into account. Alternatively, we should perhaps cover the pot as much as possible when preparing the wort.
Brown ales aren’t my favorite, so my verdict on this one is so-so (I’ve found another way to benefit from this brewing experience—more on that later), but Mike and I have shared this beer with a number of friends, and the consensus seems to be that our second homebrewing attempt was also a resounding success. The brown ale kit was selected by a friend of ours who is about to begin graduate school in Chicago, so we were glad to be able to share some of the final product with him before he left. Since this is an English brown ale, Mike has dubbed it Good Ol’ Gordon’s. Cheers!