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First Look at the Wedding Ale

2011 March 6

We got our first glimpse of the American Wheat beer that will become Wedding Ale (or whatever name we decide) today, one week after we brewed the 5-gallon batch.

Siphoning to secondary

To those that are not used to seeing the brewing process, you may find this first glimpse to be a bit disgusting!  However, as soon as I opened up the lid of the bucket, I knew that everything was going exactly to plan.  There was a layer of foam on the top, formed by the carbon dioxide that the yeast produce as a byproduct (which will later be utilized to carbonate the beer).  And at the bottom was a thick layer of “turb” made up of yeast and leftover grain and hops that made it into the primary fermenter.

Today, what we did was transfer the wort (that’s what you call beer that’s not quite beer yet) from the bucket it’s been in for the past seven days, into a clean glass container where it will sit for the next week.  All last week, the yeast was hard at work, turning all of that sugar into alcohol and starting the transformation from wort to beer.

Why Do Secondary Fermentation?

We transfer it to a clean container so that it is no longer sitting on the collection of yeast, grain, and hops that have collected at the bottom of the primary fermenter.  Over the next week, the beer will continue to clarify and more of the yeast that is currently suspended in the brew will settle out to the bottom (along with any remaining sediment still mixed in the beer).

Next weekend, we will move the beer one last time, from the glass carboy into about 50 brown glass bottles that we will cap, allowing the carbon dioxide produced by the small amount of remaining yeast to carbonate the beer before we put it in the fridge.

Additionally, by doing a secondary fermentation, it will make it easier to collect the yeast out of the bottom to use in my next batch.  In primary, there is leftover grain and hops all mixed in with the yeast, but after secondary, the yeast is pretty clean and easy to re-harvest and re-use in the next batch of brew!

It’s a long process, but it is very rewarding to see everything working out.  I can’t wait to taste our first all-grain batch to see if it is fit to be given out at our rehearsal dinner and at to our out-of-town hotel guests the weekend of our wedding!

Related posts:

What is the Man Cave?
Creating "Wedding Ale" Step 2: Building a Mash Tun
49 Bottles of Wedding Ale
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