Bottling completed, and with only one major mistake, which… knock on wood, I think will be okay.
I tested my bottling bucket with water for complete drainage and found 12-16oz waste that wouldn’t pour out my drainage spout. Combined with what I couldn’t rack from the fermentor, and the sacrifice to the floor gods, and a gravity sample that I also tasted, I only lost 21oz. Somehow I feel like all those things add up to much more than that…..ahhh right the 16oz of water I added for the dextrose boil. Which isn’t 16oz at all but rather 16oz PLUS the volume of 150g of sugar added, which pushes it up to 20oz. That was my major mistake…
First of all, I should point out that my BrewCraft extract kit was from New Zealand and instead of making a standard 5gal recipe, I am making a 6gal recipe or more precisely 23L. (6gal = 768oz, 23L=777oz) My bottling bucket however was only 5 Gallons, and so I knew I’d have to bottle in two batches and split the priming sugar accordingly. Easy enough right?
I added 16oz of water (+dextrose) to the boil. I poured EXACTLY HALF (8oz) into half of the green brew. After bottling the first 12 liters, I poured the rest of the sugar water into my sanitized measuring cup just for kicks…..and stared at the 12oz reading….with wide eyes… Special words, brew day only words quickly came into my mind, but I decided not to panic. Afterall, panic might ruin the bottling!
I quickly ran to my computer and thankfully had left the priming calculator up. I quickly calculated the ratios of the 8/12oz (of dextrose + water) as 0.4 and 0.6, then multiplied that out from 150g. This was 60/90g… Panic began to return, I remembered all the stories of bottle bombs, breaking glass in the night and worst of all…lost beer!
I was shooting for 2.4 units of CO2 carbonation based on the list from the priming calculator site. It suggested that German Pilseners are around 2.5. BJCP told me that German Pilsners were medium/high carb and Czech Pilsners were medium. The list shows 2.5, so I knocked it down one point. After plugging in the numbers (technically I bottled 12L and then 11L, not exactly half) I found that my first half-batch would come in around 2.0 carb and the 2nd half-batch would come in around 2.8.
A great sigh of relief told me that everything would be fine, WHEW!!!! With other beers on the priming calculator site showing as high as 4.7 CO2 units, I figured the bottles were safe from exploding. My first instinct was to dump 4oz just to be safe, but I realized I had the opportunity to split test, so now I’ve had the opportunity to test both a low-carb and high-carb Pilsner.
How do you think I managed to rack from the fermenter directly into my brew bucket outlet?? That’s right, floor god sacrifice! Pull it and plug it and try to avoid splashes!
I now see the advantage of a shutoff valve, or at the bare minimum more than one tube for siphoning. It took me a second to figure out how to transfer the beer to a bucket with a hole in the bottom, but through the hole is the simplest answer.
I estimated 12 22oz bombers (264oz) and 42 12oz bottles (504oz) for a total of 768oz (6gal). However my batch was 777oz at 23L, and I ended up losing only 1 of the 42 bottles to the 21oz loss mentioned above. Not bad. I boiled 6 extra bottle caps and sanitized 2 more bottles than I thought I’d need. I lost 3 caps due to sanitation failure. (Clumsily dropped them on the floor, of course I can use them for next time.) Because I had extras I could easily move on and keep bottling.
I took a sample of course when testing the gravity and it wasn’t too bad. It’s definitely a plain low bitterness beer, but all in all I think it might age well and the carbonation should help immensely. Being new to this I can’t comment if it takes a lot of skill to make a great Pilsner, but I can say that a great Pilsner is far above a simple light watery beer. Pilsner Urquell is one of my favorites, and it has complex notes of honey. These can be VERY pronounced when it’s on tap in the Czech republic, but much less so when bottled. If I make a Pilsner again I’m using honey.
Empty fermenter means……What should I do for my 2nd brew? Definitely something that I manually hop, not sure if I want to mash or not yet. Suggestions?