Magic of fermentation

img_1395The magic of fermentation is underway again at our brewery (the downstairs closet). We will have a nice light wheat beer flavored with peaches ready in time for summer. Can’t wait!

Brewing started after David went to bed Sunday night, so that meant a late night for me. It appeared that the yeast started more quickly than normal, as they were well underway by the time I woke up the next morning, a great sign.

Emily prepared 3 ½ pounds of peaches by peeling and pitting them Sunday afternoon, and then we threw them into the freezer to break down the cell structure, helping to release more juice during fermentation.

While boiling this batch, I spaced out and added the irish moss earlier than the recipe called for. I hope this does not cause the finished beer to be too much hazier than normal. Irish moss is a natural clarifying agent that is helpful in making beer because it binds with the proteins that make beer cloudy. The typical haze in wheat-based beers are caused by these proteins.

Because of the vigorous initial fermentation and the presence of extra sugars from the peaches, I am preparing for a mess when I return home today, because there was not a lot of head space in the bucket for the krausen, the thick head that forms on top of the fermenting brew. The krausen sometimes can bubble up through the airlock (pictured at right, the airlock allows carbon dioxide out but prevents contaminants from getting in), down the bucket, and onto the floor. People joke about home brewers having explosions, but they are referring to over-primed bottles, not the initial fermentation bucket. The airlock allows the bucket to “breathe” out. That is, unless the krausen has clogged the airlock. Then the airlock will get blown out the top of the bucket. That happened to me once, I think on my second batch.