I suspect there might be several posts about beer over the next few days as I watch and wait to see how my current homebrew turns out. I got it cooled, added a bit of sugar to push up the gravity by a few points, siphoned it into one of my vat fermenters to remove it from the trub (see, I’m learning the vocabulary of brewing), mixed in the rehydrated yeast and transferred to the two 5l plastic water containers that I am using as mini-carboys (each has a hose fitted through the lid and leading to a third bottle that acts as a simple water lock).
And then, yesterday morning, I was concerned that not much was happening. My first two brews had shown lots of yeast growth within hours and this new batch seemed stuck before it had even started. I wondered if I had let the temperature get too high in the mash and that, although it looked, smelt and tasted right, there was not enough sugar in my wort. Monitoring mash temperature with a cheap meat thermometer is not, after all, the method recommended by most brewing experts!
Temperature seemed to be the answer though. I have been using a hot water bottle to get the fermenting vessels warmed up a bit and by yesterday evening things seemed to be working. Today that continues and all, I hope, is well. The trick of brewing, after all, is to set up an environment in which the yeast thrive so well that they drive out all competitors and convert sugars to alcohol before flocculating and descending into a dormant state at the bottom. After a tricky start, we seem to be on the right path although I will continue to monitor (one intended advantage of the new set up is that I can see the brew through the bottles rather than having to lift a lid and risk contamination).