St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale
The St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale is the first beer I ever home brewed.
I bought a “getting started” kit from Home Brew Online. It came with the required equipment to get started (a fermentation bin, bottles, little bottler, hydrometer, sanitiser, etc) and the beer kit. The beer kit is supposed to be as good as, or better than, the original beer from St Peter’s Brewery.
The Ruby Red Ale is described as:
An auburn red ale with subtle malt undertones and a pleasing aroma of vine fruits. This rich ale is brewed with Rye Crystal malt providing it with a distinctive spiced and peppery aroma, with pleasant woody flavours.
The ale apparently won the “Silver Medal in the 2010 International Beer Challenge” and the kit will brew 40 pints of the stuff!
I haven’t actually tasted the original beer – so I don’t know if what I produced is good enough. I keep looking in local supermarkets for a bottle! From reading reviews online, there are two reason’s I chose this kit: the beer it produces tastes great, and it’s very hard to get it wrong. It sounded like a good beginner’s kit.
Making the beer
To make the beer, I followed the instructions exactly. The brew went into the fermentation vessel on 22 August. The original gravity was 1040 at 26°C, which is probably about 1041 if corrected to 20°C (but I don’t think my measurement was that accurate!). I tasted a bit of the wort before I added the yeast: it was bitter with a long aftertaste and very little hoppy aroma, with a slight lingering sweetness.
On day 1 the airlock was bubbling frequently, with the water completely bubbled out. I replaced the water several times over the course of the day.
One day 2 the bubbling continued, and I replaced the water again.
After 6 days I took a gravity reading, and another at 8 days. The readings were stable at 1007, so it was time to bottle.
I bottled directly from the fermentation vessel into 500ml PET bottles, each primed with 2 carbonation drops. I was able to get 39x 500ml bottles and 1 two litre Torp filled.
With the priming sugar, I think the final ABV is about 4.5%.
I kept the bottles inside in the warm for 7 days to carbonate, and then moved them outside to the garage to clear and condition.
The fermentation, carbonation and conditioning stages took part during the summer. The ambient temperature was often quite high in the room where the fermentation vessel was kept and no control was used to keep the temperature stable.
On 10 September (day 19) I prematurely opened the first bottle after keeping it in the fridge for 8 hours. The plastic bottle was solid, showing it had carbonated. The bottle opened with a pzzzt and a small amount of “mist”, and poured without much head. The beer was fizzy on the tongue and carbonation could be seen in the glass.
The beer had cleared slightly, with light visible through it and a good collection of yeast remaining at the bottom of the bottle. It had a nice, balanced taste, much like a shop bought beer. Mildly bitter with a mild hop aroma. There was small amount of floating debris in beer, but on finishing the drink none was visible in the bottom of the glass.
On 25 September (day 34) another bottle was consumed, with a good improvement over the first drink. The carbonation and head retention had improved, and the flavour was more balanced. There was still some floating debris in the drink, but less than before. The beer was much more drinkable.
This was my first brew and, looking back, I think I rushed a lot of the stages in making this beer – having followed the instructions to the ‘T’. The time in the fermentation vessel should have been increased to closer to two weeks, and I should have kept the bottles in the warm for longer to carbonate. I also probably starting drink the beer too early, not giving it enough time to condition.
A piece of advice I keep seeing online is “follow the 2x2x2 rule”: that is, at least 2 weeks in each of fermenting, carbonating, and conditioning. I’ll know for next time!
I’ll have to get my hands on the real beer from St Peter’s to compare the two.