S.S. Minnow Brown Ale
Back in the middle of winter and I decided to brew another beer. I choose (more or less at random) a low gravity session brown extract kit from Northern Brewer: the Dry Dock SS Minnow.
Since it was the middle of winter I decided to do a simple partial extract brew. I could do this entirely in the kitchen without a lot of special equipment. The boil went fine but the specific gravity of the wort once it was in the carboy was only 1.030, well short of the suggested 1.037 (which is already pretty low - the lower the original gravity, the less potential alcohol you'll get). This is odd in an extract kit because there aren't a lot of things that can go wrong.
The larger problem was that over the course of the four week fermentation cycle it only dropped ten points. After the first three weeks I made up a second yeast starter - but that didn't do much beyond drop the gravity two more points. My guess is that it was poorly oxygenated at the beginning.
In the end I decided to bottle this beer (rather then keg it). My brother's coworker gave my six cases of awesome 32oz bottles (originally from Walter's Beer). Some of the bottles still have the original label (which says, among other things, "family size"). It was the work of an afternoon to wash, rinse and sanitize all those bottles (plus the dozen 22oz bottles I had picked up earlier that week). Once I got everything ready the bottling process was pretty straight-forward. This was, in fact, the first time I bottled an entire carboy of beer.
Finally, after waiting for bottle conditioning and the subsequent chilling, I cracked open a bottle of the mild brown ale. The only thing I'm disappointed in is the low amount of alcohol. Everything else is good. Even the carbonation is right where it should be. And the nice thing about a low alcohol beer is that you can just keep drinking them, one right after another (which is, in fact, what I'm doing).