Probably one of the smoothest bottling experiences so far, and not just because it was a half-batch. Shortening the hose was a GREAT idea. So was purchasing an auto-siphon clip. Getting the hose filled and flowing only took one or two pumps. Added my priming sugar (boiled ~⅝ Briess Light Dried Malt Extract in 8 oz water for five minutes) after filling the secondary carboy with about half the beer, and then siphoned the rest. Swirled a few times and we were off and filling bottles.
Although the bottling went smoothly, I'm concerned about the overall flavor and body of the finished beer. The FG came in at 1.024 (1.022 @ 80 'F). ABV was probably 6-7%.
Smell: Alcohol (do I really want the beer to smell like "alcohol"?), sweet, citrus, spicy
Look: Cloudy, deep orange
Taste: VERY strong, alcohol flavor, spicy, sweet, citrus
Mouth-feel: Heavy, thick (nowhere near as crisp as I wanted; I think I went overboard on the added steeping grains, especially the Carapils malt).
I plan to let this beer bottle condition for several weeks before testing it. I've read that some Belgian triples are conditioned for months before they hit store shelves. That may be what I decide to do here.
In the meantime, I plan to really "hit the books" on brewing. I feel totally overwhelmed by the difference between malted and unmalted grains, which grains may be used for steeping and which require mashing. I also need to buckle down and try to brew a few beers exactly according to recipe. I should aim to replicate OG, FG, and IBU. I just want to develop my own recipes and unique flavors so badly. But you've got to walk before you run.
I did find some great resources. How to Brew by John Palmer is now available online for free, http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html.
This table will be especially helpful:
Nominal Malt Steeping Yields in Points/Pound/Gallon
2 Row Base Malt
6 Row Base Malt
2 Row British Pale Malt
Light Crystal (10 - 15L)
Pale Crystal (25 - 40L)
Medium Crystal (60 - 75L)
Dark Crystal (120L)
Black Patent Malt
Malto - Dextrin Powder
Sugar (Corn, Cane)
Steeping data is experimental and was obtained by steeping 1 lb. in 1 gal at 160°F for 30 minutes. All malts were crushed in a 2 roller mill at the same setting. * The low extraction from steeping is attributed to unconverted, insoluble starches as revealed by an iodine test.
Also some nice, straight-forward info on Northern Brewer, http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2010/04/grain-malts-demystified/
Some info on converting recipes, http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2011/08/converting-recipes/, and a helpful calculator, http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/recipe.html.
And one thing I should definitely do next time is make a yeast starter, http://youtu.be/jMhFerNTwbQ.