Today was the second stage in my beer-making, and I was pretty excited about it! I even scrubbed down the bottle-capper.
I was very diligent in cleaning up all my gear. The plastic bucket would not hold enough water to wash and sterilize everything (there's a quarter-sized hole where the spigot goes) but I found a clever way around this: I stored it inside the large pot I boil my wort in. In this way I filled up three gallons of water and (after scrubbing down with soap and rinsing) let all my equipment soak in OneStep to really clean it before soaking it all in StarSan to sanitize it. I think this is the best prep job I've ever done.
Unfortunately, all the joy ended there. Racking from the carboy into the mixing bucket was unfavorable since I discovered, belatedly, my carboy cap is for a five-gallon model and I'm making one gallon. The cap for this jug is considerably smaller and my carboy cap was inapplicable. I racked it with simple tubing but sucked up a substantial amount of yeast from the bottom, despite my best efforts, and the beer that went into the bucket is cloudy as hell.
I tested the specific gravity of the beer: two weeks ago it was 1030 and today it was 1012. One of my colleagues suggested this puts it at around 2.3% ABV, which is depressing since it should've been 7%. I tasted it and it tasted like watery lager, not a hint of bourbon or oak in it. Regardless, I mixed in the maple syrup and bottled it into five bombers. In two weeks we'll see how bad of a disaster it is.
There aren't any pictures because my crappy-assed Samsung camera is broken and inoperable.
Next time I make a batch, I will let it sit in the primary fermenter for the full two weeks, rack it into a secondary container for eleven days and then place it in the fridge for three days. I'm told this will help the yeast settle and clarify the beer. I'm thinking about getting one of those attachments that go on the bottom of the racking wand, that guard it from touching bottom by an inch or two. Though what I saw tonight would contradict its efficacy: even one inch off the surface of the yeast, a tiny pale waterspout of yeast would rise up and stream into the hose, no matter how I moved it around. Perhaps there's no getting around that.