Yesterday evening I invited over Josh, a friend of ours, to help me bottle the first batch.
It was kind of stressful, I think from now on I won't do anything brewing related unless the kids are away or asleep. They both insisted on being involved. Zach was the designated bottle dumper, I gave them each a quick rinse to make sure anything lingering from the cleaning process was washed away. Ella chose capping as her task of choice. All in all, it went rather well.
The beer ended up at about 1.012, which for an English Special Bitter seems about right. It tasted ok, but being room temperature, young and undercarbonated, I can't expect a whole lot.
Oddly enough, I only ended up with only about a case and a half of beer. I left a good inch on the bottom of the secondary and I think when I did the initial transfer from bucket to carboy, I left a little more liquid than I needed to wash the trub for storage. The carboy cap-siphon starter method worked great to get things going into the bottling bucket, but I had to use the mouth-method to start the bottle filler. I'll have to read into a better method for that step.
I also broke on bottle (filled unfortunately) by not paying attention and overzealously capping.
We took the chance to celebrate the holiday with an Irish Beef Stew I had made earlier in the day. I also opened the growler of Red Star's 4GA, their 4 Grain Ale (barley, wheat, oats and rye), which was dry-hopped this time around and quite tasty. Josh brought over a 6-pack of Weyerbacher Quad, but by the end of the evening, I was in no position to be drinking any of that one. At 12%+ I would have been asleep before 9:00.
Hopefully in three weeks I'll have a fairly passable beer. I'm hoping to get another batch brewed before the end of March, so I can keep with my once a month brewing schedule.