Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beer Postings

Man beer postings just seem to lack their emotional punch without pictures don't they?

Well tough I didn't take any pictures so I'm just going to have to rely on my words to describe my most recent cockup in brew making.  I was on vacation for the last week, and thusly didn't have a beer ready to go back into the oak barrel when my "guest brewer" got done with it.  He did a wee heavy in it, and delivered it to my home rinsed and waiting for some beer to go back into it on Saturday.  Sadly I didn't have anything for the thirsty barrel so I went about correcting that.  I needed to compress the brew times and I wanted to do an IPA, so I settled on doing a Cascadian dark ale (aka Black IPA).  You can find my recipe here, it was a collaboration with my brew store beer savant and I did it extract for the convenience of time.  All said it was still about 4ish hours of work for a 1.083 syrupy mess.

Because it was a largish batch with high gravity I gave my yeast a head start with some corn sugar and yeast nutrient in about 1/3 of a gallon of water.  Over the course of the brew day I came to discover that my trusty digital thermometer had bit the dust and was reading inaccurately, so I was flying blind for a large chunk of the day.  When the day was done I had almost 7 gallons in my fermenter and that left and uncomfortably small amount of room for the krausen to work.  I stayed up until almost 2am listening to the airlock bubble away happily before deciding it might just stay in there.  When I woke up 8 hours later I had a huge mess, krausen gushing out the top of my bucket and filling my chest freezer turned kegorator.  In all I'd say I lost about 1/2 a gallon of what is going to be 8%ish abv beer.  It was a true day of mourning as I tried to clean it up, split the batch into a second fermenter to try and contain it.  All I can say is Danstar's Nottingham yeast is a monster, it powered through and as of last night was settled down, with the krausen almost completely collapsed, the airlock slowed to a mere bubble a minute or so.  I'm tempted to rack to the barrel just to be done monitoring the damn thing,  but first I have to come up with a way to strain out all the damn hops still floating around in there.  Whole leaf hops are such a pain in the ass.

Any how that's all I've got to say about that.

To ABFTS's question about how the american strong tastes, it's like doing a whiskey drop in a pale ale.  Scotch ales have a darker malt profile (and are offensively bitter), american strong is just a really high gravity pale ale.  Look at the grain bill, it's copper colored wort, and moved more towards amber from the char on the oak.  So far the feed back on it has been pretty solid, my gripe is the head retention is near nonexistent because of the whiskey and oak.  I've probably over compensated on the cascade dark ale, but I like some head when I pour.


  1. Your words surely did not fail you. Sucks that you lost half a gallon, but at least it's contained for now.

    Also, thanks for answering my question, and I agree with you that it just doesn't seem "right" if there's not any head when you pour. I'm curious how head retention will be with my next batch, now that I'm going to be using that oak barrel I mentioned.

    Which reminds me, I always get the "funny guy" at the dinner party/BBQ who will inevitably joke that he likes when he "gets head." Har har. Yes, you're so original. I never get sick of hearing that one...

    1. I had a moderately interesting discussion with my brew store guy about Carpills/Dextrine and he was saying that even in larger batches it doesn't help to scale that up for head retention, it does more for body. He was saying he never does more than a pound in a batch. If your after head retention he talked about flaked barely and a few other grains. That said if you are looking to do a dark beer Carafa is really interesting stuff. It's already de-husked and looks like coco nibs.

    2. Interesting, I had always heard that carapils added head and body, but after a quick Google search, I see more people saying it only adds body. That's good to know.

      Also, I'd really like to make a good stout soon, so I'm going to definitely look into some Carafa.

  2. Not much of a brewer at all and I can't drink too much of the stuff. Still, I've always wanted to get more into scotches.