Friday, December 30, 2011

Coffin Varnish (Batch #4)

It feels like the days of prohibition here in the Homegrown household...... Dumping beers down the drain, getting a case of bootlegged Pliny the Elder....  Chaos and Order, like these warm nights in Winter, and instead of snow, we get a crazy thunderstorm!!

I have my first spoiled batch.... almost inevitable for every home-brewer. I am pretty sure where I went wrong, at least i hope so, or I will have a much larger problem with the two batches fermenting as we speak. It has been heartbreaking dumping all my precious Giggle Water down the sink. I hope I never have this happen again. It's many hours of work, waiting, enjoyment and wonderment, all down the drain. Oh yeah, and the greenbacks from my wallet. Sad for sure, but it has taught me a lesson, and made me a bit more aware and thoughtful of my process.

As I have stated before, I LOVE HOPS, I love the bitterness, I love the flavor, I love the Aroma. So with each of my batches, I add a little extra hops here and there, I dry hop every batch, and I also make a Hop Tea, that I add post boil, before primary fermentation.... and with this last batch I added hop tea at bottling time, thus my infected beer.(I hope that's where it came from).

When I had made my previous Hop Teas, I use boiling wort and Hops in a sanitized French Press, and let them sit about 5-10 minutes, press and add into carboy. I have had successful results, or at least I was yet to have an infection in my beer. Well this last batch I decided that the hop tea would be better noticed when adding at bottling time. It was a blunder for sure. I used the priming sugar/water pint to use in the french press with my hops, I didnt add it to the press at boiling temp and I made a mess when pressing it out, spillage, spray and a fumbling pour. After all of this, I am going to stay away from the tea for a bit.

So what does this spoiled beer taste like?? Sour apple warheads, (just the sour part), alcohol burn, and whatever a bitter-asshole would taste like ;]

On a lighter note, I just got hooked up with a case of Pliny the Elder...oh man,  yes a case!....24 500ml bottles of Hop Heaven. It was a special delivery, straight from Santa Rosa, brewery fresh, bottled 10 days prior and 10 hours in the car!  Thanks Calvin and Lauren!!!!

Stay tuned for a post on the great "Pliny the Elder" from Russian River Brewing

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beer for Breakfast (Batch # 3)

As I was enjoying the last glass of my third batch of Homegrown Suds, I realized I had never taken a picture of the beer yet!!!  Luckily I got a photo just in time, amid a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment and learning.

This batch tested my patience for sure, and taught me some lessons. I feel I have grown as a brewer with this one. I will know if this is all true with my next couple of batches, making some adjustments.

I went into this beer, hoping for a dry, light bodied, and highly hopped ale. What I got was a roller coaster of tastes. Because I have little patience and want to drink my beer too early, I began opening these bottles way too soon.  I started drinking them with no carbonation, because they were so good. Then I became worried that I never primed them right at bottling time, because over time the carbonation was very minimal. I initially began cellar the beer in the basement, the cool basement of Fall. Big mistake. I realized it was too cold downstairs for the bottles to condition in a timely manner so I moved them upstairs to a warmer climate. Long story short; in one week I gained the carbonation that I should have had three weeks ago.

This was also a flavor evolution. In my first tastings, the beer was incredibly hoppy. I added a decent amount hops in the boil, a hop tea i added into the primary, and a nice dry hop; at this point the beer lacked bitterness but had lots of aroma and flavor. Then over the next couple weeks, from behind the green flavor erupted a dominate sweetness of honey and toffee, still holding a lot of the aroma and flavor hops, and gaining carbonation. At this point I had already moved the beer upstairs to condition(3 weeks). Over the next two weeks, until now, as I am enjoying this last beer, the flavor balanced out, and finally the bitterness presented itself. I am not really sure why or how that happened, but the sweetness on the front of the tongue met its match with bitterness that held to the sides and back of the pallet.

Overall pretty good, I wont do this same recipe again, though it was plenty great!!!  My next batch, #4 ready to drink in a week or two, in recipe is quite similar. So we will see!!

What I have learned;

1) Crystal Malts (c and #, ie C30) add a sweetness to beer. These sugar molecules are harder for the yeast to eat and convert, there fore lending sweeter flavors to the beer.  Using a malt like 2 row in conjunction with other malts, has high enzyme power can help break these sugars down better for the yeast to enjoy. This I solve as I mini mash more, and move to all grain.

2) Patience.  Since I am not kegging yet, I cant force carb and enjoy my beer sooner, I have to wait. This next batch I am not opening a bottle until the three week mark. And not until 4 plus weeks will multiples get drank. I am wasting beer drinking it before it is at it best or better flavor.

3) Yeast, leave them alone and let them work their magic. Yeast are quite mysterious, and behave different beer to beer. As I do more batches, I have realized to just let them do there thing, and everything should turn out great.

4) Temperature, Since fall has rolled in the basement has dropped about 10 degrees cooler. I put a space heater down there and began a battle to control the environment. I began having fluctuations in fermenting temps, (we will see if this has effected the 5th batch), and slow fermentation and bottle conditioning. I have found with batch 6, a steady low heat keeps me at an ideal 68 degrees in the cellar.I had an awesome ferment this week.  Lets see if Lindsey kills me over the Power bill!!!


Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Home Brew