Taking a beer with off flavors to 1st place at Battle of the Brews

Oh Well, What the Hell a couple of weeks following bottle conditioning.

As you may recall (well probably not), on December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the pre-boil specific gravity came in way too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to make it a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections. And, after 10 days in the fermenter, I tasted slight soapy and buttery flavors in the new beer. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

It has 5.5% ABV and and calculates out to 43 IBU.

Given these imperfections, would we bottle or would we throw the whole batch down the drain?

Well, we here out Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) we went ahead and bottled, and hoping to mask the dish soap flavor, we used honey for the bottle conditioning fermentation.

Now, with only moments to go before we have to serve this beer–which we have renamed after some dead guy and claimed that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe involving wild honey and monk sweat–at the homebrewers portion of the semi-prestigious Battle of the Brews beer event. Let’s hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[Norm smiles and opens doors while carrying boxes filled with bottles of beer named after some dead guy and claiming that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe]

The Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale garnered 36 points at the Battle of the Brews in Santa Rosa, 2nd place had 35 points, and 3rd had 33.5 points. Woo hoo!

Success! Oh Well took 1st place in the homebrewers tasting competition in BJCP #10A American Pale Ale category.

The history of beer – King Tut and the magic microbes

Egypt: Thebes

The hieroglyphs read, “Beer, allowing ugly people to have sex since 5998 BCE.” (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum)

As word etymologist John Ciardi said, “Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.”

We humans have been putting microbes to work for us for over 8,000 years, starting in ancient Egypt. If you watched the Discovery channel’s Brew Masters episode, Ancient Ale, you’ll know that beer and bread are closely aligned. Archeologists suspect that a piece of bread fell into a vat of soaking grain, making a gruel with yeast to begin the fermentation process. In those days, beer was used as payment for work.

Nowadays, we consume over 34,000,000,000 gallons of beer annually for the pleasure of simply slaking our thirst.

The saga of the “Oh Well, What the Hell” Pale Ale. Off Flavors.

If  you have ever watched an episode of Brew Masters  on the Discovery Channel,  you will have seen Sam Calagione  wrestle with whether they should dump a batch of beer that didn’t quite meet their standards. Unlike me, the folks at Dogfish Head Brewing have standards. They have flavor profiles. They have degrees of Plato (a system of specific gravity). They have all the benchmarks of their beers charted. They have to be consistent.

I, on the other hand, am just trying to make something that tastes pretty good. On December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the specific gravity came in too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to try to make simply a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections.

Though it is only been 10 days, which shouldn’t be too long, I can detect slight soapy and buttery tastes. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

So, to bottle or not to bottle or not to bottle. That is the question.

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 5, 2011) Aviation...

To bottle or not to bottle or not to bottle. That is the question.(Image via Wikipedia)

Ska brewing’s parody of Discovery’s (former program) Brew Masters

I loved Brew Masters. Now comes “Brew Minions” from Ska Brewing. This parody treats the show better than the Discovery Channel has. Discovery apparently has dropped the axe on Brew Masters due to the strong arming threats of Big Beer to cancel all advertising on the network.

BTW, if you can’t see the video, try another browser. My Firefox doesn’t display Vimeo. But Safari worked fine.