This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale…the bottling

It’s been nearly a month since we at Flog This Dead Brewing avoided injuring even though we boiled 10 gallons of wort for over 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children and tipsy people. We were able to move the wort into fermenting carboys and added yeast at which point the wort changed (legally at least) into beer. A week later we took a sample (using a wine thief, essentially a long plastic pipette)  and its specific gravity measured 1.023.  Though there were some “dish soap” tastes–probably phenols produced by the yeast.

Hydrometer shows the finishing specific gravity of 1.014

After one month in the primary and secondary combined, and two weeks after dry-hopping with an ounce of cascade hops, the specific gravity has reached its final gravity of 1.014.

So today, the beer will be bottled and set aside for bottle conditioning. Bottle conditioning is the process of adding sugars to the beer to awaken the yeast and get them working again. Their burping of carbon dioxide inside the bottle will carbonate the beer.

But, first we will taste the month-old beer to see how it’s doing so far. The beer has a deep red color with a floral nose and taste (reminiscent of rose petals). The soapiness is gone and hoppiness jumps out at you but it is still slightly sweet. In future batches, I think the malt might use a little more presence. Since this was an extract brew there was not much we could do about that. The yeast ate the extract and left the beer a little drier. In an all-grain batch I might try mashing in the 155F (68C) range which will leave some more unfermentable sugars that the yeast can’t digest.

I’ve decided to experiment  with the flavor profile by bottle conditioning half of the batch with corn sugar (0.46  oz/gal) and half with honey (0.56 oz/gal). I’m interested to see how the honey will play with the already great flavors. It may be too much of a good thing. We will know in a few more weeks which method was the right choice.

Carbonation calculation for a brown ale.

Here’s the recipe for the Big Irish American Red beer:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

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.

This week on Brew Disasters: “Oh Well, What the Hell?” Pale Ale

It looks okay...

No doubt you’re not wondering what we here at Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery decided to do with the “Oh Well, What The Hell?pale ale after detecting  soapy and buttery tastes. The soapy flavor could be the result of the breakdown of the fatty acids that in the trub at the bottom of the fermenter (though ten days hardly seems too long to leave trub in the bottom) or a by-product of some yeasts. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl.

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.

Once again we used the Beer Recipator’s Carbonation site to come up with the proper amount of sugar for the style of beer brewed. The style was  American pale ale.  American pale ales should have a volume of CO2 of 2.2-2.8. We split the middle and  went with 2.5. They recommended 4.53 ounces (128 g) of honey. We found a website that would convert weight of honey to volume of honey and the amount  calculated out to 3 fluid ounces. We siphoned the carboy into a priming bucket, added the 3 oz of honey, and bottled the stuff.

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

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–at the [insert big time beer event here], we hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[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]