Homebrew batches 12 and 13
As embarrassing as it is to say, I’ve skunked two batches. Nope, not 12 and 13, but actually 10 and 11. If you know me, I’m my own worst critic. I’ve brewed some decent beers in the 13 months since I started. Yet I can something wrong with each one. Either it’s too cloudy or too dark. Or there’s hop sediment in the bottom from dry hopping. Maybe it has too much head, or too little head. Yet friends will tell me how much they enjoyed it. I always reply with what I think I could do to make it better. Sarah, my beautiful and sweet wife, who is more straight forward and tells you how it is more than anyone else I know, has even told me some were good. Her favorite so far would have been the ale I brewed her last spring with lemon zest and seeds of paradise. She loved it and told everyone it was my best beer yet. I still think it was too dark and didn’t finish dry enough. But there was no denying that 10 and 11 were skunked. Tracing my steps back I dropped the ball on sanitization. My thinking was that my equipment was so new and used frequent enough that it stayed clean. However after brewing again back in December and my stuff sitting up over a hot summer it become filthy. No, there was never any sign of mold, or dirt, or scum, anything. However, after both came out of the primary fermenter there was a hint of roadkill. A nice pungent smell. Nothing overwhelming, just off, that put a tingle on the nose. Nevertheless, 10 and 11 would be dumped.
With new cleaning agent and a bottle of no rinse sanitizer in hand, I brew two extract recipes. The first up would be my first rebrew from an original recipe dubbed New Bee pale ale originally. New Bee was extended from newb, since this was my first recipe created by myself. The bee comes from the pound of honey I add to the boil to boost the ABV and add a touch of sweetness on the tongue. My only change this time around would be the hops. I used Centennial and Cascade last year at 60 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. I swap them around this time to lower the IBU from almost 40 last year, down to 35 for the batch this year. I dry hopped with Brewer’s Gold last year, and went with Citra this year to add a pleasant citrus note. Sarah did not like it last year, so let’s see if I please my second worst critic this time around.
We actually left the house this year for New Year’s Eve, and went to some friends. Sarah was nervous about drinking the slew of liquor they had for the party. So we swing threw Kroger to make some pizza dip and she picks up a six pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, which might be her favorite. I of course go packing with double growlers from The Beer Growler. So to please her for allowing me to brew period I conjure up a cherry wheat recipe. My first attempt at a wheat was a peach based extract recipe. I knew and had read always have 50% base malt and 50% wheat malt. So I did just that, totally not realizing my extract was a wheat extract. So it ended up being a dunkelweizen, or a double wheat, and slightly dark. SRM matched perfectly with the BJCP dunkel class, so that’s what I called it. It was good, nice peach taste, but super boozy when it warmed. I was going to do another peach but of course there’s no peaches in the store during January. So I grabbed two pounds of sweet Bing cherries. I decide to puree one pound and add to boil at 15 minutes. The other pound is in the freezer, and I’ll rack over them into the secondary. One key note on handling cherries. Wear rubber gloves. I’m pulling the stems and digging out the pits on brewday. Sarah is still asleep. I notice after some time my hands resemble mutilated fingers from a horror movie. To the bedroom I go! I drop to my knees with elbows over the bed. She rolls over squinting due to no corrective vision and starts gasping. I lick my fingers, giggle and walk away. Her heart rate and heavy breathing suggest she didn’t get the laugh out of it that I did. Everything goes as plan until I get ready to chill the wort. One of my water hoses ruptures and I can’t get the wort to chill as much as I’d like. I knew I had some pre-boiled water waiting in the fermenter, so I filter the wort into that and find it’s still hotter than my wort was. So dinner is almost ready and I do the only thing I know to do… let it chill on it’s on, but with some help from what Mother Nature left behind.
I was a bit nervous the next morning seeing how usually I’ll have an airlock that’s bubbling more then me after a night of hot wings. I give the fermenter a swift kick and it seems that’s all it took.
I’ve been wanting to go all grain since three months of starting to brew. Not that there is anything wrong with extract brewing, but we all know the best homebrews are from all grain. I’ve been given the ok that if batch 12 and 13 turn out good, then I can buy the equipment needed. It’s not cheap, but I think well worth it. Looking to go with a 10 gallon stainless set-up. I’m actually going to an acquaintance’s house tomorrow to see (hopefully help) him brew on his all grain set-up. With what I know already he’s on his way to being a pro brewer. I’m super excited. The pale ale is sitting under floating citra hops in the secondary now, while the sweet cherry wheat is still actively fermenting in the primary.
Here’s to hoping batch 12 and 13 are success. Or else I have some junk for sell and will be back playing golf on a regular basis. Which I find is much easier to be good at then brewing. But then again I’ve been playing golf for 10 years and it took more than 13 months to shoot par.