Monday, May 14, 2007

The last four

All of the last four beers have been pretty good beers. Unfortunately they have all been a bit too dry. I blame this on the two thermometers I use, one digital and one alcohol thermometer. The alcohol thermometer did measure two degrees Celsius lower than the digital. I did trust the digital one, but it does seem like the analog one is the more accurate one.

Two new high quality thermometers have been ordered, so I hope to have better results in the future.

Because I have used the digital thermometer all since I started brewing all-grain all of my beers have been fairly dry even though I have tried to make more sweeter beers. The attempts haven't been wholehearted, but I would think that a saccharisation rest at 69C should end up with a predominantly sweet beer.

#44 India Pale Ale, 7.6%: Light copper colour. The beer lacked the same roasted and nutty complexity that the previous IPA had. It was pretty good, but it was lighter in colour and ended up with much more alcohol than the previous one. I wasn't particularly satisifed with the hops. The Columbus provided as harsh bitterness and the Amarillo a pungent grassy flavour. Not what I find appropriate in an IPA.

#45 Altbier, 5.1%: Dark copper colour. In my opinon the best one of the four. Drying hop flavour from the Spalt hops. I had expected it to be more bitter, but the hops did lend more flavour than bitterness. Spalter Select is a nice hop which I'll use in other beers. The flavour also had quite a bit of caramel and chocolate.

#46 Weissbier, 6.4%: Cloudy pale golden colour. This one ended up way too dry and subsequently with a way too high alcohol content for the style. The alcohol level was not obvious in any way, but the dryness and the light body did not fit the style well. There was quite a bit of clove character in the beer, which I also tried to enhance by doing an acid rest. Unfortunately it is pretty obvious that the problems I had trying to raise the temperature to the saccharification rest did have an effect on the fermentability. There was next to no banana flavour in the beer even though the fermentation was very vigorous and the ambient temperature passed 22C at one time, but at an average the temperature was 19C.

#47 Imperial Porter, 6.8%: Pitch black. The soft water in Oslo has been playing tricks with me before and even this beer had some astringent characters from dark malts, but far from as strong as the previous porter I made. This time I used 500 grams of dark malts, chocolate malt and black malt, both debittered varieties. The beer has a distinct and somewhat sharp roastedness. The hops where pretty subdued, but balanced the malts nicely. This was a pretty clean and dry beer with the distinct character of darker malts. Would have been better with some more malt complexity.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

New fermentation buckets

New fermenters have been acquired. I ended up with four 32 liter fermentation buckets. They cost me 80 NOK each. I really had thought that I should get hold of the same kind of fermenters that I had earlier, but the LHBS did not have any. He didn't have any glass carboys either, so I had to do with these.

The buckets have markings going up to 27 liters, but by extrapolating I estimate that they will hold at least five more liters. The old carboys were only 28 liters. Given that I make 25 liters of wort at a time they did not have much head space. For vigorous fermentations that's certainly a bit tight. The recent weissbier and the imperial porter did both cause a big mess as the carboys overflowed. That has happened a lot of times earlier also.

This is the imperial porter. The weissbier was even more vigorous and I lost almost three liters of beer this way. With the new buckets I should be able avoid this, saving both beer and not having to clean up the mess.

The buckets should be easier to clean as they are much more accessible. With the old carboys I had to use a carboy brush, which worked reasonably well once I had soaked the carboys in washing soda (sodium carbonate) overnight. Given the better accessibility I would think that they would more easily pick up scratches. We'll see.

I have another five such buckets which I use to soak and clean equipment and bottles in. They have been treated pretty roughly, so they are full of scratches and cannot be used as fermentors. As you can see on the above photo I have marked the buckets so that I do not mix them up.

To be honest I really do want to upgrade to a couple of 55 liter Blichmann Fermenators, but because of space constraints I have to wait until I have somewhere to put them. There just isn't anywhere to place them in our current apartment. Someday maybe...