“Just ain’t destined to brew that one”

Recipe for the golden ale I’m trying to make:

Grains and malt:
1 lb Caramel 20 Malt, steeped at about 150 degrees for  thirty minutes
8 lb LME

Hops:
1 handful Sorachi Ace
1 oz Pearle @60
1 handful Pearle @15

Yeast; Wyeast 1084, 3rd use.

Now, this all seems OK until the tales of woe begin. The tales of woe go like this:

After steeping the grains for thirty minutes, I took the wort off the burner to pour in the malt extract. This was probably the smartest thing I did. When there’s less malt extract, or it’s powder, I frequently keep the pot on the burner and just stir like mad to keep the malt from sticking to the bottom and burning. This works out fine, but eight pounds of malt requires me to use two hands to pour it in, so I removed the pot from the heat.

While pouring the bucket of malt in, the handle broke and the whole thing fell into the wort, splashing hot water and ropy lines of malt everywhere. Luckily for me I didn’t get burned but now I have two problems. First; hot sticky mess everywhere. Second, and more importantly, there is a plastic bucket in my beer that may be melting even as I survey the mess.

I takes me perhaps just under a minute to get the utensils to decently grip the bucket and pull the bucket out of the hot water.  The bucket appears undamaged, which is good, but I have no idea how this might affect the beer. 

The rest of the process goes alright until I realize that the yeast I’ve been using, despite my notes, actually is on it’s 4th, not 3rd use. After three uses, I’m told the yeast starts to add off flavors to the beer. I wouldn’t be surprised if some brewers wanted some of those flavors, but I don’t know enough about brewing or yeast for that matter to desire this. 

It’s a little too late to go get new yeast at this point however, so onward and forward, right?

Well…yes, until it’s time to add the yeast. I kinda fucked that up. Most of the time, yeast should be added when the wort is in the low 80’s to the mid 70’s. This rule isn’t set in stone, but it is a pretty good one. 

I am pretty certain I cooled the wort to below 100 degrees, and then just added it in with some cold water to top the wort off to five gallons. Being generous about  the temp, I figure I pitched the yeast when the wort was in the mid-90’s. I really don’t have much of an excuse, except that my head just wasn’t in the game. 

The good news; the yeast took off like a bat out of hell. I could see little pieces of debris swirling in the beer, the airlock percolating like a hyperactive coffeemaker, all systems go.

The bad news; yeast fermenting at higher temperatures produce sweeter tasting alcohols. These flavors conflict with the other agents in the beer. When I put the beer into secondary yesterday, I got such a sweet aroma out of the fermenter that I’m pretty sure ‘cloying’ just won’t cover it. 

Describing the whole debacle to my Dad later, he said, “Well son, I guess you just ain’t destined to brew that beer.” I’m hard pressed to disagree, though I’m going to bottle it just the same. Who knows? If I give it a month, maybe it’ll mellow out.

2 thoughts on ““Just ain’t destined to brew that one””

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