Tag Archives: old churches

Old Churches 5; the drinkening

Experiment 10011 complete

Experiment 10011 complete

So I gave Old Churches about 2+ weeks in the bottles before finalizing my opinions of it.

The down side; the carbonation almost didn’t take. It’s consistent, yes, lasting all the way through the pint but frequently it’s thin, almost anemic in its foam producing qualities. This is a bummer, because this beer is a bit aggressive with the coffee flavor. Some effervescence helps to take it down a notch-when it’s present. Since sometimes it is, and sometimes is isn’t I’m a bit lacking on the repeatability part. On the plus side, I have gotten some advice that might prevent this problem in the future, so I’ll try it with the next beer I make.

That said, this beer is different. It is a brown, and has a lot of the coffee influences of a brown, but it’s highly alcoholic and isn’t clear at all. I figure that the cloudiness is due to the combination of yeasts I used in this beer, so that doesn’t worry me. The flavors don’t seem to betray any kind of infection and I did forget the Irish Moss which might’ve helped with the clarity, but since the taste doesn’t seem to be impacted I look at this more as a distinctive quality instead of a negative one.

The nose has coffee and how much you like that probably depends on your love of coffee. However, the taste is all coffee; front and back stand up like some oiled Russian wrestler: I AM COFFEE!

Somewhere in the middle of this is a banana flavor. I know, it’s like: wait, WHAT? with a little eyebrow arch on the side, but there it is; coffee – banana – coffee. Because the effervescence is low in this beer, I can really keep it in my mouth and roll it on my tongue for a little bit and get a vibe for the flavors. Good because I can eek some truth from this beer, but bad because I am left with a coffee taste that sidles its way into the corners of my mouth, right above the back teeth, and that can get very bitter very fast. But the banana slides in between like a ballerina, and keeps the beer from going off the rails, which I’m very grateful for.

What makes this really, really interesting is that it’s meant to be drank warm. As in; nearly room temperature warm. All the sharp flavors I’m describing only seem to exist when the beer is cold. If I put a room temperature beer in a glass from the freezer, and let it sit for three minutes, the whole experience becomes a smooth one; the coffee flavors are lighter, the banana is nearly unnoticable, and the sharp finish doesn’t exist at all. I’m really surprised at how different the experience is.

So I call the experiment a success. Good beer, well drank, and good to share. Plus; it’s strong. Really strong. Hard to complain when it comes out decent and has a pleasant mind effect. I thank Impy for the suggestion, and hope she gets to drink some in the future.

Old Churces 4, the bottling

in raw format


It’s been two weeks or so since I put Old Churches into secondary, and it was time to move it into bottles. I wanted to bottle this before the yeast went completely dormant, because I seem to have a perpetual issue with brewing beer that isn’t effervescent. There are supposed to be bubbles, damnit! At least some bubbles, anyway.

The process for putting Old Churches into bottles is pretty simple; first sanitize the bottles, bottlecaps, and syphon in a solution of iodophor. I ususally do this about 24 hours beforehand so these things can dry out and I don’t get sanitizer flavor in my beer.

Then I boil two cups of water, adding 3/4 cup of sugar and let that go for about five minutes to sanitize the solution. I’m told this is the process for making a simple syrup, though I’ve never seen it refered to as such in the brewing recipes I’ve seen. After I let the syrup cool I added it into the wort, and let it sit for about five minutes. This step is new; in the past I’ve just stirred the syrup into the wort and started filling bottles. I let it sit this time in the hopes that the sugars will be more evenly dispersed throughout the beer, so the yeast will be active in all of them.

Then I inserted the syphon, gave the wort a little stir and then I set to filling the bottles.

This took about twenty minutes. As I filled the bottles, I put caps on them, so the oxygen in the top could be pushed out as the beer generated CO2.  I don’t know that that happens, I read that it was a good idea, so why not? It’s a little tricky to manage this by myself, but I usually get it done. Because I didn’t have enough regular bottles I used a couple growlers too. The up side; about three people get two beers each per growler. The down side; once I open a growler, I pretty much have to make sure the whole thing gets drank otherwise the beer goes flat. And flat beer going flatter is not good.

Although it’s not quite a punishment, having to drink a lot of beer.

One other drawback is that I had more beer than bottles for it. Now because sometimes I’m too clever for my own good, I tried to use this opportunity to fill a large mug to get a hydrometer reading for the terminal gravity. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough beer for that; my hydrometer sank right to the bottom of the glass and bounced.  There’s a better way to do this, I’m sure, but I haven’t put resources to solving this problem yet. Which is another way of saying I’m lazy, but what the hell.

I didn’t have anything else to do with this beer except drink it, so I did. The coffee flavors were strong but not too bitter, and the yeast gave this beer a density that brown ales just don’t have. The mouthfeel was thicker than what a brown ale ought to be, and the beer finished off with a note of banana. Which seemed pretty unusual, but quite tasty after the strong coffee start.

Now all I have to do is wait a week and see what comes out. It might take two weeks for things to really come together, but I’ll likely give it a taste in seven days to see what my initial impressions are. Or, uh, second initial impressions.

Old Churches 3, Secondary

I put the Old Churches wort into secondary yesterday:

Beers get put into secondary fermentation for a few reasons, but the biggest one is to remove the wort from the dead yeast and other detritus that has dropped out of the beer, so the flavors from that don’t get into the beer. It also makes for a brighter, clearer beer visually, because when I go to bottle a lot of the debris that might’ve mixed in with the beer won’t be there.

I also added one ounce of UK Kent Golding hops. (They’re the little green  bricks you see in the lower right of the brew.) The scent on this was really, really unusual; almost candy sweet. No trace of bitterness in this beer. I’m thinking I’ll leave it in secondary for as long as I can. The beer is still brewing-or at least, the yeast is till working. If it spends another 3 weeks in secondary, I think I’m ok with that. My gut tells me this beer is a ways from being done.

Update: the fermentation has slowed pretty significantly, even after a day away. I wonder if it was wise to put this beer into secondary while it was still had obvious signs of life. Patience is often the virtue of the brewer, and I may not have been very virtuous. I fear not, however! It still smells good, and that’s a hell of a lot better than it smelling bad.

Old Churches 3; the day after

Holy crap this beer took off like I’ve never seen before.

What isn’t being conveyed is the rate of fermentation; this thing is bubbling like an overactive steroid in Dr Frankenstein’s lab. It’s so intense, the water in the airlock is almost percolating over, and it’s kind of freaking me out. But it’s active, so that’s awesome!

And that’ll probably be the last post on this for about a month. Patience!

Old Churches, pt 2: Brew day

This starts the day before actually, when I transfered a pale ale into secondary and then cleaned and sanitized the primary carboy for use. This process isn’t that exciting, but I took pictures anyway.

Anyway, after sanitizing all the equipment, I set it aside until yesterday, when I actually brewed the beer.

Start with:
Carapils Dextrin Malt-1.25lb
Chocolate Malt (british)–.5lb
British Brown Malt-1.25lb
all steeped at about 125 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Then I added 6 pounds of Light Malt Extract, one pound of Wheat Malt Extract, and two pounds of Extra Light Malt Extract, while bringing it up to about 170. Malt extract takes a bit of time to dissolve when you’re adding 8 pounds of it.

But then the boil gets started, and as with all other brews I’ve seen, you start at the end number and count backwards. So at 60 minutes left in the boil, I added 1.5oz of Cluster hops. 1oz of Chinook at 30 minutes, 0.5 oz of UK Kent Golding hops and 1/4 cup of agave nectar at 15 minutes, and then at 0 minutes 0.5 oz of Cascade hops. -5 minutes into the boil, I took it off…(I went a little over. It happens.)

Unfortunately, I did a few very silly things at this point. Well one; I forgot to get the original gravity reading. So there will be no way for me to tell how alcoholic this beer is, aside from the whole ‘drinking it’ option of course. But this is what it looked like then:

About 2 hours later I pitched the yeast; White Labs 530 and 550, at about 78 degrees. Should know in about a day if the yeast takes and actually starts brewing.

Old Churches, the adventure begins

This adventure starts off probably a month or more back, while talking to Impy. The phrase, “Old Church–that would be a great name for a beer!” was said, and away we went, wondering what it would be like. My premise was that it would be a brown ale, with belgian yeast; dense and seeped in old tradition. She liked the idea, so I ran with it, looking at brown and belgian ales in an attempt to see where they could be co-mingled.

Then of course I actually had to get the materials, and in true homebrewer fashion, not everything was there so I had to fake it.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:
White Labs yeast 530
White Labs yeast 550 (the yeast was supposed to be 515 in both cases)
2oz Kent Golding hops (for finishing; the aroma is so nice)
2oz Cascade hops (bittering)
Light Malt Extract-6lb
Extra Light Malt Extract-2lb (supposed to be 2 more pounds of LME)
Carapils Dextrin Malt-1.25lb -seeping malts
Chocolate Malt (british)–.5lb-seeping malts
British Brown Malt-1.25lb-seeping malts (supposed to be Crystal)

There’s a few exciting things going on here. First, I’m trying out  a recipe with two different yeasts in it. I’ve never done that before and I’m interested in how it’ll come out. What I’ve read about these yeasts is that they produce more alcohol, so the beer will be less malty. However, since I’m seeping a much darker malt with more sugars in it than is called for, and I plan on adding maybe 1 cup of organic sugar to this, I’m thinking that it should all turn out OK. These yeasts are supposed to give a spicier flavor instead of the sweeter kind that frequents most belgian ales; all I can do is run with it and see what happens.

Then there’s the malt. When I took a sniff of the crystal malt, I thought it was OK. Biscuity, but alright. The Brown malt, however, said to me; I’m a brown ale malt, pick me! with it’s rich undertones of crispened sugars.
How could I resist?

I was also mightily tempted by the presence of Pacman yeast, which is what Rogue uses in all their beers and I’ve had great success with. I bought a couple packs, just because.  I’ll use them in the next beer however because Pacman yeast is a bitch to acquire but goes with almost everything. At least everything Rogue does. And I’ve already got the belgain yeast, so I want to put that to use.