2017-02-19 Brewer’s Journal

19 Feb

Another week spent puttering in my home brewery. Work focused on kegging, preparing the burton ale then tapping it along with putting the cream ale back on tap. I made an upgrade on the kegerator and am now focused on my next brew day in a week.

New Taps

I ran out to Maryland Homebrew to get supplies for my next brew day and for bottling my current beers. I opted to get some new faucets for my kegerator while I was there. The faucets that came with my setup are OK but not great. They appear to be a non-standard size so my growler filler doesn’t fit them. I have been filling growlers with my beer gun which works well enough but means I usually only fill growlers when I am also bottling. Or I end up bottling when I want to fill some growlers rather than when the beer is at its peak for bottling.

I have been reading good things about Intertap. The design is forward sealing meaning they are less likely to stick but that is a secondary benefit for me. These faucets have interchangeable nozzles, including one that has a hose barb making it effectively a growler filler. Now I can bottle when it makes the best sense and fill growlers whenever I want to.

For bottling, I popped for the ball lock disconnect nozzle. I don’t strictly need it since I can attach my beer gun directly to the liquid post on the kegs just fine. With this nozzle I don’t have to disconnect the beer lines to bottle. Skipping that step saves where and tear on the disconnects and minimizes some exposure to the beer. Attaching the beer gun to the faucet means I can keep the door of the kegerator closed so I am wasting less energy.

Burton Ale

I made the latest batch of my Burton ale back at the start of September last year. It has been aging in secondary since then. After I got back from the homebrew store, I sanitized a keg and the gear I would need to transfer the beer. The process went smoothly except for a little spilling from my new keg washer. I have only used it a few times so far. Dumping out the cleanser or sanitizer is still tricky, the basin fills close to the top and sloshes so easily.

The beer came out wonderfully bright and is carbonating away. All young beers taste a little strange, this one is no exception. My stout was smokey, the cream ale has a bit of dankness in the aroma. The point of conditioning them a week or two before sharing is to help those rough edges smooth away. This one has a bit of a polyphenol bit, almost medicinal, probably from the dry hopping. The beer is quite boozy, that may be amplifying those phenols. If I am right about the source, it will definitely settle down as it conditions.

I keg condition super cold mostly because I can. My kegerator will hit the freezing point of water on a good day. Most days, it can hold temperature at the bottom end of the forties. Everything I’ve read encourages conditioning nice and cold. That cold may be great for the beer in the first couple of weeks so that it is that much better at bottle and for all the rest of the time it is on top but appears to be no friend to the early taste. I have to remind myself to let the green beers warm a bit before judging them too harshly. When ice cold, often only the strongest flavors come through rather than a good representation of the draft at normal serving temperature.

Sensory Evaluation

I finally prepared the 2-row sample Danny at Dark Cloud gave me. Wow. First, the color was a rich gold while their 6-row was nearly transparent. I think this is the sweetest sample I’ve tasted using this wort preparation technique. It doesn’t have the same complexity as Maris Otter, the variety I’ve been using pretty consistently for the past couple of years yet it has a substantial flavor to back up all that sweetness. A little fresh corn and some light toast notes. I wonder if it has higher DMS precursors than usual, hence the corn I am getting. My kettle is a monster so DMS is little risk. I have to figure out where I want to use that wonderful sweetness in an upcoming recipe.

Maryland Common

Speaking of upcoming beer, I am all set for brew day this coming Saturday. I have all the ingredients and will make up a starter in a few days. The beer is based on a Kentucky common, a non-sour version. I have added to of my favorite malts, Briess Extra Special because it adds such a wonderful complexity and Briess Caramel Rye because it is one of the more subtle ways to add rye into a beer without overpowering everything else. This is my second beer with Dark Cloud’s 6-row so I am optimistic I will get great efficiency and a fantastic beer at the end.

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