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Christmas ESB

December 24, 2011

Now that I’ve got some free time, decent brewing weather, and a hankering to brew; I’m going to try to get all my fermentors full (2 empty right now).  As a quick throw-together (I didn’t expect to go to the brew shop today, I’m reproducing my go-to ESB with a little higher OG, less bittering hops (for my own preference), and an aroma addition (based on judge comments from my 10-gal batch).


BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (12/27/11)

Pretty smooth brew day.  I actually finished before it got dark and I had to share the garage with the squirrels.  I actually met one of the tenants this morning when I opened the garage.  It wasn’t until my second trip with equipment before he got the idea that he should leave for the afternoon.

I ended up maybe just a hair high on my pre-boil volume; ended up right on on my final volume (meaning I finally had the correct boil off rate for once); and ended up about 20 points high on the OG.  Making a recipe targeting 65% efficiency as usual with my new 6.25 gallon batch size gave me  a little confidence that I’ve got the right approach (as far as the batch size) because the 85% efficiency from this is about in line with my other brews (when compensated for batch size).  I think it’s probably safe to bump my expected efficiency up 5 – 10% next time, but still shoot for the low end of the OG range so it has room for a better efficiency.

Now I have the problem of – if this beer turns out good – how would I enter it in competition?  I imagine there’s a special category that would accommodate an over-gravity ESB, but I’d rather it competed as an ESB to get style feedback.  Of course, that relies on it being a good beer.  In order for that, I’m going to have to make sure it ferments on the cool side and hope that doesn’t screw up the ester formation too much.  I think I’ll shoot for 65 F.  I was able to pitch at about that temperature today and put the fermentor in the rubbermaid with water at 64.5 F.

  • Overfilled => needed blow off tube


  • Fermentor in Rubbermaid at 64.4 F
  • Bubbles began forming before bed (~8 hours after pitching).
  • Added foam control (10 drops)
  • Vigorous bubbling and krausen by morning (~17 hours after pitching).
  • Added more foam control (8 or 9 drops) – apparently it’s not doing any good for this.  It knocked the foam down for a while, but it came back up.  It worked in a previous brew (I forget which).  Not sure why it’s not this time.
  • Temperature staying right near 64.4 F (as high as 64.9 and as low as 62.8 after adding some ice)

Fermentation stayed steady at 64.5 F for about 12 days (with a few relatively quick excursions down to 63 and up to 65).  After that, I left town and set the thermostat to 50 F for 7 days.  When I got back, the water in the cooler was 53 F, so over 7 days, it gradually drifted down to this.  I’m not sure if 53 was a steady state temperature (the thermostat kicks on at 50 so the average might be in the 53 range) or if it was still cooling, so it’s hard to know how much time it spent at 53.

First Impressions

At kegging:  alcohol and caramel sweetness dominate the aroma.  Flavor is more of the same with a very smooth alcohol warming.  Having recently gone to Hair of the Dog, it reminds me a bit of Fred.  Maybe I’ll ask a couple of people to taste it to let me know if it might pass for something other than ESB ’cause it’s too high alcohol and doesn’t have the hop bitterness, flavor, or aroma to compete well as an ESB.  Overall, drinking a warm, flat version of this is really good.  I’m excited to experience it when it’s a bit cooler and more carbonated.

Kegging Woes

As happened with my last Brown Ale, I apparently had a leak in the beer line that dumped all of this beer into the keezer (unlike the ~2 gallons or so from the Brown Ale).  I was pretty distraught to say the least.   Despite the risk of grossing some people out, I kegged it back up and have continued to drink it.  I obviously won’t bottle it to keep any around and I’m not going to offer it to anyone else, though.  To justify myself, the last time I had cleaned the keezer, I used a towel soaked in StarSan.  Since that time, I hadn’t spilled anything in there (especially not DampRid like I had before).  Also, I did have a DampRid bucket in there the whole time, so it was pretty dry most of the time, especially at the bottom (moisture tends to just form around the top).  And there really isn’t much of a rust issue in there.  There is a bit, but – apparently – some people use rusty silverware and they seem to be doing alright (I did a quick Google search on the dangers of ingesting rust).  So, all in all, I don’t think the inside of the keezer was too gross to begin with.

Last time, I learned to always keep a water-tight beer line connected to the disconnect since one of my kegs tends to leak out of one of the poppets (something I should obviously fix).  This time I had the faucet connected (I was drinking the beer after all) and what I found out later was that the nut that connects the line to the disconnect had loosened.  So, I guess I need to be more diligent about making sure everything is tight whenever I mess around with a keg.  I’m also wondering if there’s some way I can put a liner in the bottom that I can keep the kegs in.  It’s already a tight squeeze in there, so it would have to fit pretty tightly.  i wonder if there’s some sort of material you can spray or paint in that wouldn’t stick to the sides so you could remove it.  It would have to be pretty strong, though to support the weight of up to 5 gallons of beer (~40 lbs.).


From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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