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Spring ESB

April 14, 2013

After a long, cold winter and too much work to be able to brew the first few good weekends, I’m ready to get some brewing in.  While it feels like a broken record to brew an ESB, the fact is, I haven’t brewed one since last June.  Since that particular brew sounds like it went pretty well (I have to go on my notes, because I’ve completely forgotten), I’m going to brew it again with some additional dark malts – as I suggested.

Notably, I will replace the CaCl2 pre-boil to precipitate the CaCO3 with a slaked lime treatment.  In order to get a large volume of pre-treated water, I plan on performing this with my keggle the night prior by adding 15 g (1 g per gallon) slaked lime and 8 g (0.5 g per gallon) CaCl2.  This leads to – per Brewer’s Friend’s advanced water calculator – the need to add 6 g Gypsum to the mash to balance Cl and SO4.

Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (5/5/13)

Smooth brew day with some nice weather.  Ended up almost right on target with OG at 1.061 (recipe was for 1.060).  Clearly my silicone tubing from the MLT to the kettle was the cause of my slow lauters before, because today with a continuous stretch (as opposed to combining two together previously) the lauter was as fast as I wanted it (finishing in ~30 minutes).  Cooldown worked really well, going from boiling to 62 F in 16 minutes.

Ran off to 2 Better Bottles.  Oxygenated each for 1 minute (though the second, smaller fermenter finished off the cannister so it might not have gotten the same rate for the minute).  Pitched the yeast at 3:00.

Fermentation

I placed the 6-gallon Better Bottle in the Rubbermaid with water at 68 F.  In order to get some good ester character without hot alcohol, I’m going to try to stick to 68 F for the duration.  The second, smaller fermenter I’m leaving out with a towel around it to keep out light.  Hopefully withe outside temperatures in the 70s this week, it will keep a good temperature, too.

Impressions

I’m spending the summer in Austin, TX this year, so it turned out that this was my one and only brew to take with me.  By the time I bottled for the trip, I only had about 2 gallons of the first keg left and the second carboy (which had been sitting in the Rubbermaid the whole time, IIRC) was untouched.  I wish I could remember how fermentation went, but it’s been almost 2 months now, and I don’t recall.  Must not have been very remarkable.

The remaining 2 gallons of the carbonated keg were bottled with the Beer Gun successfully and I don’t have a lot I can say about them.  I remember being pretty ‘meh’ about it at the time, but not necessarily disappointed.

As for the other bottles from the carboy, I have some I can say.  I transferred the carboy to a keg, on top of ~1 L of wort that I saved from brew day in the freezer (aka, gyle).  From there, under a bit of pressure, I filled the bottles with the Beer Gun.  A couple days later, I began my move to Texas so I packed up all the bottles in various containers (I have a case of re-usable Point Brewery bottles with case that constituted about half of them) and put them in the back of my truck (newly covered with a slightly mismatched truck topper) along with most of the rest of my family’s belongings that we were bringing with us.  Over the 4-day trip, I assume the bottles conditioned in widely varying temperatures (as you can imagine on a trip from Wisconsin to Texas in late May).  Once in Texas, I chilled my bottles from the carbonated keg and drank them first.  It wasn’t until probably late the 1st or early the 2nd week that I got to the bottle conditioned batch.  While I don’t recall any particular issues initially, by the time the bottles were fully carbonated, it was clear that they were over carbonated.  Simply opening the bottle resulted in a foam over if left too long.  Eventually I learned to open the bottle, poor into a glass, and let sit for a bit to “breath” while leaving the bottle out uncapped.  Between the over carbonation and over chilling of my refrigerator, after several minutes the beer ends up at about the right temperature and a better carbonation level to drink.  While I think it still suffers from over carbonation, it’s much better.

After the warming and breathing process, the beer is overfull in the mouth due to remaining carbonation (I’m not that patient) and it’s cloudy.  The flavor – after the carbonic bite – is a bit of dark fruits and caramel, without the ester character I love and lacks any hop character, even in the finish.  The aroma – also lacking ester character – is a bit off, perhaps apple-y.  While acetaldehyde is the main culprit in such an aroma/taste, my poor sensory perception and the fact that it was in the carboy at room temperature (~68 F) for more than 2 weeks makes me think that’s not likely.  I do expect however that something went awry during the trip with the fluctuating temperatures.  Maybe “hope” is a better word not “expect,” because I’d like to believe a lackluster beer such as this is the fault of extenuating circumstances not something else (like my lack of brewing skill), because the rest of the process went pretty smoothly and was pretty well controlled.  Perhaps a re-brew when I get back to Wisconsin will help me decide which is the case.

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From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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