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Dusseldorf Alt Winter 2016

February 22, 2016

Brew Day (2/21/2016)

Cooldown:

< 100 F: 5:00
< 80 F: ~7:30
<70 F:  ~10:00
Stop @57 F:  15:00

Pre boil: 1.041 (11 Brix)
Original gravity: 1.048

 

Fermentation

I didn’t expect to get the wort as cool as I did after the boil.  Instead, I expected to have to leave it overnight in the keezer to get down to ~60 F so I didn’t pitch the starter until after brewing (technically I pitched while I waited for trub to settle after cooldown.  Unfortunately, overnight the starter didn’t get too much going.  I woke up to find that the stir bar had been thrown so there was no agitation.  I expected a good head to show up once I got it started as the dissolved CO2 from the starter was agitated and released, but instead it stayed completely still.  It was nice and milky as expected, just not as much (any) CO2 as expected.

After pitching, the beer itself got to a slow start.  Remember previous brews that were pretty vigorous, I set up a blowoff tube first thing.  By the end of the first day (evening after brew day), nothing was really evident.  It wasn’t until the next morning (Tuesday morning after a Sunday brew day) that the blowoff tube started bubbling in the sanitizer.  By the end of that day, I good looking krausen had formed that fell overnight (I can’t remember for sure when it happened) and the beer ended up looking like a puddle of mud (with tiny bubbles apparent if you looked closely).

Tried to keep beer between 60 and 62 but during more active first couple of days, it coasted up to ~63 max (by thermometer in bubble wrap insulation).  Afterward, it fell down to ~60.  Throughout, I tweaked the keezer temperature control to keep it where I wanted.

By Thursday afternoon (~3.5 days after pitching) the blowoff tube was no longer very active and I took my first sample:

~3.5 days after pitching:  1.012. Still lots of yeast in suspension.  Good bit of carbonation (expected with the low fermentation temperature).  Licorice aroma.  Pretty dry, firm bitterness.

~10 days: Still 1.012. Still lots of yeast in suspension. Still firm bitterness.

Impressions

Mostly through the batch.  Been on-tap for the last few weeks and, while it’s been serviceable, it hasn’t been what I was hoping.  There was certainly something wrong, and I think it’s largely a combination of too low OG skewing the malt:bitterness to the bitterness and some yeast health issues that left out some character.

Overall, it really reminds me of a brown ale I brewed way back in my early days in Madison.  The fermentation started really sluggish and, while I didn’t get the brain-like krausen, it was just kind of weak.  Such a weak fermentation is really out of character for this beer, even keeping the temperature low.

Other than the brown ale, it’s also similar to my first – and so far only – try at a mild.  It’s pretty highly carbonated, leading to a bit of a carbonic bite.  Little body and really a macro-beer-like flavor:  bland, though certainly firmer bitterness.

Color is brown-amber and pretty clear.  Good head.

Note: After writing up these impressions, I went back and read about my Mild and Brown and I was surprised how I’d written that my Mild had reminded me of my Brown.  It would seem that maybe these 3 brews had something in common that it would be nice to avoid in the future.  I’m chalking it up to poor yeast health.

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