Friday, September 26, 2014

Falling Leaf Brown

It's Fall on Cape Cod and I am a seasonal for a little change of pace.  A few years ago I brewed my first English Brown Ale (mostly a Southern).  I left on a trip and had left the window open just enough to allow the temp in the "fermentation chamber," aka, my extra bedroom, to stay in the low 60's...But...I neglected to tell my significant other, the significance, of the partially opened window.  When I returned home I found my brew not only at 72 plus degrees,, but all over my ceiling!  Bomb!

Of course, my mind turns directly to the question, "Is my beer ruined," answer, Nope.  The more i  brew the more i come to realize just how hard it is to infect a beer.  You may not be able to use more than 3 pitches of yeast before your contamination load becomes too great, but an initial pitch will out compete most bacterial levels you'll encounter...Even if there was no airlock on the fermenter for 4 days.  Keep in mind that once the brew starts fermenting it is spitting out CO2, conversely nothing is actually able to "get into" the fermenter.

As an aside, it is worth noting here that airlocks are more novel than anything else.  They, of course, serve a very important purpose, and are very functional when letting a beer sit for extended periods, but in the short term remember this, bacteria, bugs, yeast, it all travels on dust.  Dust, does not travel, "up," unless it is being carried on a breeze.  It will only travel down, with gravity.  This is one reason that when working with your yeasts, it is best to do so in a room where the air is still.

OK, enough side notes, its beer time.

This brew is based on the "next batch" notes from the Brown I brewed a few years back.  It was a top five beer and all I really wanted to see was a change in the Chocolate character from mellow to more bitter and forward with the deletion of Pale Chocolate and addition of Chocolate malt.  

Brew day: 9/27/14
Brewed with Eric

OG - 1052
FG - 1008
Mash Eff - 62%
SRM - 22
ABV - 5.8%

10lbs - Maris
12oz - C40
12oz - Victory
6oz - Chocolate
4oz - C120

Northern Brewer - .4oz - 15IBUs (60)
Yeast - WLP 007 - Dry English Ale

Mash 160/60

Pitch temp - (70) - I did a 500ml warm-up of the yeast for 24 hours - intermittent shaking.  Excellent start and rigorous action throughout. Peak temp 77.

Tasting Notes

10/19/14 Initial tasting - over carbonated leading to a thinner mouthfeel than desired.  Plus, as a brew few she needs some time on gas to let final carb settle in and for nucleation sites to settle out.  I think she'll catch her rhythm around 6-8 weeks. I should bottle some just to be sure I don't run her dry before that!  

She has a beautiful deep deep brown, off white head lasts beyond the pour.  Lightly malty aroma, slight fruit water apparent.  Just have to bring around that mouthfeel.

Initial impression is the chocolate malt substitution detracted from prior brew.  The pale chocolate seems to allow the "smaller beer" to enjoy the chocolate notes without an disguise from the bitter aspect of the chocolate's a dry bitterness, where I enjoy the more rounded chocolate charcter of the pale chocolate.  

10/24/14 - starting to round out a little.  

Tasting notes - 10/25/14
A - Deep deep brown.  Off white head.  Right bubbles. Retention holds throughout majority of pour 
S - no hop, minimal esters. Slight malt scent.  Not exciting.
T - very thin and dry...too dry....malt balance.  A slight tang on back and sides of the tongue.  Chocolate barely conceivable. Caramel lost to dryness. Just too thin.
M - medium
O - to far attenuated.  Yeast pits off few to no esters in this profile.  Chocolates bitterness seems to have balanced out the caramel sweetness leaving a balanced brown ale with little character.   This beer did well to build up the yeast for the Barleywine.

If using this yeast you need to build more mouthfeel through oats, a higher percentage of crystal and a cooler fermentation. 

Next brew.  Wouldn't hurt to have flaked oats in this grist. Change the yeast, increase % of crystal and go back to pale chocolate.  

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