Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Secondary Disappointment

Last weekend marked the start of the XXI Winter Olympics. More importantly it marked the start of secondary fermentation. Basically secondary fermentation is the transfer of beer from the primary fermentation bucket to another fermentation vessel. This process is debated a lot between home brewers, some don't feel it's necessary. This is another matter I have yet to find a good reason behind. Transferring the beer helps aid in clarification and to settle out by-products no longer needed. Some may say this runs a greater risk of infection while transferring. That may be true however I don't see it being a very big risk.

During this process I finally got to measure my terminal gravity and taste my beer. This is where everything goes wrong. My gravity reading came in at 1.024 which is high for this type of beer this late in the process. Typically IPAs have a final gravity between 1.01 and 1.016, I am pretty far from that. Granted my yeast is still working hard, it appears I may fall short of that final gravity. I may have made an IPA that is pretty low in alcohol content, hard to say though since I fucked up the original gravity reading. I plan on checking my gravity tomorrow and then again Friday to see if leveled off. If a gravity reading stays consistent for two days then you know you're good to bottle. Only time will tell if I made the Odell's of home brew.

The big disappointment was in the taste of the brew. For starters the beer is pretty cloudy at this point. The Irish Moss I had added during the boiling was suppose help with this. It's suppose to clear up over time but the shit looks like Cloud City. While sipping the brew I thought Lando might pop up and blast my ass. The smell screamed malt, the crystal malt was the most apparent. The last minute addition of Cascade was suppose bring the beer in the IPA aroma realm, unfortunately this isn't the case. As soon as the beer hit my tongue I got a sweet note the was quickly spooned to death by bitterness. The bitterness quickly subsides and just leads to a mellow and watery flavor. Granted the beer is far from done, this was not as I expected. Carbonation really brings beers into a whole new world, I hope the same happens with this.

Now since I have made this batch I have picked up on a couple things I need to change in the future. The bitterness the brew possessed was because of my hop additions. Generally hops added at the start of the boil are only added for the bitterness quality. Most larger brewers use hop pellets for this very reason, then fresh hops at the end. For IPAs and other hopper ales and lagers hops are added in great bulk for the last 10-15 minutes of the boil. The longer hops boil the more resin released and the more bitterness the wort will posses. Hops boiled with in this magic window of 10-15 minutes will impart bitterness but not to the same extent. As a result I have dry hopped my beer with two ounces of hop pellets. I added an ounce of Centennial to start give a nice citrus quality. After I researched the bitterness I added an ounce of Chinook to balance the citrus with a subtle pine quality. Dry hopping doesn't add a lot of flavor but it helps, the aroma from the Chinook and Centennial will be more apparent then anything.

This being said I hope I can bottle the brew this weekend for the arrival of Joey, or at the very least give him some to take back to DC. This weekend I am going to start batch deuce, more than likely a Brown Ale! Congratulations you've made it through my grammar landmines, you won't be so lucky next time.


Johnny Barleycorn said...

Cooooooool, but if the yeast has more work to do, shouldn't you just let it go until it reaches the desired final gravity instead of pushing it to the second fermentation?

Who knows...

Lunchbox said...

the yeast is still doing its thing, secondary fermentation removes dead yeast cultures. the ones that are alive are still rocking.