Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My beer woke me up

So, yeah, my Trappist Singel woke me up at 2:30 in the morning. When I came up the stairs to go to bed, I could already smell it fermenting on the landing: the beer was blasting out these slightly pungent estery aromas I can't put my finger on. I think I smell a mixture of odd tropical fruits and donuts frying. Or green tea mochi or something. They're funky-ass aromatics, so I got worried (my first mistake) and figured that it was fermenting too hot. Not wanting to drag it downstairs (which would be kind of a temperature shock anyway) I picked it up and plunked it down in the closet, which is 5-7 degrees cooler than the room. No problems--off to sleep, right?

No. I dozed off but started hearing these kinda funky wheezing, whistley sounds. I thought they were coming from outside, but eventually had to investigate. Now this was not an over-filled carboy. It's a 6.5 gallon carboy plus headspace and it only had 5.5 gallons in it. And the krausen, when I moved it into the closet, was only a couple inches high. Apparently moving it freaked it out because the krausen quadupled in size and was invading the airlock and filling it with pulsating, wheezing, escaping foam.

I went downstairs to get a little sanitizing solution so I could clean and rebuild but on the way up the stairs I heard a snap and then a rattle--this was the airlock lid and little floaty thing shooting off. I crawled around the closet locating parts and started trying to sanitize the airlock. But seeing as how the krausen was merrily blorping out the top of the carboy an emergency blow-off tube was the only option. My only blow-off tube is on my suspicious smoke beer and I was afraid to switch it for fear of contamination--I would have had to scrub it and soak it for quite a while to be happy. So I took a chunk of siphoning hose and tried to wedge it over the airlock stem, which required slitting the hose since it wasn't really big enough. This was forming an inadequate seal too. But it was the only option and I finally managed to make it basically work after a few tries. Once I had a seal, the beer started bubbling into a tupperware pitcher in a "blorp, blorp, blorp, BFOUFH, gurggle-blorp" kind of way and moving foam through the tube with some vigor. In case it decided to explode I loosened the bung just a little and then tried to go to sleep despite the bizarre, febrile rumbling coming from the closet. Is this what having a baby is like?


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