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, May 17, 2005

Saison fermenting

Meant to run through my Saison brewing from Sunday. It was an interesting brew day as the large burner on my stove began malfunctioning in a way that seemed dangerous and I had to brew on the little burners only. This added like 2 hours to the brew time and I started late anyway--ultimately didn't get cleaned up and off to bed until 3 a.m. The beer was fermenting vigorously by morning, which is good, but it's since died down and I'm using a space heater and some swirling around to try and kick it up a notch again. This is a spastic Saison Yeast (White Labs 565) which likes to ferment around 90 degrees and which is prone to fits and starts. I hope fervently that it'll have a quick primary so I can get it off the trub before I leave for CA.

I've got to get a firmer handle on my brewing efficiency. This was intended to be a six-gallon batch at 1054 and I got more like 6.5 at 1059. A rough Promash calculation would suggest that that's about 88% efficiency. But I'm not always -that- efficient. The annoying thing is that this results in some crazy gravity juggling and diluting and boiling and so on to try and hit a target. And in this case I'm sure the beer will turn out fine, but I really wanted it to be just a tad lighter. That discrepancy will probably only result in perhaps .4% more alcohol, but I try to be precise. Anyway, I gave it just a teeny bit more finishing hops to compensate when I saw that it was just going to be bigger no matter what I did (short of pouring out wort and adding water, or filling the carboy into the neck, which I prefer to avoid. . .).

In other random notes, we had our party which was a smashing success. Randy, the local brewing guru, was really impressed with my beers, which flattered me greatly. Before I forget to record this somewhere else, he told me not to bother with Wyeast 1214, but that I would love 1968 for my British ales. The kegged bitter (crisp, minerally, tea-ish) was a hit, as was the pale ale (the malty one with the Smuttynose grain bill). The initiates loved my super-hoppy Chinook IPA. And the new Oatmeal Stout went over well. Though it was conceded that most of the Belgians are a little young, they met with considerable praise. Randy seemed to prefer the Dubbel which he thought tasted really Belgian and not-un-Westmalley. He suggests I build a walk-in cooler (not likely at the moment) and brew more so as to prevent myself from drinking my more age-worthy beers. I may do just a little extra brewing in early July for that reason. Perhaps if I buy a couple kegs and do a couple of nice, light, quick maturing ales, I can also brew some Belgians and bigger British beers and stash them while a special bitter or a wheat beer distracts me.


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