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.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Near-Death Experience

It had to happen sooner or later. If you make beer, you inevitably handle large glass vessels with wet hands. So I was rinsing the bleach out of a carboy and the sucker slipped out of my hands. It shattered fairly violently. I was, conveniently enough, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. No shoes. No socks. I feel supremely lucky to have escaped with one nasty cut on my shin and several minor nicks. I could very easily still be in the emergency room. I could have serious lacerations anywhere, severed tendons or ligaments in forearms, feet, wrists, hands... These are big hunks of glass and they could really fuck you up.

I was brewing a hoppy Belgian-style beer inspired (at the last minute) by Orval. I couldn't get a concept in my head and consulted with other brewers (Jeremiah and Randy), but somehow nothing clicked with me. I just knew I was using Roeslare yeast (as one was accidentally smacked) and that I wanted a relatively hoppy pale ale. Roeslare is probably more interesting than the combination of Bastogne and Brett. I'm leaning away from stale, Euro hops and more toward fresher, more vivacious, cheaper U.S. hops. So I took the stats for Orval (1055; around 38 IBU) plus the orange color (Carvienna?) and then I hammered it with Crystal, Mt. Hood, and Sterling. It kind of has to be good. At any rate, I'm hopeful. My next-door neighbor, Andrew, rescued me by providing a clean carboy when I went and wrecked things by exploding mine.

I'm drinkin' a Smuttynose Wheat Wine. Pretty interesting beer. Lovely, fat malt character, but peculiarly light somehow (the wheat I guess...). Not all that hoppy really. Given the psychotically hoppy Smuttynose Imperial Stout I tasted recently, I expected a little more hop aroma. Very slightly tart (the wheat again). Luminous orangey color. Honey, nuts, butter, and apricots. Once you orient yourself toward the aromatic profile, the subtler hop aroma feels highly appropriate. Heady, but not overbearing alcohol character. Yummy. Very yummy.

I think I will handle carboys differently now. There's no reason (there's no FUCKING REASON!!) why I couldn't just lay out a rag towel and rinse the carboy by rolling rather than shaking. Just right there I cut the likelihood of serious injury by a lot, so to speak...

We'll see how the new generation of brews turn out. I discovered recently that I have been diluting my iodophor solutions too much for my entire brewing career. This explains a small rash of spoiled batches recently. The microbes have caught up to me, but I am attempting to defeat them by switching to Star-San and scrubbing more thoroughly. An Old British Porter and this hoppy Belgian are in carboy in the Post-Overly-Diluted-Iodophor era. We'll see if I can recoup and also post to this stupid blog a little more.


Anonymous CP said...

Yikes! Carful with those glass shards; they hurt.

I have to carry full carboys down 1 flight of stairs every time I brew. Usually 2 of them. I hate it. I'm seriously thinking about getting one of those carboy strap carrying gizmos.

Makes a man want to use plastic buckets.


12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use milk crates. and mostly buckets. - you can harvest fresh yeast easier with the buckets -
- some thoughs about the buckets vs glass.


11:10 AM  
Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said...

Holy crap! That could've been bad.

I have a 3-part sanitization method that works pretty well. PBW, then citric acid, they hydrogen peroxide & water soak. The hydrogen peroxide leaves no residue.
It may be overboard, but it works every time.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the citric is enough with your process, Ben? I would guess that or star-san would neutralize the alkili, maybe? - no doubt, it could have been far far worse.


4:50 PM  

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