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, June 18, 2007

Beer is a pain in the ass

So, I changed my mind on that saison. The whole jaggery thing felt too cutesy and I'd rather keep to the relatively low-gravity traditions of the style. I tasted one of my old saisons and liked it so much I borrowed the grain bill. 9 lbs pils, 1 lb wheat, 1/2 lb each biscuit malt and sugar. 1053. The old hop bill was very traditional, with English Kent and Styrian Goldings. This time I went with 32 IBU of zappy Perle hops for bittering, plus 1.5 oz each of Crystal and Mt. Hood at shut-off, which should give some really bright aromas that are like noble hops but, well, not quite. I did keep the grains of paradise because the Farmhouse yeast isn't peppery enough for my taste. 1 /2 tsp should give a subtle but noticeable little zip. We'll see.

Only problem is I had to mash the damn beer twice. I have two little dial thermometers. One somehow got to be almost 20 degrees off. I discovered this during a routine check; I don't think I brewed with it anywhere near that far off. Well, till today. I had set it aside to calibrate it. So I doughed in the mash for the saison at 145. 20 minutes later, while checking the temperature of my coffee brewing water, I realized my grievous error. I checked the mash, checked the thermometers, swore, and contemplated solutions. I HATE under-attenuated saisons. I was almost positive that I had more or less totally denatured the beta-amylase. (For you non-brewers, that's bad!) The idea of spending all day on what I feared would be mediocre at best was just too oppressive to continue with the same beer. I contemplated throwing in some crystal and shit and cobbling together "Accidental IPA," but, you know what? I HATE overly chunky IPA's too. I have no use for an all-alpha-amylase beer. So I started all over again. There goes 5 bucks worth of grain and, more importantly, an hour and a half.

Everything else went fine, except that I kept spilling constantly and zoning out and doing dumb things--including breaking my hydrometer. You know you've given yourself second-degree burns while brewing, when you think mashing twice and breaking your hydrometer still leaves you in the ballpark of a relatively good brew day.

To add further stress, the 3787 beer (much smoother process) is climbing out through the airlock. I should've done a blow-off tube. It -always- does that. I love that yeast though so, like, whatever. I think I just heard the airlock pop out. Better go check. Anyway, somehow, I have two new beers fermenting, plus a keg of pale ale and a keg of stout for my trouble.

The sad thing is that I'm thinking about doing one more tomorrow as long as my research project is frustrating me and I don't feel like doing yardwork...


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