I like very trying new beers. It’s no secret. But recently I had two beers, in a row, that I could not wrap my head around. Don’t misunderstand, these were not bad beers but beers that either fly over my head or I expected too much from.
The first beer is Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat. What is an urban wheat? I don’t know either. According to Beer Advocate it’s an American Pale Wheat Ale. Now APWA’s are a style I enjoy – In fact Bell’s Oberon is way up there on my list – but I just could not figure out the beers concept. First off, it’s a very light APWA and clearer than I’d expect. The aroma was very faint grassy and maybe slight lemon. The taste was wheat and an extremely faint hint of lemon. Both fade away to a water like taste after a few sips reminiscent of a cheap light lager. Mouth feel was light carbonation and supper thin. It was after roughly an eighth if the pint I said enough and drained it. It was almost like a cream ale but with wheat malt. Not close to what I want out of an APWA. As a side note I learned that Goose Island is owned by a very large company with a poor reputation with craft beer lovers …
The second beer was from another of my beloved styles: the dubbel. I’ve enjoyed St. Bernardus Pater 6, Chimay Rouge and the Westmalle Trappist Dubbel and I I walk by Petrus bottles every time I’m in the Belgian isle. It was time to try Brouwerij Bavik’s take on the dubbel. After pouring into a goblet I noticed quickly the low carbonation. There was some very minor white off lacing but it didn’t look anything like what I expected. The aroma was carmel, brown sugar and spices. The taste initially was dominated by sweetness followed by an RC Cola like flavor. After that I couldn’t shake that, not only did it taste like half flat RC Cola, it even looked a bit like it as well. And it wasn’t the pleasant hint cola like taste of Foothills Peoples Porter. Maybe I got a dud bottle?
Earlier I posted about my not so great early look at my first homebrew. That was from a test done earlier in this week using a bottle which had matured 1 week and then stayed in the fridge for a little under a week. Today is the two week in bottle mark so I decided to pull one bottle from the batch to pour it and test it. To be totally honest I figured it would be not too far off from my original test but the results were dramatically different.
There is carbonation. A good amount of it. I still think it will be a better move to use the sugar in the bottling bucket next time but this does alleviate one of my fears relating to that I may have to drain the entire batch due to flatness. As a side note I also believe my fridge may have been set a bit too cold as well which could have been a (small) factor in the lackluster carbonation in the first trial.
The smell is much improved. The smell from the first test is hard to describe but the best I can come up with is banana, sugar and some spices. It wasn’t un-heffe like but it was still off. The smell now is much more of a solid banana and spice aroma.
The look has improved as well. The first test had a darker tone to it. Maybe it was related to flatness but, no matter what the reason, this has a darker (but not dark) wheat look to it.
This makes me feel a lot better about homebrewing. I’ve been a bit rocky thinking I made too many mistakes and preparing for the worst but things are looking up!
Final gravity of 1.010, ABV 5% and bottled on January 19, 2012. I have a feeling that it’s going to be super heavy banana and clove. We’ll see. But like the brewing before, bottling was not frustration free due to me learning how to use the tools as we bottled.
As a quick aside I was slightly worried fermentation wasn’t happening as it should because I saw hardly any bubbles at all in the primary airlock. Turns out the lid just isn’t tight enough to form a good seal.
The first hurdle was with Star San, or more so, it’s label. After making the diluted Star San mix and starting the sanitization process I noticed the front warnings which said all kinds of terrible things. I tend to take things at their word and started to get seriously frustrated that I was going to need to wash my hands for 20 minutes and call poison control due to touching the diluted mixture. After venting a while and speaking with seasoned home brewers I found that lots of people have no issue with the properly diluted mixture.
The next was in using the autosiphon. I followed the instructions exactly as it said to do but yet the siphoning didn’t continue after a few pumps. I tried over and over until I finally realized the tubing supplied was allowing a small amount of air in stopping the siphoning. Right away I was annoyed that air was flowing with the unfinished beer! Once I figured out that air was seeping in I pinched the siphon hard and manually pumped the beer from primary to bottling bucket. Next time I’m going to make sure the tubing in use is way too snug.
The last issue was in filling the bottles. While switching out bottles it wasn’t uncommon for there to be enough pressure in the line to cause beer to spray out of the line/spigot connection point. It wasn’t a ton but still caused issues and forced faster bottling to avoid losing beer. I’m not sure what I did wrong there but I’m sure it was me somehow.
Next batch should go a lot smoother. Both brewing and bottling attempts were huge learning experiences as well as failed experiments with frustration management. I’m looking forward to sampling the results and trying it all again. The waiting is killing me!
Yesterday I was able the to take the first reading and find where my hefeweizen’s gravity stands. It’s original gravity a week ago was 1.050. Yesterday’s reading shows it to be at 1.010. I’m thinking it’s at, or at least near, final gravity but am not totally sure just yet. I should know soon. What I can say is that the primary smelled amazing! I was tempted to try it as is but the yeast I saw while taking a sample for measurement convinced me otherwise. The ABV is currently coming to 4% which I’m happy with, especially if the beer tastes as good as it smells!