I’d say this is finished conditioning now; no twang at all, good clarity and carbonation, rich body. That’s not to say it won’t improve with age but right now it’s a rather nice tipple.
This one was supposed to be ready 7 days ago, and now that I’ve sampled the first one across that long-awaited finishing line I’m happy to say that there’s enough carbonation … but also some odd green flavours, a bit like the first Evil Dog. Not sure if this needs a bit longer or if it’s oxidisation, but right now it feels as though three of these will be the start of a great hangover. Let’s give it another month.
I’ve been fretting about this one since my first test at the end of February – what if they’re all ruined? Well, needn’t have feared. This lates sample has good clarity, a very malty, hazy flavour, and – above all – some carbonation!! Not quite enough for such a high ABV beer (in my opinion) but certainly enough to make it drinkable. To give it credit I’m not supposed to go near for another 10 days, but signs are good again.
OK, so I couldn’t wait. There are still 20 days to go until this brew should be ready to taste, according to the manufacturer, but I’ve had my fill of beer for the night and while searching the garage for a cider to finish on I tripped across this box of Belgians, patiently waiting underneath a KTM. Why not wrestle one out and rip it open?
Clarity looked promising through the brown Steinie and when I popped the cap there was a reassuring ‘snick’ – but that was it. No carbonation at all, flat as a pancake. To think I was worried about creating bombs when I over-carbed this halfway through January! Really disappointed by the lack of bubbles. The flavour is OK; maybe a very small amount of twang and an obvious hit of alcohol, with strong malt notes and only a slight handful of wheat – another disappointment. Then again, there’s only so much wheat you can put in at 8% ABV before it gets mis-sold as malt, IMHO.
All of these flavours are fine, or they would be, if only there was some actual fizz to add texture. But no. Nothing. I’m hoping that I grabbed a duff bottle but chances are against it. It’s a real shame since I now have regulated CO2 on hand to carbonate to any level I want without relying on secondary sugars, but I don’t know how I’d get the bottle contents into a vessel without exposing to oxygen. Who knows, maybe I won’t have to write this batch off, depending on how the next bottle turns out. Maybe I will.
All bottles moved out to the garage after 10 days in the warm, safely tucked away in a Patteson’s Glass cardboard box with top and side labels. Let’s see if I can resist opening one until they’re ready on 20th March … though as it’s currently 3 ℃ outside I’m wondering if … no, just wait until March. 😉
SG is still sitting at 1.020 (maybe a smidge below) so I decided to go ahead and bottle this brew today, filling 24 of my newly arrived 330 ml ‘Steinies’. I added 2 carbonation drops (target = 500 ml) since I want a bit more fizz with this one, hopefully none will go bang in the night.
Must remember to update the forum thread with the results when I open one… and to clench my teeth while drinking, because I forgot to fit the gauze net to the bottling wand. 🤭
Storing these in the server room at 22 – 25 ℃ for 10 days, then the garage for ‘ripening’ over 6-8 weeks!
No real change in appearance here, still the same as it was 3 days ago but we have dropped one more point on the gravity scale, now at 1.020. I want to bottle this now but am holding back because I only have 500 ml bottles, and that will be too much for a tripel. My 330 ml bottles are still 2 days away and I’m hoping this brew can hang on that long.
Just had a peek under the lid and it looks like she’s ready to bottle; only remnants of Krausen, a small burst from the airlock every minute or so. Getting a reading from the sample was difficult on account of the foam, and there was a slight hint of carbonation when tasting the trial jar contents afterwards.
SG comes in at 1.021 which I’m happy with given the amount of sugar and Spraymalt that was in there at the beginning. As it stands we’re looking at 8.2% ABV if she doesn’t move in the next two days, in which case it’s time to bottle.
I’m still seeing some airlock activity here so it’s probably not ready, but let’s take a reading anyway, since the instructions say to check gravity at 7-10 days and it’s been nine.
There’s still a bit of foam on top but nowhere near what there must have been two days after starting when it was all over the underside of the lid. Gravity is difficult to measure because there’s a lot of fizz, and I’m not confident that my hydrometer isn’t being coated in millions of tiny bubbles as soon as it slows from its spin. In the spirit of progress let’s split the difference between the two readings I just took and call it 1.027. Still, this sample tastes very sweet indeed and there’s a fair bit of airlock activity, so let’s give it another 5 days and check back then.
The foam seems to have peaked on both of these and is starting to recede as far as I can tell from the outside of the FV. Both vessels are still bubbling along nicely every few seconds.
On the Tripel I’m just getting a hint of Krausen on top of the brew and the specks which cover the now empty head-space are a lighter colour, as though they’ve dried.
The IPA meanwhile has had some more activity in the past couple of days and also decorated its head-space nicely, but now it looks as though it’s falling back and settling as a thick layer on top of the brew.
Looks like I spoke too soon, both the Tripel and the Grapefruit IPA are well and truly fermenting! The Tripel is almost constantly popping the airlock, maybe 3 or 4 seconds between rapports, and the IPA not far behind with 4 – 6 seconds between emissions.
The IPA has evidence of some foam touching the inside of the FV lid, and there’s a slight trace of bubbliness in the airlock, but no residue. The real star performer is the Tripel, which has managed to climb all the way up the side of the bucket and touched the lid, despite being only a third filled. Can’t imagine what this would have looked like in a 10 litre FV – probably time for a new carpet. Will need to keep an eye on these two.
Those nine litres of Wheat Tripel are coming along as expected, sending out a short burst of gas via the airlock every 5 – 10 seconds or so. Looking good!
In the beginning I couldn’t work out how the combination of 2 litres of water with 500g sugar, 1 litre to flush out the can, plus 5 litres cold water would make a 9 litre brew (and was about to turn to the internet for help) when it occurred to me that the actual can contents would make up the missing litre. First oops.
The second oops happened after I had combined everything and started cooling to 20℃ for yeast pitching: I’d forgotten that I specifically purchased some spraymalt with this kit in order to improve the mouth feel and general quality, but now I’d mixed everything together, including the full 500g sugar. Too late to replace some of the sugar with spraymalt as planned, so I went for the third of three options from the instruction page:
Add one pack of Spraymalt to any standard recipe in addition to the 1 kg of sugar suggested with the beer kit. This will not only boost the malt flavour but also brew a stronger beer without destroying the beer’s natural character. The beer brewed will be approximately 20% stronger than the standard recipe. Hopped Light again is ideal, improving the hop flavour of the final beer as well as the general richness.Option 3 of 3: Spraymalt in addition to the suggested sugar
I tried to dissolve the spraymalt in a little water before adding it to my rapidly cooling wort, but this just produced a hideously lumpy amalgam similar to a mixture of sourdough and baby puke. Nothing really for it but to throw this in and hope for the best, though I did measure SG before and after, 1.072 and 1.083 respectively.
At the risk of adding one more oops to today’s efforts, I just noticed that the above option 3 of 3 calls for adding the spraymalt to the included 1 kg of sugar, but my kit only called for 500g of sugar, which of course I added. So now I’m left with a very lumpy wort containing all the sugar it needs, in addition to enough spraymalt to raise twice the quantity of wort by 20%. Can’t wait what this does to my Tripel, though I guess the one saving grace is that at just over 9 litres there’s plenty of headroom in the 23 litre bucket. I pitched the included yeast (Misty Wit Ale, 8g) and sealed the lid, leaving the bucket in my office at 20 ℃. Airlock activity started pretty much straight away.
Bit of a shaky start to making my first Belgian style brew, hope she turns out all right.