What’s that Flavor?! Bottle-Conditioned vs Force-Carbonated Part 1

So, some time last year, the president of the Menomonie Homebrewers’ club, Andy Gibson, was talking to a relatively new brewer. They were discussing a common flavor in this brewer’s beers. Over the course of the conversation, Andy made the commend he wished he could find someone who brews with extract but kegs their beer. He has always wondered if “yeast bite” might be a flavor some people find  objectionable, and if what some people think is extract twang is actually just yeast flavors.

This question has been rattling around inside my skull ever since. I brewed a few batches over the winter, but not as much as I’d like.

When our club starting planning for the 2012 Big Brew, I approached Andy about a collaboration project. He has a kegging system and I bottle-condition my beer. I figured we could tackle this question in a reasonably scientific way.

  1. We each brew 5 gallons of the same recipe.
  2. We ferment both batches together in one of my 15-gallon fermenters.
  3. We keg 5 gallons and bottle the rest on the same day.

Andy liked the idea, so we settled on the recipe for Janet’s Brown Ale from Brewing Classic Styles.

Stay tuned for updates!



Accidental Imperial – A Disaster?

I submitted this story to Basic Brewing Video’s 2011 Disaster Stories episode. I am posting the text here as the first post of my blog.

My disaster story may not qualify as a true disaster, since the end result wound up being one of my favorites so far. As logic would dictate, the opportunity for disaster increases greatly every time you change something, so it should come as no surprise my disaster came on my first all-grain brew day.

My father-in-law’s favorite beer is Anchor Steam, so I decided to make a batch of Jamil’s “Uncommonly Lucky” from Brewing Classic Styles.

Being obsessed with learning new information, I had done lot of reading before embarking on this journey and felt pretty prepared. Let’s see how it went.

When I had built my cooler mash tun the weekend before, I purchased regular PVC pipe for the manifold, not the type for high pressure/temperature. I noticed a potential problem as I was pouring my strike water into the cooler: my nice, flat manifold now approximated the shape of elbow macaroni. I got all the pieces back together and stirred in my grain and mashed it for an hour. Due to the deformity and reassembly, I have no idea what the mash temp was when I finally got the grain in the cooler.

So, after about 50 minutes I started heating my mash out water. It wound up taking bout 20 minutes, so the mash went longer than it should have. Figuring it’s better to keep going, I just kept the mash out water the same temp called for and dumped it in to the cooler, let it sit for 10 minutes to settle(after stirring) and started to run of into my kettle.

Hmmm, I know you’re supposed to run off the water slowly to help rinse all
the sugar from the grain, but my friend’s sparge seemed to run faster than
THIS. After taking 20 minutes to run off approximately 1 gallon, I figured
something was wrong.

I started scooping my mash into a bucket and quickly discovered my
manifold hand fallen apart and come completely disconnected from the
coupler leading to the ball valve. I got everything back together and held
it in place while I added my mash back in to the cooler, vorloffed and
started to fill my kettle.

I got my wort boiling and added my hops according to the recipe. The rest
of the brew went smoothly, I chilled the wort and racked it into my

The observant among you may have noticed something missing from my tale .
. . the BATCH SPARGE. Jamil’s recipes plan for you to have 5.5 gallons of
liquid racked to your fermenter. I had 3.5 gallons. I wound up bottling
about 3 gallons of 6.7% ABV “Imperial” Common Beer.

Now I have to figure out how to replicate all the problems that happened
into a larger batch. My father-in-law and I agreed it has been one of my
best batches yet.

So, it may not be a disaster since the end result was happy beer-drinkers,
but I figured you would enjoy the story.