Fermentation, Packaging, and Conditioning June 06 2020, 0 Comments
So this ended up being one of my more "interesting" fermentations. It started out great, the US-05 American Ale dry yeast took off after about 18 hours. Fermentation temperature was a steady 66-68F. Fermentation went strong for about four days, slowed down, and the airlock was completely quiet around day six.
Day nine, I added dry hops. A lot of dry hops. 2 oz Centennial, 1 oz Simcoe, and 1 oz Chinook. Gonna be a solid, West Coast-style IPA.
On day 12, things took the turn for the "interesting." I moved my carboy down to my chest freezer to cold crash the beer. It turned on, started making noise, all of the good signs. Except one, which may be the most important part. It wasn't cooling. At all.
After a bit of research, it seemed that my chest freezer was kaput. Oh well, not the end of the world, I'll just buy another one. A cost I would rather do without, but definitely necessary at this point. Only one issue. Due to COVID-19 and everyone stocking up on food, everywhere was out of chest freezers, with none to show up for 6-8 weeks at the earliest.
So, on to plan B, with "B" standing for bottling. On day 15, the beer is still looking pretty cloudy, so I decided to use some Dualfine to help clarify the beer a bit. I gently stirred in the clarifier, hoping to wake up the next morning to clarified beer ready to be bottled.
The next morning, the beer had clarified some, but was a little more "interesting." The airlock was giving off a bubble every 30 or so seconds. Perhaps it is just off-gassing post fermentation. Is what I thought, until the next day the same thing was happening. And the next day.
By now the beer has been on the dry hops for over a week. I was shooting for 4-5 days. I considered moving the beer off of the dry hops (to avoid the beer getting overly grassy or vegetal), but I was worried about too much oxidation, so I left the beer where it was.
On day 18, I had pretty much lost all patience. I mean, I want to drink this brew. Am I wrong? I finally took a gravity reading and got a reading of 1.010, which is a tiny bit below the target final gravity I was shooting for. The beer is still giving off a bubble every 90 seconds or so, but I'm going to risk it. Tasted pretty darn good at bottling...
Two weeks later...
Given all of the firsts that went along with this batch (first brew on the new system, first all-grain gluten-free batch, first brew of the spring), I'm pretty happy with this beer. There isn't nearly as much hop aroma as I was hoping for, and the beer didn't clear up much (Steven called it "muddy"), but I've definitely had worse gluten-full IPAs...
The beer did seem to clarify a little bit the longer it sat in the refrigerator, so hopefully sometime down the road when I can actually purchase a chest freezer, I'll be able to cold crash.
But the beer had a nice but not overwhelming hop bitterness bite, a good amount of fruity hop flavor, a residual dank aroma (from the Columbus), and a balancing malt backbone. I'd rate this batch 3 beers out of six, but it's definitely a 6-pack is half full, rather than half empty :)
- Check your equipment before you want to use it, especially if you haven't used it for a long time!
- Take a gravity reading BEFORE you dry hop.
- Just gotta relax, because like Charley K, rock star beersmith at the Wine and Hop Shop says, "It'll be beer," even if everything doesn't go exactly perfectly.
I really was hoping to do a dry hopped lager as batch number two, but without a functioning freezer, I've got to stick to ales for now. I was thinking maybe an Altbier, I really like those, and there is a dry yeast, Safale K-97, that I would like to try with it. But on second thought, I really want another shot at this IPA...
As always, feel free to leave comments, suggestions, critiques, etc. in the comments. Or you can email the Shop as well. Thanks and until the next brew, happy (gluten-free) homebrewing!