Friday, August 6, 2010

Brew School Summer Session Beers

The final day of the Summer session of brew school is this Sunday and we will be tasting three of the beers that were brewed in earlier classes. These include a pale ale utilizing dry malt extract with steeping grains and three additions of hops, a German hefeweizen using only dry malt extract and one addition of bittering hops and a partial mash dry stout using liquid malt extract to supply most of the fermentables.

Pale, Hefe, Stout

The pale ale and the hefe were both bottled the second week of class and the dry stout we kegged on the third week and will be on tap for tasting for the final class Sunday. The ten gallon all-grain brewed last week (the fourth week) was split into two five gallon fermenters with Whitelabs wlp002 English ale yeast in one and wlp004 Irish ale yeast in the other. Those two beers I will keg and have for sampling several weeks from now. Interested students will have an opportunity to get together to sample those at a potluck at my house.

I sample all of the beers in advance of this final day of class and I spent some time considering the results of our efforts regarding the recipes and processes used in brewing these beers. This review is important as I consider any needed changes for the next series of classes.

I noticed a common characteristics of both the pale ale and the hefeweizen this time around, a distinct aroma and flavor of butterscotch (diacetyl) that I have to attribute to the shortened primary fermentation period before bottling. I believe this is occurring because of the time constraints and the busy schedule needed to cover all the the elementary lessons in these classes. We brew two batches of beer the first week and bottle that same beer one week later. Consequently the yeast is not given the time to absorb some of the flavor by-products created during the rapid fermentations that are required to have completed beer ready for bottling. Considering this for my Fall classes, I may adjust the curriculum and schedule the bottling for the third week allowing the beer to rest in the primary for an additional week or have the class go through the process of racking to a secondary. Other than the diacetyl effect I am please with results of these two beers.

The dry stout on the other hand has a mild 'grainy' characteristic that I'm not happy with and has a thin mouthfeel but overall turned out pretty good. Next time, I would cut back on the amount of sparge water used for the batch. In the mean time the all-grain beers are close to completion and I plan to rack from the fermenters to the kegs later next week. I'm looking forward to tasting how the different yeast contribute to the flavor.

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