Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beer, Beer Everywhere, But Only Some To Drink

Seattle Beer Week 2011 is a wrap; and boy did it wear me out.  I started the week strong, hitting several events per day the first 4-5 days, but faded a bit in the end, only hitting one event per day for the last few days.  Then, far too soon, I had to be back to work. 

This is what happens when you give Mrs. Beer Monger too much beer.

Back to the Brew:
Beer-wise, however, it was time to get back to focusing on my homebrew.  Luckily I managed to arrange things where I didn't have any brewing, bottling or kegging planned during Seattle Beer Week.  I had a batch of IPA that went into the primary fermenter on May 1st and batch of Oktoberfest lager that went into its primary fermenter on May 8th.  Both were good to go until at least May 28-29. 

Unfortunately, I didn't quite get to them on the 28th or 29th, but did manage to get everything taken care of yesterday (June 1st).  I moved my IPA from its primary fermenter to a keg and force carbonated it.  I wanted this beer to be ready for my annual crawfish boil this month.  I took a hydrometer reading to verify the beer had fermented out all the way and then gave the sample a taste.  It was flat and warm, of course, but otherwise pretty darn good.  Nice and hoppy, which I Love.  I may even dry-hop this batch in the keg to give it even more hop aroma. 

Time to get kegging.

Next, it was time to keg my Oktoberfest Lager and let it start its 3-month lagering period prior to carbonation.  As with the IPA, I tasted the hydrometer sample.  Wow!  Being the first lager I'd ever made, I wasn't sure what to expect, taste-wise, as this point in the process.  It tasted great; comparable to other commercial Oktoberfest beers I've had.  This is extremely encouraging, since I still plan to let this beer lager (age & improve) for three full months before serving it. 

I also still had a keg of Chamomile Ale in my fridge.  I bottled the other keg a few weeks ago for my last homebrew club meeting.  Now that the Chamomile Ale has had some time to mature a bit, however, it's gotten pretty good too.  The carbonation level is right and the Chamomile flavor comes through nicely. 

Ready to Drink?:
So, I now have three full kegs of beer in my beer fridge: the Chamomile Ale, the IPA and the Oktoberfest Lager.  At the moment, however, the only one of them that's 'ready to drink' is the Chamomile Ale.  I did 'quick carbonate' the IPA when I kegged it last night so it would technically be drinkable by tonight, but I plan to wait on drinking it until at least this weekend if not a full week. 

I have to wait until September to enjoy what these ladies are enjoying.

The Oktoberfest Lager, while it did taste great when I kegged it, still needs to lager.  I really don't want to rush things with this one.  A one-month lagering period would probably be sufficient, but I really want to let it go the whole three months and not start serving it until September 17th, the first official day of Oktoberfest in Germany this year.  Perhaps I'll have to do it up right and make a full, authentic German meal to go with it on that day.  J√§egerschnitzel anyone? 

What's Next:
Now I'm ready to brew again.  I can't do another lager yet, because I just don't have the extra fridge space for the fermenter.  I have been rather experimental with a lot of my brews so far this year (Chamomile Ale, my first ever Lager, trying the 'batch sparge' method, etc.), and I'd like to continue that trend. 

In all my years of brewing, I have never made a Barleywine.  A lot of patience is required for a good Barleywine.  It's not something that can be rushed, and I want to make sure I do it right.  So, I think my next batch will be my first ever Barleywine style Ale. 

I have a lot of things to consider, recipe-wise, but I have a feeling I'll want to shoot for a darker, maltier Barleywine.  I'd also like to try oak aging it.  I don't want to spend the money for an oak barrel right now, however, so I'll just use Oak chips (soaked in bourbon, of course).  I don't have a brew date yet, as I'd like to soak the oak chips in the bourbon for, at minimum, 2 weeks and, as I said, I'm still formulating the recipe.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

1 comment:

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