Showing posts with label disappointments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disappointments. Show all posts

Monday, August 20, 2012

Carboy Carnage

I am an idiot.

Saturday was supposed to be a day of discovery, learning about the differences between the bottled water I had been using for brewing and the well water I will be using in the future. The plan was really quite simple, do a double brew of the same grain and hop bill, using the same yeast strain but with water from different sources. I had decided to brew an 80/- Scottish Ale, one of my favourite types of beer. The two batches would have been ready in the middle of September, just in time for the onset of autumn, with its cooler temperatures and steady gentle rain, days that always remind me of home.

Everything went swimmingly in the mashes, the well water extracted a touch less colour than bottled, and seemingly more sugar, with each of the 3 runnings being 2o Plato stronger with well water. Eventually I worked out that to keep a rolling boil with my kettle required leaving the lid on for the duration of the 90 minutes, and thus began the downfall of my day.

On previous brewdays I knew that the evaporation rate meant from 3 gallons of wort I got 1.5 gallons to be diluted in ice cold water in an ice bath, keeping the lid on meant I only lost half a gallon to evaporation. As a result I put less cold water in the carboy in the ice bath, and filled up pretty much as usual. Hot wort, ice bath, glass carboy, a cracking combination, as you can see from the picture. The crack of glass was unmistakable and the water turned a rich red as the wort seeped out, flowing easily as I lifted the carboy by the neck to confirm my worst fears.


Not to worry, all was not lost, I had my second boil rolling and I decided to switch out my other glass carboy with a PET Better Bottle. Fast forward to the end of the boil, the ice bath ready, and again less evaporation. With 95% of the wort in the fermenter, I heard a crack. Surely plastic doesn't crack? True enough, it doesn't, but it does melt and shrink and become deformed, as in the picture, next to an unshrunken version. I did a quick search online to see if it would be safe enough to ferment the beer but the collective wisdom was that it was best to ditch the batch.


So my double brewday ended up empty handed because of my empty headedness, but on the upside I will be breaking out my wort chiller in the very near future and will forthwith be doing whole wort boils. As I said, I am an idiot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Happened?

Later this year I will be 37 years old, which means that for more than half my life I will have been drinking legally. Ever since that first, legal, pint of Guinness in the Dark Island Hotel back home on Benbecula, I have had a taste for beer. Oh alright then, I was known before I turned 18 to enjoy the occasional can of whatever muck was available, Tennent's Lager most often, though also the odd Budweiser. I was never one of the "sit in the bus shelter on a Friday night drinking whatever we could persuade the older kids to buy for us" set, but I had a beer from time to time.

Bit of a digression there, but anyway, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post listing five beers that changed what I drink and how I think about beer. Another slight digression, but one thing that hasn't changed is the kind of place I enjoy drinking in, pubs, proper pubs, not bars or clubs or glorified restaurants, but pubs, even if they are something of a hen's tooth over here. Without wanting to sound like a complete curmudgeon, here are a few beers that I once loved, which now leave me disappointed...


In 1999 when I moved to Prague, Velkopopovicky Kozel was something of a minor beer celebrity. I had heard so much about this pale lager which was so unlike the Carling and Fosters most pubs served in Britain, it had a real hop bite to it. My first pint was at the sports bar I went to every weekend for ten seasons and I loved it. Eventually the brewery was bought by Pilsner Urquell and in turn Pilsner Urquell was bought by SABMiller, and so began the desecration of a once lovely beer. When I left in 2009 I found a Kozel bar whilst out walking and popped in to sample the wares, and while the 12° was ok, the rest of the range was thin, insipid and a mere shadow of its former self.


The other beer I drank a lot of back in my early Prague years was Gambrinus, the picture here is their 11° Excelent. While Gambá? was available as both a 10° and a 12° beer, it was the 10° that you saw most often - most pubs would have three taps, Gambrinus 10° on one, with Kozel ?erny and Pilsner Urquell taking up the other two. Again Gambrinus was something of a sad story, perfectly drinkable for many a year and then around 2006 strange things started happening, it became thin and noticeably watery. I am not sure when they started watering down a 13° beer, post fermentation, to create the 10° and 12° but they should never have started.


Once upon a time I drank smoothflow ales, I liked them and then I moved away from Britain and didn't have the option. Perhaps they were always bland, watery messes, but I have a sense that in the 13 years between leaving Blighty and sitting in my Charlottesville living room this morning, they have got worse.

Over to you then, what beers did you once love and now find disappointing?

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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