Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Seventh brew...or how not to lager

As we got into April, the temperature started rising and I knew I wouldn't be able to ferment in the garage anymore.  With all my reading, it seemed logical that now was the time to switch to bottom fermenting yeast and lagering in the refrigerator.  I did some digging for recipes and ran across one for Munich Dunkel, in of all places, but Dave Miller's book,"Brewing the World's Best Beers".  

Tried a Dunkel just to be sure.  Or rather 6 of them.  In the name of research...okay, can't use that again, but pays to be sure.

After the mash, I kept it at 46-50 degrees for 9 days and it seemed to do just fine. Started with a 1.043 gravity and ended with a 1.012 for a little over 4% ABV.  A little low by .5% for the style, but I later realized that none of Dave Miller's recipes have enough grain specified. 

After bottling, and scouring the web for specs on the Wyeast #2038 and its finnickiness, I held it between 36 and 39 degrees.  After a couple weeks, I sampled a bottle...flat, barely 1/4 of head pouring straight down the middle of the glass.  Good retention though.  After a month I sampled a bottle...same, after two months I sampled a bottle...same, after three months I sampled a bottle...same.

Didn't help that everyone I spoke to at the SNAFU meeting just raised their eyebrows with, "Lagering?  I gave that up after one try." I took one over to Steve at Vegas Home Brew and when he pulled off the cap, he said, "Using screw top bottles?"  I hadn't even realized that a bunch of the bottles I'd been using were Blue Moon bottles.  Probably wasn't getting a good seal.  So I went home and suffered through drinking all the ones in Blue Moon bottles and promptly threw out about three cases of bottles.  Tried one that was in a Sam Adams bottle and it really wasn't any more carbonated than the ones in the Blue Moon bottles.

Finally, down to my last four bottles, I took one out and put it under a Shamwow in a cooler and soaked it every day in cold water.  Kept it a little below 70 degrees.  I left it that way for three weeks...and poof...carbonated finally.  Did the same with the last few bottles.  So with our Las Vegas Memorial Competition coming up, I have just enough to enter the contest and enjoy one for myself.

During this time, I'd attended several SNAFU meetings and tasted some great brews, both the May and June meetings had great raffles and home brews.  At the June meeting there was a case of Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut Down being raffled off.  What a crazy story that goes with it.


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