Wednesday, January 10, 2007

what can I say? yeast love me!!

I've brewed twice in the last two months. Once was a batch of alt intended for the GT-Duke football tailgate party but that ended up not working out becuase I ended up not being able to go. So then it was supposed to be ACC Championship Alt but we ended up not really having space in the car when we were the only ones driving down and were supposed to bring back two people (which ended up changing at the last minute anyhow). We could have probably used it after that game, though.

I went away to work one morning and the fermentation was chugging along, pretty active. I'm one of those brewers that is constantly checking on the fermentation, several times a day, mostly because I like it. Yeah, boring to most, but there's something about the rythym of the airlock that I find relaxing. Or maybe it's more like the 6-year-old on Christmas Eve syndrome. I just like watching the process from beginning to end.

Well, I get home and like a good, little, obsessive-compulsive I go over to check the carboy. Here's a pic of what I find.

Not the most pleasant discovery, but they ferment in open containers in Belgium so it's nothing to get too worried about, especially since I was smart enough to put the carboy on a kitchen towel. Clean up the opening and reinstall the airlock. Make a note to put the fermenter on a towel every time, just in case.

On Dec 29, I got together with one of my buddies because he wanted to brew a batch for his birthday. He wanted a stout and we ended up making up a recipe for an Imperial Stout. We bought the stuff, brought it home, brewed and put in the fermenter. It was a bit high on the gravity so I took a bit of the wort, diluted it and made a starter to up the yeast count before I pitched. The yeast was pretty active a few hours later. I let it sit a while longer and there was a considerably sized foam on just the starter. Since we were going out of town the next morning bright and early, I went ahead and pitched and figured I'd just worry about whether the yeast made it or not when we got back a week later from our ski trip in Montana (which was awesome, by the way). It wasn't looking too promising when we left at 4:30 am but oh well, right. Nothing to lose sleep over.

Here is what I returned home the following weekend to find.

Holy shit! Once again, thank you towel! We moved it to a secondary tonight because I wanted my buddy to see what happened before I cleaned it up completely. If you look just left of the fermenter in the last pic you'll see the airlock. Much less violent than the first one which managed to get fermentation debris on the ceiling but a hell of a lot messier. To give you an idea about the spillage, imagine a six pack of wort absorbed by a towel and then evaporated. That towel was stiffer than a 13-year old with his first Playboy.

We tested the gravity and it's sitting at about a 6.5% ABV. Not bad for a recipe we made up in the homebrew store. He wanted to add some coffee so we made two 10-cup pots of Brazilian espresso. And I'm kind of uncommitted but I think we'll be naming it "Bernie's 30 Imperial Coffee Stout." The sample we drew for gravity measurements is most promising. Nice hops flavor and aroma, great coffee flavor and aroma and a surprisingly chocolately aroma. We bottle on Monday. I'll let you know how it is when it's a little bit carbonated.

PS - I think he was weirded out a little when I tasted the trub. It did kind of look like the contents of a baby's diaper.


  • At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's quite a mess!

    I like to put my fermenter in a baking pan just in case something like this happens. It hasn't yet, but I think it's inevitable for anyone who homebrews.

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger David Larsen, fine artist said…

    I usually do not have those kind of explosive issues except in wheat beers. For some reason, those run like a bat out of hell.

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger Travis said…

    I found that when I get one thats all fired up I run a rubber tube out of the pug into a water pan (sanatizer in the water) and it usually keeps anything crazy from happening.

    That sounds like a good brew, have fun.

  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Get a blow-off tube or do primary fermentation in something with more headspace (like a 6.5 gallon bucket). I generally opt for the latter.

  • At 6:28 PM, Blogger chris said…

    I'm doing a blow off tube from now on. I've had trouble with the buckets. I can't seem to keep from scratching them to hell. But I've been fermenting in carboys for about a year and it's really only been these last two batches. Maybe it's whatever The Terrorists are putting in the water.

  • At 7:22 PM, Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said…

    A blow off tube or a bigger vessel works well.


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