Friday, February 22, 2013

EisGersteWein – zweiter Teil

When we last looked in on twenty13 it was starting to freeze at about 22° F and just about ready to be extracted into a 3-gallon corny keg. I dropped the temperature of the beer a bit more, driving for the 18 degrees that my calculations told me would concentrate it enough to achieve 20% abv. It got down to 10° F, so I warmed it back up to between 15 & 16° F. This temp worked out just fine though because the keg-to-keg beer transfer was going to happen outside of the freezer chest. If anything I wanted the beer temp. on transfer day to err on the conservative side. If my yield was less than 2.75 gallons, I knew I could always “water down” the beer to reach 20% abv, but it would be a lot more work if I erred the other way around.

Freezing twenty13 to concentrate the alcohol, residual malt and hops was fairly easy, but it wasn't without a couple minor mishaps. After taking the picture of the keg contents that’s in my previous post, I forgot to repressurize the keg and when the temperature was dropped to 10° F, about 1 quart of slushy beer made its way past the lid o-ring and onto the floor of my freezer chest. It smelled great, but was a sticky mess to clean up.

I used my new Spunding Valve to regulate the transfer rate and to make it a closed transfer to avoid any chance of oxidation. It also kept the recipient keg slightly pressurized which helped minimize the foaming that inevitably happens at the end of transferring a beer in this manner. After transferring the contents from both originating kegs I ended up with only 2.25 gallons. I bounced both kegs a few times to get any trapped liquid moving to the bottom of the keg. Within 5 more minutes I was able to transfer an additional quart. About half an hour after, that I was able to get the final few ounces transferred so my final volume was approx. 2.7 gallons.

Once the transfer was finished, the ice in the keg was white and lacked any malt color. It took another day and a half for the contents of the kegs to completely thaw. There was some color and a little flavor to the fluid that I ended up pouring out. I felt really good about how much concentration I had achieved, but I had yet to test the EisGersteWein twenty13 to confirm I’d achieved my goal.

The original beer had an OG of 1.066 and a FG of 1.018 (5.8 Brix), so the original abv was 6.06%. The freezing would increase the alcohol(abv), residual malt (FG) and hops (IBU’s) about 330% so long as I concentrated the original 9 gallons down to 2.70 to 2.73 gallons. The only empirical measurement I could use in my brewery was measuring the FG after all was said and done. I used my refractometer and it read just over 19.0 My calculated goal was 19.1(5.8 x 3.3) to reach 20.21% abv. Short of using a laboratory to confirm the actual alcohol level, I’d say the goal abv was reached. To validate the beer as a success though, the beer had to pass a taste test too.

I belong to a small group of very committed homebrewers – Tao of Brewing. Most of us have been brewing for over a decade, some of us for nearly two decades, but there are some members who've been brewing for only a few years. Our group was formed to give and receive honest evaluation of our beers that don’t any hold any punches. Honest feedback is the goal so that we all make the best beer possible.  

At the meeting this past Wednesday I served the first samples of twenty13 and my fellow brewers said they tasted:
  • Huge London Pride/Fullers ESB malt flavor from yeast esters.
  • Bittering and flavor hops there but no hop aroma.
  • Balanced malt to hop bitterness.
  • Alcohol hidden but hits in aftertaste.
  • British, bready, biscuity.
  • Honey and chamomile.
  • Toffee & medium crystal flavor notes.
  • Irish whisky-like flavor notes as it warms.
  • Definitely beer-like.
  • Can smell alcohol slightly.
  • Dry hoppiness lingers in finish.
  • Strangely dry for a beer with such a high FG
  • Loooooong dry, hoppy finish.
  • Final verdict: intense, balanced and awesome!

Again and again, tasters were surprised at the alcohol level and they commented on how well balanced the beer tasted. Many of them lamented on how bad Sink the Bismarck tasted to them. They found that beer to be unbalanced and commented how overbearing the hops were in it. These guys are no shrinking violets when it comes to hops, but they don’t like BrewDog products in the least. In twenty13 I planned for the concentration of the hop bitterness and flavor, but I was truly surprised at how well that aspect of the finished beer came off.

In any case, I’m very proud of this beer and can’t wait to force carbonate & bottle it so I can share it with friends and family…now if I could just find 187 ml BROWN bottles somewhere!

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