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Friday, January 23, 2009

Honey Ale, British Ale & Lager

First, I must apologize for the tardiness of my latest posting. It appears my dial-up connection was knocked askew by the inauguration traffic. Just the same, my experimental efforts continued last weekend with the bottling of the honey and British ales and the brewing of a lager.

The honey ale had finally settled down and was ready to bottle. It tasted a bit like a modern mead, perhaps with a bit more character. The general rule is that if a beer tastes good going in, it is even better coming out; that is if you bottle condition. I look forward to popping one of these open in a few weeks.

Regular readers may remember that with my British ale I suffered a failure of the original yeast culture. I then pitched a second, dry, yeast. That got things going but appears it may have been too late to save the brew. As I prepared to bottle it, I noticed the heart-rending smell of raw corn. Infection!

This was devastating as I had used the last three ounces of hops from my own yard in this brew. Faced with the dilemma of bottling the brew and hoping for the best or pouring it in the hopyard, we opted for bottling. I cannot recall that I have ever had a beer recover from this. However, as my former neighbor Michael said, "If you bottle it, you may get something. If you dump it, you guarantee that you get nothing." Three cheers for optimism.

Finally, last Monday I brewed a lager for the first time in many years. I am not much of a lager fan. In the past, brewing a lager required putting my refrigerator into use for brewing and thus limiting my food supply for the next 16 weeks. The results were excellent, but at what cost?

Now that I live in New Hampshire, in a 150 year old home, my kitchen tends to stay at lagering temperatures for the duration of the winter. So I decided to take advantage of the situation and brewed up a lager. I kept things simple: pale Pearle malt base, 20L crystal malt, Kent hops, and ... something else. The yeast was a Saflager S-23 dry culture that took off and went to work. I have high hopes for this one, as I do for all of my brews.

I will keep you posted.

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