On January 31, 2009, a beer was brewed that was intended as a dark variant of a Welsh bitter. The yeast used was Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley. On May 17, 2009, that beer was finally bottled.
Three and a half months in the fermenter. I do not believe that I have ever had a non-lager beer continue working in the fermenter that long and still be unspoiled. At one month, the fermentation lock was still actively turning. Even on bottling day, the beer still had a ring of foam and the lock had not backed.
I admit that I was not optimistic when I began to bottle this beer. I did not even get the bottles ready before transferring the beer to the bottling bucket, as is my normal procedure. I wanted to see if the beer was still unspoiled and I had my doubts.
I should have cast doubt from my mind and kept beer faith. As I transferred the beer to the bottling bucket, I collected a sample. The beer was crystal clear and the taste is very good: malty without excessive sweetness. I encountered none of the harsh astringency or moldy viscosity that I had expected. If anything, the taste was a bit too mild for the intended effect. Although untended, the flavor and body of this beer are that of an excellent dark mild ale.
So why did fermentation take so long? I do not know. I have not been able to find anyone else that has used this yeast so I do not know if painfully slow working is a characteristic. I know only that this yeast worked slowly, but worked well.
It is interesting to note that the final gravity was still a bit high in spite of the long fermentation. Original gravity was 40 and the final was about 16, giving an alcohol content of about three percent. That is just fine with me, I am not into high gravity, I prefer high taste. Once this beer has conditioned in the bottle, I will give a full report.
So I missed the mark a bit in trying to create a dark Welsh bitter, but did create an excellent dark mild ale. I’ll take it.