Back in May I bottled my most recent homebrew, Rats in the Attic Pale Ale. This is my favorite homebrew recipe. it’s flavorful, got a lot of hops, and carries quite a kick. Unfortunately, something has gone wrong this time.
I have been keeping this brew relatively close to my vest. I have given out a few, but the majority I have drank on my own in the secrecy of my own home. Before I get into what’s wrong or right about it, let me go over the brew as I experienced it.
This one was a bit over carbonated. I’m not worried about bottles blowing their tops or anything, but this pours like Duvel. Slow, deliberate pour or you end up with more head than beer. Lots of hops in the aroma and a bit of yeast. This is one of the things that concerns me, the yeast smells a bit wild. The flavor is a light malt, tons of esthers, very fruity and sweet followed by a big citrusy hop kick that clears up the palate. There’s a good amount of alcohol mixed in there and again, the yeast has a bit of a wild feel to it.
So what’s going on here? First, the big time esther profile obviously came from a warmer fermentation. Brew closet temperatures are always a concern and this one may have been a little warm. A method I used to lager while in regon may be appropriate for contolling the temperature in the warmer temps here. I simply place the carboy in a keg bucket filled with water. Control the temperature of the water, you control the temperature of the beer. A little ice can go a long way.
Next issue is the wild yeast flavor. This isn’t a bad flavor, but unexpected. I had areas of concern with this beer where this could have popped up. The first was in the transfer to secondary. A little water from the stopper fell int the beer. Second was the dry hopping. As always, you run the risk of introducing bacteria or wild yeast when dry hopping, as you don’t have the benefit of boiling wort to sanitize the brew.
I don’t think these were the culprit as I tried the beer during bottling and didn’t notice anything odd. My final guess then is the bottling bucket. I’ve been burned with plastic in the past, and the chance for infection, bacteria or yeasts within the tiny scratches of the plastic is always there.
When it comes down to it, I can’t be certain what caused this off flavor. Part of me is a perfectionist when it comes to what I cook or brew, and more than anything, it annoys me that my brew wasn’t exactly what I anticipated. In the end, this is one of the things we have to deal with as homebrewers. We’ve all had to toss a bad batch at some point, and while irritating, this is not nearly as heart breaking as pouring 5 gallons of beer down the drain.