Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Full Airlock

I brewed an American Pale Ale this weekend to give to my cousin when he comes home from serving in Afghanistan. After making some adjustments in the hop selection due to what I had on hand, and what the shop had in the freezer everything went pretty well. I've never brewed with Amarillo hops so I'm interested in seeing how this turns out. I also have never used Willamete hops for my flavor and aroma additions so this will be a new experience for me. The last "new" thing in the recipe was that I accidentally grabbed Organic 2-Row for my base malt. I didn't realize my mistake until I had already crushed the grains and was writing the prices on the bag. My buddy said the grains made him stronger, faster, and smarter so that should be great for a soldier.

So this is where my brewing goes off again. I've been using washed yeast from a couple May batches. I always make a half liter starter, always use a quarter teaspoon of yeast nutrient in the starter, and up until the last two times have had great starters with normal fermentation. The past two batches using the washed Wyeast Northwest Ale have produced HUGE krausens. This batch was 5.5 gallons and when I pitched the yeast on Sunday morning. By Monday morning primary fermentation had started and everything looked normal. Monday night, still happy bubbling airlock. Tuesday morning it looked like the airlock had had the Flu all night and puked yeast all over the its blanket and lid. I switched it out once again for the hose to relieve and pressure and foam. I just don't understand why this keeps happening. My gravities aren't very high, the yeast shows normal, or slightly weaker activity in the starters before pitching, and yet I get these crazy blast off fermentations. They are 8.5 gallon buckets, and I never have had this issue in the past using smack packs. The mystery continues. I'm thinking about washing this yeast again to see if this behavior continues in further generations. It may just be the genetics of the yeast that have survived the washing process and are now multiplying. I may be the grains I'm using that cause more head retention or proteins in the wort that hold foam better. The beers this washed yeast produces tastes great. I haven't picked up any off flavors in the IPA that almost blew its top. I'll send an e-mail to my friend who is the brewer for a local micro. He's a big yeast buff so he may be able to shed some light on whats happening in my brewery.

Brew Day Entertainment was provided by Ken Burns' The West. I really enjoyed this documentary series. I think I got through two or three episodes throughout the whole brew day. They are about 90 minutes per episode so it takes a bit of a commitment. I'm currently 6 episodes in since I've been watching bits and pieces after work. Its a very dark story that makes my childhood memories of cowboys and the wild west seem like fairy tales. In some instances the show makes me proud to be an American, while the majority of whats happening shows how cruel we were. I'm always fascinated by the old photos, and by the maps they show. Growing up here in Western Washington and a bit in Western and Northern Idaho I have seen a lot of the territory they cover in the film. I'm also familiar with several of the reservations and communities mentioned in the film. The only thing the west seemed to be missing in this film was good beer. They had whiskey, but not beer. I think next time I'll look into Ken Burns' Prohibition. I've heard that's a great history lesson on alcohol in the US. 

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