You win some, you lose some

We’re continuing to gain both experience and enthusiasm with our Slow Happy Brewing project! After the positive comments from our homebrew peers, we opened our next batch with high hopes and we were not disappointed. Dare I say it, Grand Festivus XII is an awesome winter beer — perfect for sipping in front of the fire if I only had a working fireplace (a chimney sweep is on my to-call list).

For our next batch, we thought we’d dip our toes into the wild and wooly world of IPAs (India Pale Ales). Neither one of us is a hophead, but it’s such a hugely popular style that we have to give it a go.

I fiddled with recipes, tweaked a few ingredients, and came up with something that I thought would nicely fit the style guidelines. We bought the ingredients and scheduled a brew day for last Saturday.

Everything went perfectly. We brewed outdoors on a propane burner for the first time. This allowed us better temperature control and we were confident that we’d gotten all the potential fermentables out of our grains and into the wort. We got the wort cooled relatively quickly. We were all ready to pitch the yeast (put it into the carboy with the cooled wort) and let it do its magic.

CFL decided to dip the thermometer in the carboy one more time to double-check that it was exactly 68 degrees.

He dropped the thermometer into the carboy.

It broke. The tip broke right off.

We looked at each other and immediately agreed that this beer was history.

We dumped the carboy and went out for pizza! No worries, no finger pointing. Good pizza.

So yesterday we went out and bought the same ingredients again. Today we brewed again, using an expensive new digital thermometer with a metal probe. It registers quickly and precisely. With its help, we successfully steeped our grains at a more or less exact 150 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, after an hour of boiling, we cooled our wort to 68 degrees in a record (and just about ideal) 20 minutes.

You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you even learn from your mistakes!

The next batch on our schedule to be opened is another porter, which we weren’t impressed with on brew day two weeks ago — it seemed a bit watery. But we have big hopes for today’s IPA take 2. We’ll see how we did, about a month from now.

Meanwhile I’m going to relax and have a homebrew.

4 responses to “You win some, you lose some

  1. I wouldn’t be very aware of the fine points of what you’re discussing except that between my son and son-in-law I have been initiated with such a peripheral knowledge of these microbrews. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Stone Brewery–it’s perhaps only California. The guys would drive all the way to Temecula to get growlers filled. Then the skies parted and angels sang as one opened in Pasadena. Now it’s the hit! We went to try to get a gift certificate for a friend and the line out the door was a block long. People were holding their growlers and patiently waiting for their turn to buy “Arrogant Bastard Ale” or “Supremely Righteous.” The boys would so approve of your Grand Festivus XII–they’d love the name and the brew! Your home brew project is ambitious and sounds very worthwhile! And tasty, I’m sure! :-)

    • I did wonder if this post was a bit esoteric.

      Stone Brewery is well known, almost legendary around here. I’ve only sampled a couple of their beers but the Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout was out of this world. CFL grew up in San Diego and we hope to visit their brewery when we get down that way next spring.

  2. You two have a great idea. Forget it about it and enjoy some pizza, and try again another time. Hope it turns out really well!
    Burning question: Did you have beer with your pizza? I heard it’s a thing. :)

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