I really hate doing this — pouring a beer that I brewed up (particularly at the five-gallon batch level) down the drain. What particularly stings about this is that it was a higher gravity ale, taking a month and a half of fermentation to be realized.
The first few pours of this beer were amazing, a great blend of toasted biscuit, dark raisin notes, and that nice warming alcohol mouth feel at the end. It was actually one of the better tasting batches of it that I’ve made.
Until I pulled a pint last night.
With only two weeks having passed, the flavor profile changed dramatically — now the beer’s character is more consistent with an odd alkaline-ester tang, funky noxious gas in the nose, and an aftertaste best described as “…GAH! Pour me some of that tap root beer and grab me some chips and HOT salsa so I can get that crap off my palette!! STAT!”
I’d love to blame it on the CO2, but the other lines are fine and don’t exhibit any off flavors (yet). But man, I have not had an issue like this… well, ever.
But fortunately, I have a really good hunch as to why there’s a skunky funk in my beer’s junk. If you had read the post from that brew day, you may recall that my wort had the divine opportunity to pick up additional notes of window pane, cupboard exterior, and granite counter top when a slip of the bucket led to a tidal wave in the kitchen. Additionally, my chilling process took longer because I ran into a few issues along the way. Though the brewing process was flawless, the chilling process was life-threatening to a beer… and well now, I think it’s time to pull the plug off the Winter Warmer (batch two, 2011) and just brew up another beer to put in its stead.
The last time I had to throw out a beer in mass quantities was the Scottish Wee Heavy I brewed up about five years ago. After giving about a dozen bottles away to those that would take it, I dumped 30-some bottles for the sole reason that I really couldn’t stomach the flavor of Northern Brewer’s Scottish Wee Heavy. That style of beer is just not my thing.
Other than that, I have never had a problem with infections in my beer — none anyway that rendered the beer unpalatable. But this is home brew — disasters happen and you can count on them. This time, the casualty was on the four gallon scale (possibly five). Why possibly five? Well, I had thieved a gallon of the five gallons of Winter Warmer to do a coffee addition in the secondary and cold press that for three days. Hopefully the contamination is solely in the keg (or the other carboy) and not in this batch. Tonight I’m going to crack open a bottle of the coffee-infused Winter Warmer and see if it came out alright and avoided the funk.
It happens though — bad beer. None of us are immune, especially men. With us, accidents happen. We count on them. We live through them. We learn from them. Since that brewing day disaster, I’ve made my own wort chiller and can chill a five gallon batch in under ten minutes. So I know that chilling disasters are less likely to happen (knock on wood).
At any rate, I’ll probably play a short dirge (perhaps something from The Cure) in homage to the brew that was, dump it down the drain and soak everything overnight in some PBW to kill the skank. And then perhaps tomorrow or Monday I’ll brew up my Chocolate Milk Stout and get that sucker on tap before mid-February. I plan on splitting half of that up and putting crushed candy canes in the secondary to add a peppermint flare to the beer. I think it’ll be pretty cool.
Anyway peace out neighbor. Stay safe and enjoy that home brew!