Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Bitter End is coming

You might think that making a good beer depends on the correct amount of hops (boiled for the desired amount of time) or the particular strain of yeast used, but as any experienced brewer will tell you, it really comes down to the soap.

I brewed my first batch of beer in about a year a couple weeks ago (three weeks and three days ago to be exact--it was during a heat wave, when I love to do nothing more than stand over a boiling pot of wort), and I'd forgotten, as I always do, what a pain in the arse it is to clean and sanitize all the equipment. Luckily I've never experienced that legendary armpit taste or achieved the brewed-with-skunk effect I have heard stories about. I've had my close calls. Once, I had to fetch a spoon which had dropped into a fermenter full of hefeweizen (I called the brew "Eric's Arm"). It was said someone found a hair in their beer, but I believe it had more to do with the fact that the fermenter exploded and sat in the open air for several days. Either way, hair or no hair (or maybe because of the hair), the beer turned out pretty incredible.

But you want to take no chances with cleanliness--in general, a good rule to live by. And now I am faced with a problem of my own creation: a keg which has sat uncleaned for two years. I thought about just skipping the keg and filling bottles, but it's just so much cooler to serve homebrew out of a keg. Besides I am taking the beer to a party in Duluth, and accounting for one large steel keg is a lot easier than saving (and reminding the consumers of the beer to save) their bottles.

Nope, this weekend I will have the pleasure of disassembling and scrubbing my keg system. I never knew a keg had so many parts! Valves, hoses, o-rings, couplers, regulators and of course faucets. Of course this is easier than washing and sanitizing up to 48 bottles. If you're ever in the same predicament as me, Yellowdog has a great website with step-by-step instructions.

The beer, which I am affectionately calling The Bitter End, is a dry-hopped IPA, using four different kinds of hops--two ounces of the ever-popular Cascade no-less. I sampled a bit during its transfer to the secondary fermenter, and it was delicious. Sure, it was warm and flat, but it was mine. I can't wait to share it.


Anonymous said...

The Bitter End!

I fuckin' love it!

I was glad to see you have got Mantooth's endorsement!

Thasnks for scrubbing,

MANTOOTH! said...

God, I love hops.

billvelek said...

Hi. I'm a homebrewer growing my own hops for the first time this year. I'm trying to let other brewers and hop growers know that I formed a Yahoo group for discussions _exclusively_ about growing hops and related matters such as trellis design, diseases, storage, etc.; we've recruited over 170 members so far, so this should provide a very large pool of knowledge and experience. We also have a database to coordinate the exchange of free hop rhizomes, plus lots of great links, photos, etc. If interested, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Grow-Hops


Bill Velek