Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unexplored potential

The potential is breathtaking. What you're looking at is 25 kg of some of the world's finest two row pale malt. Maris Otter, to those in the know. It is without form, ready for crafting into any number of fine beers. Crisp pale ale? Without doubt. Rich barley wine? Certainly. Smoked porter? Perhaps. Whatever takes my fancy. But my excitement is met by trepidation in equal measure. Sadly my brewing endeavours have not gone to plan over the last 6 months or so. I have ditched a hundred litres of beer because of a stubbornly persistent off flavour that I cannot shift.

Remember this ale? It was my return to the mash tun after a long break, and to be honest I was certain that it would be taint free thanks to a tightening of my brewing technique. Sadly it was not, so this is my next offensive against the nasty flavour; a new fully pimped home made wort chiller. It has far greater cooling capacity than my previous one and should cool things down far quicker and prevent me, through sheer impatience, from aerating the wort at too high a temperature. You see, my existing wort chiller takes an age to get wort down to room temperature. It'll drop the first fifty degrees centigrade very rapidly indeed which takes care of all my my cold break requirements, but I simply cannot wait the length of time required to get the wort down to 20 C. As a result of this, and other things peculiar to my brewing set up, the wort tends to get aerated at around 25 C and sometimes a little higher. My latest vexed theory is that this is oxidising my break filled wort and precipitating the pesky off flavour. This coming weekend should see the test of this theory, but in the meantime can any brewers out there let me know if they are impatient like me, or having greater brewing maturity, ensure that their wort is plenty cool before aeration?

6 comments:

Oblivious said...

Nice buy I do lover Maris Otter. Where did you get it from and is its pre-crushed?

Adeptus said...

NIce job on the chiller. How many metres of copper did you use? I used a monster 13m in my most recent one. During the summer it still took a while to chill (>30 mins), as the water was about 25°C out of the tap, but recently it's done the job in 20 mins as the tap water is icey (well, it's been -6 or so outside for the past few weeks, dropping to -15 at one point). However, my boiler has a built in/hidden element, and it tends to stay quite hot for a while after switching off. I suspect the kettle element types cool down with the wort.

Thom said...

The malt is pre crushed from our very own thehomebrewcompany.ie. It saves a fortune on shipping from England.

Barry, I used 10 metres in the chiller and was jealous of the 12 metres you got because bigger is better with these things, but I bought the copper from B&Q and 10 metres was the standard length. I might yet make a beast of chiller in the near future, which might work out looking a little more elegant than this one.

Artist formerly known as Wurst said...

Are you talking about hot side aeration? I seriously doubt that is what caused your off flavor. I stir my wort around the wort chiller and have never experienced strange flavors. Hot Side Aeration is very controversial. I'd try another yeast. Safale-04 is a strange one. I can't stand the slight tart flavor it produces.

Thom said...

yeah, the hot side aeration debate has been much discussed, but I can't seem to pin down this flavour. I have tasted it in the home brew of others over a range of yeast strains. It plagued my beer when I first went all grain but I eliminated it. Now the damn thing has returned. It could be attributed to my technique which isn't ideal thanks to a strange collection of equipment.

Artist formerly known as Wurst said...

Have you changed your water source?
What about temperature control during fermentation? Do you use S-04 exclusively? If your fermentation temperature gets over 21c., you're going to have problems. Good luck, hope you sort it out.