Hello, friends. Its been a bit of time since you last heard from us and even longer since we last brewed. A lot of things have been going on in our lives outside of The Tail. Two of us have just moved to new homes and one of us just put another year in the books (Happy Birthday, Joey!). While out celebrating Joey’s Birthday at Jimmy’s 43 , we had ourselves some great, inspiring beers. AVERY’S, Belgian White: The White Rascal was one in particular. Such a great crisp, cloudy, refreshing white ale with a nice spicy finish. So, we thought to ourselves, “what better beer to brew next than our first Belgian White?”
This brew day would prove to be one of the most interesting ones that we have ever had. First off, with the time spent away from brewing, our brew-system put on some minor surface and flash rust to its exterior. Just the sort of thing you love to see right before you start a four hour brew session. So, we tacked on a couple more hours and began to take care of business and make her look as good as new. LET THE BREWING BEGIN! While the session was going along smoothly we began to tackle some other questionable situations inside. Two “dead” or “spoiled” conditioning brews. Granted a beer can “technically” never spoil. That is to say that nothing so harmful can happen to a conditioning beer to make you seriously ill. After all, one of the reasons beer was made and drank 100’s of years ago was because people’s plain, old drinking water was near fatal to consume! Can you imagine how unsanitary dark-age brewers were? Exactly. Both of these beers have been conditioning for over a month of dry hopping! One for almost two! The youngest, our Winter Break, a tertiary-seasonal ale, created to celebrate the subtle tease of spring and the break from winter. When we took the air-lock off of the carboy the aroma was one of the most complex and horrible things we have ever smelled. At first, sweet malt and citra hop goodness, leading into a common alcoholic-CO2 burning finish. But deeply layered in the nuances of this rich aroma was its most rancid. If anyone of you has ever had the pleasure of experiencing what Thai Fish Sauce smells like… now imagine it in a beer. Being the ever-learning brewers that we are, we knew we still had to try it and we did. Delicious! The off aromas were being emitted from the near-rotting, rehydrated dry hops but beneath that decay was beauty! A nice malty, medium spiced winter ale with a strong and sweet hop rounding it out. Success. Does the concept still need some work? Sure. But this is one less beer that will be going down any drain. Success. Speaking of DRAINS… We’ll get to that later.
After a quick look back outside to connect some hoses and check on our boil we popped open the lid of the most questionable beer. Over two months ago we were brewing our 90 minute IPA to retool the recipe and get some kinks out. Through certain calculations and off-theories we ended up with an over concentrated wort and a gravity way off from our original attempts. The only yeast we had was clearly not going to be strong enough for this wort. After a couple of days and many gravity readings we decided to re-pitch a yeast-starter and see if we could get the fermentation process back on track and save this beer. With a considerable amount of time and numerous calculations this beer still seemed to not be responding to our efforts to right it. So, we sort of chalked it up to a stuck fermentation and nearly forgot about it because of the mounting schedules of our personal lives. Which takes us to yesterday. We opened the lid and it reeked of vinegar! A sweet, boozy but foul vinegar. However, just as we were proved wrong 20 minutes prior we knew there is always a chance. Low and behold… another great and extremely interesting beer! Now, this was supposed to be a 90 minute IPA but because of our over-reducing the wort and unanticipated conditioning we created something we are now hoping to call our, Barely Wine. Because it tastes just like a Barley Wine but a bit more restrained with an abv of 9.3%. We bottled our spoils, pitched the spices into our Belgian White and finished the brew session. All that was left to do was clean. It was going as fine as cleaning goes until I went to look for some 409 under the sink.
To my surprise… A FULL ON KITCHEN FLOOD! Kayne’s sink pipes were leaking everywhere! Here we were at 8:45: we put in 9 hours of strait work, we were 4 hours passed our estimated end time and we now have a flood to deal with! The floor was sticky, the counters were full, brew equipment was everywhere. The place was a disaster.
We weren’t in the best of spirits but after a late night run to Lowe’s, Kayne had the pipes fixed in no time. Soon his kitchen was back to normal, our Belgian White was happily fermenting, and we still had resurrected two great beers. All of this sounds like a pain in the ass and a lot of it was but to be perfectly honest, that’s brewing. Its hard. You have to sort of give in what you’d like to get out of it. And if thats time, money, drinking rot, cleaning rust off of freezing cold metal with wet sponges and late night trips to Lowe’s to fix exploding pipes than that’s fine by us. Thats brewing.
Thanks for reading,