Friday, June 5, 2009

Mr. Crowley Black Ale - Now with Big Coffee Flavor

This week has been a new learning experience for me in regards to homebrewing. As I might have mentioned, a couple of weeks ago I brewed a huge Russian Imperial Stout. I decided to try to make another beer from the second runnings, because I knew that other people had done similar things, and it turned out pretty good.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I added honey to the second beer, which I dubbed Mr. Crowley, figuring it would help out with the gravity. I used a dry yeast, and it went from a starting gravity of 1.042 to a final gravity of 1.012, or about 4.2% ABV. Not bad. Didn't figure it would be a very heavy beer. Initial tastings of the final gravity were chocolatey and coffee-like. I thought it was...interesting, but still drinkable. I threw it in the fridge for a week to clarify it; it's something I've seen done to ales and I thought it would be cool to try, since if the fermenter fit, it would enable me to also lager in the fridge.

I took the beer out of the fridge and decided to dry hop it with an ounce of Simcoe hops. I sanitized a hop bag and shoved it into the carboy. I think next time, I'll just dump the hops in and siphon through a hop bag when I put it in the bottling bucket. A day after I did this, little floaties started to appear on top of the beer. Not a lot, and after the third day, it appeared that they were disappearing. Not sure what this was all about, but I thought it meant the beer got infected, which doesn't mean that you'll get sick if you drink it, just that the beer will have some off-flavors.

Last night, after 5 days, I pulled the hop bag out, and took a gravity sample. The aroma of Simcoe hops coming out of the top of the fermenter was amazing. Still at 1.012, which I expected. Poured the sample in a glass.

It smelled like coffee. Serious coffee. And it tasted like coffee, as well. Strong, black coffee that was 66 degrees. It was definitely not infected.

I walked the glass two blocks to my fellow brewer's house. He drank it. Swished it around. He said, "Did you put coffee in this?" I told him I did not.

I'm not sure I should still bottle this, but I'm curious as to find out what it will taste like after being bottled.

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