Monday, June 14, 2010

SR4: Bottles of bitter

SR4, my tweaked version of SR3, is in the bottle. I think I'm in good shape, but I'm not certain.
After bottling and taking the final gravity measurement for SR3, I tasted the fermented wort (I'm sure there's a name for beer in this state, and it might just be beer.), and it tasted surprisingly good. That's not to say it tasted good the same way a finished beer tastes, but for a concoction that was still four weeks for being ready, it was kind of sweet and slightly bitter. Two dimensional, but it gave me enough to get me excited. Sure enough, the finished product was good.
Of course, I decided to mess with the recipe. Hoping to increase the hops flavors and aroma, I added more Simcoe and dry hopped with a lot more Cascade, but I didn't change the amount of bittering hops. And aside from going with a lighter toast on the crystal malt, I didn't change the malt bill. So when I tasted the fermented wort after taking the F.G. on SR4 (1.018 = 7.1 A.B.V.), I was surprised by how bitter it was. Not undrinkably bitter, just more bitter than SR3's fermented wort. I'm sure it's just a result of the additional Simcoe and that the beer will be fine. It actually reminded me of flavor I got from SR2, the first IPA I made, which is a good sign (the beer was pretty good). And considering the additional malt extract I added for bottle fermentation, the beer should round out nicely.
The lighter crystal malt I used this time did give me the color I was looking for. SR3 was a bit too amber, but SR4 looks like it's going to be a nice burnt orange.

I can't say that dry hopping with three times as much Cascade hops made my kitchen three times as hop stinky (still a good name) during bottling, but if I get a nice big hop aroma in the finished beer, it'll be worth it. If not, I'll dial it back to an ounce per batch.
Because of all those hops, I racked (transferred) the beer from the fermentor to the carboy a day before bottling so I could remove all the hops and let everything settle. I think that resulted in losing some of the beer. Although I always start with a five gallon batch, I seem to end up with various amounts. With SR3, I had several ounces left over after bottling 48 beers. With SR1, Sr2 and SR4, I didn't quite get two cases (47 beers with SR4). Odd, but I'll sacrifice some beer to avoid getting too much hops residue and dead yeast in my beer.

And finally, a hop update. My Cascade hops are kicking ass, having climbed up half the guide wire, while my Willamette are doing OK, and the lone Centennial hop plant in the middle is taking its sweet ass time. I'm not expecting much out of any of them this year, so the slow growth rates for the Centennial and Willamette hops isn't a big deal. It is curious, though. They were all planted in the same rich soil, and all get the same amount of light and water. But the Cascade is clearly the alpha hop. (Get it? Yeah, I'm a dork.)


bread and beer said...

Question , Are you always a bottler? Just bottled A clone of Red Chair IPA.

Drew said...

I am, but only because I don't have a system for kegging. Hopefully, I'll make the change by the end of the year. Bottling isn't too bad, but it is a pain in the ass.