Let Your Beer Grow Up

A little age isn’t a bad thing.  Take a look at the smoked wheat after it had some extra time in the fridge to settle:

Smoked wheat aged

And it’s not just the color that improved.  The flavors really matured, blended, and mellowed.  And all that from two extra weeks in the fridge!  Let’s compare that to the first pour from this beer:

Smoked wheat in glass


Look how the lees have settled and the color’s a bit more reddish brown.  Overall it was like a different beer entirely, much more body and taste.  Where the young beer had almost no aftertaste and the flavor lasted about one second, with a strong hit of smokiness and wheat and not any hops, the aged version was something you could really sip and enjoy, easily twice the beer of its younger brother.  So this is the trick of homebrewing:  see if you can be patient enough to let your beer turn into something great.  While I’m finding a lot of similarities with baking bread, brewing requires a lot more patience.

This weekend I bottled up the lemongrass wheat with the help of a siphon racking cane and a spring-loaded stopper on the bottling tube.  Trust me, make your life easier when it comes to bottling and buy these things–hose clamps and gravity siphoning are for field hospitals not the kitchen.  I also simplified brewing by getting a large funnel with a removable snap-in strainer.  Imagine not having to balance a illogical rectangular funnel in a bottle while holding a steaming hot heavy pot of wort and not spilling.  Good, now stop imagining that because it’s much more annoying in real life.  I also bought a large washable mesh bag for the mashing process, something like an ogre’s teabag.  When I tasted some of the spent grains I understand 2 things:  1)why the chickens love this stuff so much, 2)what the yeast has to eat over fermentation.  The spent grains are like brown sugar and oatmeal, a sweet grainy mash that would make a good breakfast cereal on its own, except for the husks which would tear through your intestines like shrapnel through a fabric troop glider.  Besides my other goodies this weekend I bought a second gallon jug and grains for two new brews:  traditional English ale and an oatmeal stout.  I brewed up the ale and it’s fermenting now.  I’ll make the stout this week so I have them both running and ready to bottle in about 10-14 days.  And this time I’ll let them sit in the fridge for a while if I can be patient.  If.

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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