Friday, March 28, 2008

Dubbel Trouble

Yeah, yeah, corny title, but it's the truth. Here's the story:

I had come up with this awesome recipe for a Belgian dubbel, bought a 17 ounce hockey puck-looking lump of palm sugar from the Asian grocery store, and cultured yeast from a bottle of Chimay Red. I thought everything was good, brewed it up on Monday without incident, and pitched what I thought was an active starter (with about .5 inch or more of slurry at the bottom of my flask) at 64 degrees. I had this idea after reading on various forums that I should pitch around there and then just let the temps go up, so I pitched at 64 exactly and left the primary in an upstairs closet which would be warmer than downstairs (where I usually ferment).

Monday night - nothing
Tuesday morning - nothing, swirled it good
Tuesday night - nothing, swirled (starting to get nervous)
Wednesday morning - nothing (freaking out)
Wednesday night - nothing

Wednesday night I went and bought a smack pack of 1214, went home, and turned on the space heater for a few hours and swirled every 20 minutes or so. I pumped it up to about 68 and then at about 9 I decided to activate the smack pack. At 10 I pitched it, even though it wasn't swelled up too much, and added 2 tiny drops of olive oil as I poured it in.

Thursday morning - nothing
Thursday after work - nothing - so I turned on the space heater again and finally said F this and pitched a pack of Munton's Gold dry yeast that I had sitting around. As of this morning, it's just starting to throw tiny amounts of CO2 after I swirl.

I refuse to give up on this batch! So does anybody care to place bets?
  1. Will this make beer?
  2. Will it taste like dirty water?

In other news, the Hopslam will be brewed tomorrow!


SWART said...

Hey guys, sorry I disappeared for a few weeks there. As someone who has had a lot of experience with fermentation lags and problems I can feel your pain. Ive had two beers where I had to pitch 1-2 extra, and different, yeasts to get it going. One came out ok, it was a English brown ale that came out tasting more like an Irish ale. The second ended up being closer to dirty water with a sour aftertaste. Im sure you'll get something good out of it.

I just tried my phat tyre last night and was a little disapointed. It hasnt carbed well yet. It has been two weeks since bottling so Im wondering, Brian, how long it took yours to get going. Taste wasnt bad. I compared with an actual Fat Tire and it definetely had more of a bready taste to it. My ESB smells teriffic and Ill be bottling that next weekend.

Well, its nice to know that I am not the only one that has these brewing problems.

rich.tessler said...

Jeremy, I was beginning to worry about you. Yeah, I'm feeling pretty dumb right now, apparently the beer gods thought I was getting cocky so they decided to throw me some curves. The dubbel is totally rocking right now, one giant bubble through the blowoff tube every 2 seconds. I'm not sure what yeast took off, so I took it downstairs because it was fermenting at 70 degrees. If it's the belgian yeast that would be fine, but if it's the dry yeast, there's no telling what the optimum temp should be, so I decided to bring it to a cooler ambient temp and am using the swamp cooler method to drop the temp fast.

My Wee Heavy is still not carbonated either. I bottled on March 15 and they are still quite flat. I'm wondering if mine is so slow because it sat in primary for 5 weeks and secondary for another 5. Maybe the yeast are just pooped out.

brian.meier said...

Hey guys,
sorry to hear about the massive lag times. I've had some brews do that as well and until it starts to ferment, that's about all you can think about. It's maddening. I believe in the past I ended up pitching dry yeast pack just because i had a couple of them floating around.

As far as the Fat tyre, mine took a long time before the flavor mellowed out. I would say give it another 2 weeks. It was probably 2 months before mine was fun to drink.

I'm having the same issue with the coffee stout. The coffee aroma and flavor are way overpowering and it's hard for me to enjoy. So, I'll probably have this on tap for quite a while. I'll probably share a bunch with friends as well.

I siphoned my dubble from primary to secondary this weekend. What I've notice about this beer so far is that it has had dramatic color changes. I think it's due to whatever is floating in there. I didn't filter out the hops when I poured the wort out. I've been snapping pix as well. Pictures of carboys aren't the most exciting pix however.

I received my hop rhizomes today. So far the plan is pot them now, plant later. I am devising plans to completely tear up my neighbors fence and bushes, I think a bunch of concrete is getting ripped out too, just so that I can grow these. If you haven't notice, i'm very excited to grow hops at this point.

Sunday I helped out with an all grain. It was pretty cool, and I got pretty drunk too. There's a lot of equipment, and much more precise temperatures and timing. I think eventually I'll get there, but my next step (and next brew) will be full 5 gal boil and whole hops.

brian.meier said...

Well, how is the Dubble dude?

rich.tessler said...

The dubbel finally took off, and now the active fermentation is over. I think I'll probably take a sample this weekend to see how far it's dropped.