Jun 222009



Well, you can’t win them all.

I kegged up the summer wheat beer I brewed up a few weeks ago, and I knew I had a problem as soon as I opened the fermentor and the rich smell of ripe bananas washed over me. My first thought was some sort of infection – I had used Wyeast’s 3333 – German Wheat and expected a nice, clean flavor like an American Wheat (my first yeast choice, which the homebrew shop was out of). However, a little reseach led me to the fact that 3333 can indeed throw out banana esters when fermented a little on the high end of the temperature range. I had fermented this in the kitchen and the ambient temperature probably ranged from 65-75°F. Here is where laziness came back to haunt me – I have a fermenting refrigerator and forgot how important a cool fermentation is for a clean tasting wheat. I should’ve used the fridge and had this beer fermenting in the very low sixties.

Anyway, what’s done is done, and I now have an interesting brew on my hands. There is a definite banana flavor and aroma there – mixed with the citrus notes from the grains of paradise, the flavor reminds me of those Tropicana orange/banana fruit juice blends. The base reminds me a bit of Sam Adams’ Summer, which is sort of what I was aiming for, but the banana really throws it off. It isn’t fully carbonated yet – adding even a touch of carbonation helped the beer even out quite a bit, and I’m hoping some cold conditioning and proper carbonation might save it in the end. It is definitely drinkable at this early stage, but it is certainly not my best work, and a problem which could have been easily avoided. Maybe it will wind up drinking like a slightly weird Hefeweizen – I’m crossing my fingers.

I was hoping this would be my first competition beer – I might enter it just to see what the judges make of the flavor, but I’m not bringing home any Best of Shows with this one…

Jun 012009

Blichmann Engineering's BeerGun

Blichmann's BeerGun

With my newfound desire to enter my beer into some competitions, I needed a way to get it out of the kegs and into bottles. I’ve been messing around with filling growlers and trying out a Carbonator Cap for homebrew portability, but I wanted a way to bottle my beer that would preserve the quality and allow me to send some off to the judges. Enter the BeerGun by Blichmann Engineering.

Are any of you using this beast? It’s supposed to be the pinnacle of draft-to-bottle technology.

For those unfamiliar with the issues of going from keg to bottle, beer will foam when exposed to rapid pressure changes – this makes filling bottles from a pressurized keg difficult. The only real solution used to be counter-pressure bottle fillers, which are unwieldy contraptions that pressurize the bottle and allow you to fill it without the beer foaming all over the place. The BeerGun is supposed to be a much more elegant solution, gradually reducing the pressure of the beer and allowing for one-person operation.

It should be here in a couple of days, and I’ll be sure to post a full review once I get a chance to use it. I’ve already missed the NY State Fair competition deadline, so I’ll have to check the AHA/BJCP calendar and see what my next target is.