Drunken Speculation

Grandson of a Homebrewer (Misguided Assumptions)

20130330_204305It’s been an epic fortnight of drinking since my first batch was bottled. You might think that we got stuck into the beers as soon as it matured but the drinking had more to do with trying to empty stubbies for the next batch than getting stuck into the current stuff. As of writing, I have 58 of the 70 required empties.

Presumably, you’ve taken the time to read the title so you may agree with me that it would make an excellent album title and also realised that something went wrong with my first batch.

I took a portion of my brew off and refrigerated it after one week of maturation (the minimum required by Coopers) and a second portion off after two weeks. Here are my tasting notes:

20130330_193543Week 1 batch
1. Very sweet, small bubbles, hard bottle, no hops? [first photo]
2. Not as sweet but more bitter, traces of hops, not sealed properly so quite flat. Watery with a bit of tang [shown right]
3. Better taste but not ideal. Half decent head and bubbles. Bit of bitterness. Hard bottle. [penultimate photo]
4. Sweet, doesn’t feel complete. Kinda squishy bottle. Very small bubbles
5. Sour taste is prevalent, even in this hard bottle. Got a decent head off a rough-as pour. [last photo]

Overall, lacking alcoholic strength. Think something is wrong.

week 2I’m drinking some of the Week 2 batch as I type [see right] and it is consistently better. It’s not fantastic but this batch is more carbonated and less tangy. It seems like that either:

  • I have a case of bacterial contamination, causing off smells, sour tangs and hangovers from hell, or
  • I have volatiles loose in my beer, wreaking havoc on my tastebuds which, in time and with maturity, will subside away.

My housemate’s brother, who is now also my housemate, sampled one of the beers and, with his experience, suspects something is going to go off and not in a good way. However, that was the week 1 batch, so I’m not certain but I’m inclined to think it was volatiles. It’s not undrinkable and it certainly hasn’t made me sick but it’s also certainly not what you would consider commercial quality. Time will tell.

20130330_193413That said, please indulge my self-quoting as I analyse my fundamental errors that may have led to this point:

It smelled a bit rank but I think that’s normal enough for proto-beer. I think.

I don’t think that’s right but still a bit unsure.

After fixing the cap, I realised that there was double the dextrose in this bottle and I’m looking forward to it exploding later this week

Turns out the grenade did not go off and was one of the better carbonated beers. It was shit tasting though and I only drank half of it.

I ended up fitting the caps with my thumbs, which seemed to seal them up tight enough.


Wrong. You have to screw them down as well. About half my bottles were not under pressure at the end of the week but the screwing down seems to have helped a bit.

so I’m going to drink thirty tallies, probably with a bit of outside help, so I have a set of glass bottles which will be the containers for my next brew

Most beer that comes in tallies (a 750mL bottle) are now twist top. There remain plenty of stubbies that are pop top on the market, hence the opening score of 58/70, which should be over 70 by the time I get to brew my next batch.

Any idiot could mix together water, yeast and the molasses-like substance that comes out of the Coopers beer can.

They sure can. Can they do it without contaminating the beer with bacteria though? Debatable. Let’s let the internet decide.

In other news, I discovered that my grandfather used to homebrew. I had no idea but it’s an interesting coincidence. He died a few years ago but mum never got around to throwing out his brewing materials. I am now in possession of a well-worn how-to homebrewing book by John Cook, an aged notebook and some typewritten notes.

Once I feel confident enough to pursue brewing without the Coopers can (next batch is still likely to be the Dark Ale), I plan to make my grandfather’s ripped off recipe for Irish Stout. There’s entry in the notebook from four days before I was born. In fact, he was racking it two days before and two days after I was born. Obviously, he couldn’t wait to get into it. Must run in the family.

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