Sunday, August 21, 2005
The making of a Balcony Beer
I brewed another batch of spiced summer ale, or what we like to call a "balcony beer" today. A balcony beer is what me and my wife call any beer that is thirst quenching, fresh, crisp, and light (in body and color.) It's good for a balcony beer to be visually appealing, too. The ability to see the sunlight filtered through the beer as bubbles of carbon dioxide percolate up the through the glass to sustain a bright, white, meringue-like foam.
The first batch of the spicy blonde turned out fantastic, even though I experience a stuck sparge. I was aiming even higher with this batch; as I added some more spices and herbs to the mix. Unfortunately, I had a stuck sparge with this batch, too. Seeing that the first batch stuck and turned out great, I probably shouldn't worry about this batch, but the fact that the last batch "stuck" and turned out okay made the situation no less frustrating. At first I was convinced that the problem was due to poorly milled grain; the grain I used from the St. Charles Homebrew Shop had a lot of flour to it. After almost an half hour of sparging the wort into my brew pot with a hand strainer and a ladle, I could see my phalse bottom and didn't see any grains stuck underneath it or in the tubing. So what was the problem? I think I needed more foundation water, as I simply dumped the half the grain in my mash tun (Gott cooler) and then mixed in about a gallon and a half of water. I probably should have added enough water to cover the phalse bottom and then about a pound of grain, instead of six pounds! Everything else about the brewing process was pretty normal, but I was worried the whole time about hot side aeration and a heavily oxidized final product.
Experiencing a stuck sparge again had me wondering if all-grain brewing is worth the trouble, but after cracking open one of my previous all-grain brews (my hoppy summer blonde ale brewed in early July), I was reminded of why it's worth it. (You can see for yourself by looking at the attached picture. The beer even looks good, again proving that it's a good "balcony beer", too.) There is no way that I could produce such a crisp and light ale with extract.