Sunday, May 13, 2012

Something's funky in the kitchen

I've had a carboy of blonde ale (actually more amber, than blonde) sitting in the kitchen and the story of its fermentation is a bit interesting. I started out pitching Wyeast 3711 French Saison, which didn't start up as I had hoped, with no visible krause after 48 hours. Getting nervous, I pitched some EC-1118 Champagne yeast, the only available yeast I had. This got things going rather quickly in less than six hours. Hurray!

I sampled this beer a couple weeks later and was not pleased -- too malty, too sweet and lacking flavor. I expected the Champagne yeast to ferment pretty clean (even at 78 degrees) but it left me craving for something different. I racked the beer to the secondary hoping that it would dry out a bit on its own, but in the back of my mind I started thinking of what else I could do with this beer.

After contemplating adding fruit to this beer I decided to add some more yeast --- sort of -- I added the dregs from one bottle of Boon Gueze Mariage Parfait from 2007. Two weeks passed and there was no activity and no pressure change in the airlock. A few days later there was a wisp of krausen on top, but no change in the airlock. That's when after having a few beers I decided to add the dregs from a two-year-old bottle of New Glarus Imperial Saison, a beer with a fairly tart flavor profile and a flavor I enjoyed. There was a decent amount of dregs. I had a lot of hope that something would happen.

A couple days later there was an inch-tall krausen in the next of the rather full carboy and activity in the airlock. This was followed by about 10 days of bubling in the airlock every minute or so. Things have since calmed down and I've sample the beer again. The gravity has changed by about 4-5 points, but what really has me impressed is the flavor profile: sweet at first, but then a dry tart finish with a biy of bitterness. The smell is slightly funky; that Champagne-like nose you sometimes get from a gueze or an Orval, slightly metallic and slightly phenolic with a bit of pear, certainly more interesting than what I sampled a few weeks ago.

So now I'm wondering what's next for this beer. Do I go ahead and bottle, freeing up the carboy, or do I let it sit? I'm thinking that if I'm really eager to bottle that I let it sit for at least a week and check the gravity again. If it hasn't changed I'll likely bottle.

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