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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not Everything Is Perfect

Over the last several months, I've been conducting a brewing experiment that, uh, hasn't gone well. But, I keep going back to an old quote, I think attributed to Henry Ford. "Every failure is just one step closer to success."

(Artful screen dissolve as we flash back.)

I was eating some cold breakfast cereal one day when I happened to read the ingredients. Sugar was second. A lightning bolt of inspiration hit me, and I thought, "How could I get this into a beer?"

ATTEMPT NO. 1 - I made a one gallon batch of porter, using a pound of dry extract, eight ounces of crystal malt, eight ounces of chocolate malt, half an ounce of hops, and three cups of cereal. I tossed the cereal into the boil. The flavor was delicious, but there was WAY too much sediment.

ATTEMPT NO. 2 - I decided to try all-grain, and include the cereal as part of the mash. This way, any sediment from the cereal would be removed with the spent grain. Color and sediment were just what I had hoped for, but the flavor wasn't quite there. And, after a couple of weeks, I heard "BLAM!". Almost every bottle had exploded.

ATTEMPT NO. 3 - I made a second all-grain batch, but this time I increased the cereal, and halved the priming sugar. The flavor was close to what I had hoped for. The bottles were OK for about 3 weeks, but I heard one go off, and immediately moved the rest to a safe place.

And that's where I am, now. The question I keep asking is, why are the bottles exploding? Is there something wrong with my mash? Not getting enough conversion, and a secondary fermentation taking place? Is there some thing else in the cereal, retarding the yeast? Should I just let it ferment longer? I know there will be an Attempt No. 4, I just haven't worked out the parameters, yet.