What’s Brewing? April 2020 Edition

As mentioned last time, my brewing activity has slowed as we continue our general shut-down here in SoCal. Even so, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few sessions and enjoy some of my previously tapped kegs.

Beer Batch Updates

  • I kegged my imperial stout for the homebrew club project on April 11, and sent it off for transfer to the club barrel (all done without in-person contact, of course!). The final gravity was 1.030, down from 1.105, for 10.2% abv, and I ended up with just a shade below 5 gallons. The flavor is quite rich, and the Belgian character of the yeast comes through nicely. I’ll be interested to see what it tastes like when barrel aged with everyone else’s contributions!
  • I kegged my Schell’s Pils Clone on 4 April 2020 (using a purged keg and closed transfer), and it has a final gravity of 1.010 (for 5.7% abv). I saved the yeast culture for a future brew. I just moved the beer into the keezer (after a shade under two weeks lagering), because I had finished my kolsch and had an open tap. The beer really needs a little more time to condition, and should be quite a bit better in a week or two. It had a slightly harsh yeast edge to it during the first day or two on tap, and has improved dramatically since then. I’ve noticed this issue with WLP830 (White Labs’ German lager yeast) before, because it flocculates fairly slowly. The head and head retention on this beer are amazing! I can’t wait to see where it ends up when fully conditioned.
  • Two weeks ago (April 4), I brewed this year’s batch of Alta California Lager. The 2020 edition is vastly simplified, using flaked corn instead of a cereal mash with grits. I also am using the Mexican lager yeast strain from Imperial (instead of the White Labs version), because that’s what was available at my local homebrew shop. After two weeks at 51°, I let it free-rise to 60° to finish up. I will likely keg it in another week or so (but am not in a particular rush).
  • On Saturday, I spooled up my Celtic Elk Irish Stout, as a quick turn-around beer. I figure it will be ready to keg in around 10 days. As an experiment, I’m going to carbonate it in the keg with corn sugar, as a way to reduce the amount of CO2 gas I’m using.
Schell’s Pils Clone, with that beautiful foam cap!

What’s On Tap?

  • Wildfire IPA. Since posting the tasting, this beer has continued to clarify, and the hops are really singing now. I love this recipe!
  • Czech-Style Dark Lager. This is another great beer. I am enjoying it more and more as it continues to condition; I suppose it’s growing on me!
  • Schell’s Pils Clone. As mentioned above, it’s got a little ways to go in terms of maturing. I’ll post a review once the beer is in prime shape.

What’s Coming Up?

  • Within the next weekend or two, I’m going to do an altbier, with some of the yeast saved from my kolsch a few weeks back.
  • I’m going to try something in the Dortmunder Export world, because it’s one of the few (?only) pale lagers that is okay with heavily mineralized water. I may try to reduce the carbonate load a bit with slaked lime, but that’s a topic for another post.

New Equipment

  • I want to learn more about our tap water, and how it varies through the year. The annual test reports are handy, but they don’t tell me much about my water at-the-moment. I recently invested in the LaMotte water test kit, and have run the tests a few times already. Look for an upcoming blog post on the topic!