In Over My Head From the Start
I’ll just issue a little glimpse of the future right now: my two greatest challenges are temperature and patience. This is the basic lesson of every failed batch.
So it was fall and I’d thought about brewing a batch of beer for a long time. My trivia team hadn’t met much this year; I’d had a wedding, another two members were edging close to their wedding, it’d been a busy year. We’d spoke about possibly starting to brew beer. We had spent our time as a team drinking various craft brews at our trivia locations, and it seemed like a fun new activity.
It was also the head of pumpkin spice season. In the midst of people complaining about how prolific the flavor was, I was glad to get neck deep in pumpkin beer. I decided that we should brew a pumpkin spice latte beer, which I would name Porter: Seasonal Limited (get it? PSL.)
So how would one go about making such a beer. Well, lets get some dark malts to make it a porter. Let’s make it an imperial so it’s really a big beer. Lets add lactose so it has more body and sweetness. Let’s put cold brew coffee in it. Let’s make a steeped tea of pumpkin spices and put that in there. Let’s, let’s, let’s….
Somewhere in all this planning I managed to neglect: how do you make a good, successful porter?
My previous wheat beer batch had been such a breeze that I figured this brewing nonsense was easy. Well, that was wrong.
- 1.5lb 2 row pale
- .5lb crystal 60
- .13lb chocolate malt
- 4oz lactose
- 1/2pkt S-04
- 1/2oz Nugget
- pumpkin spices, cold brew coffee
Mash grains at 150ish for 60 minutes, sparge, boil with an obscene amount of Nugget (calculates out to about 120IBU), chill carelessly, pitch yeast around like 80 degrees or something, put in closet on third floor apartment during a really warm and long Indian Summer at like 78 degrees for three weeks.
Carboy took off right away, fermented like crazy. Me, amateur brewer, got so excited at all the ferment activity, especially given the last beer’s abrupt stalled ferment. So excited, in fact, that I brewed another (failed) beer before getting to taste this one.
Two weeks later, bottled with table sugar. Tasted the beer while bottling and noticed that it was a bit bitter and there was a funny flavor, but shrugged it off.
Made a super cool label that I am still proud of.
Two weeks later, tasted this absolute nightmare of a beer.
It tasted like a bitter, gross rubber glove. Somewhere underneath was a good beer.
At the time, I had no idea what happened. I’d later sort it out pretty clearly.
This beer: grand failure.