A Brief Aside ESB, or Why I Hate Windsor Yeast

This is a hot mess of a beer.

Next up on the Le Meow series was an ESB for my cat Liger.  Liger is an orange tabby, and I missed the color on this beer, so I decided I’d try again later for the Liger beer.  While complaining about this one, a friend suggested I just call it “A Brief Aside,” so I did.

The vision as for a pretty straight-forward ESB, one of my favorite beer styles.

Recipe:

  • 2lbs Maris Otter
  • 1oz UK Crystal 60
  • 1oz UK Chocolate
  • .75oz Kent Goldings
  • 1/3pkt Windsor yeast

When calculating the SRM for a good orange color, I shoud’ve used .8oz of chocolate and crystal, but that is a dumb amount of malt to have, so I rounded up.

I mashed in with 2.6qts of water at 163, which dropped to 150, where it held for 65 minutes.  I then sparged with 1 gallon of water, which ended up being way too much.  I’d picked up these grains at a different shop than usual which I wanted to check out, and their mill put out a much different looking grind that I’m used to.  Very crumbly.  I think this let to a really soft grain bed, which let a lot of water gush through, and didn’t absorb much.  I ended up with too much liquid, so had to boil an extra 25 minutes for volume.  Added .5oz of KG at 60, .25 at 0.

img_58021Between the extra specialty malts and the long boil, this beer came out a dark brown, closer to 37 SRM.  I pitched the Windsor and waited.

After about two weeks the beer was still, so I waited another three days and bottled.  Three weeks later I tasted.  This beer had a slightly phenolic, funky taste I didn’t particularly  like, and a bit too much fruity esters.  This was frustrating since I’d managed to keep the temp down pretty well.

Another three weeks and this beer became my second bottle bomb.img_59321

I was just steaming mad about this.  I had no way of knowing if the equipment that had touched the Wee Heavy was the same as this, or if I’d reused the Wee Heavy bottles.  It also occurred to me that both of these beers were with Windsor yeast, which, I’m beginning to learn from other homebrewers throughout the internet, has a tendency to stall out towards the end of fermenting.  So perhaps this beer wasn’t actually done when it got bottled.  Perhaps it caught a bug.  Perhaps both.

All I know is, bugs or not, I’ve experienced some combination of this yeast producing esters and phenols I don’t like, this yeast stalling out before it’s done, or this yeast being unlucky and getting contaminated.  I have a half packet left, so I’ll give it one more try, otherwise I think I’m pretty done with Windsor yeast.

After this bomb, I soak everything I own in diluted bleach for a while and rinse thoroughly.  Any bottles sitting waiting to be reused I recycle.  Hopefully this issue doesn’t come back again.

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