So the Sorachi was still putting out a bubble now and then even after the Nelson had stopped. This continued for a couple days, then ceased. The Nelson began to floc out and drop clear, but the Sorachi just stayed cloudy. I gave the Sorachi a rock now and then to redistribute the yeast in hopes that it would finish up. As time passed the beers continued to look very different, with no change in the Sorachi at all, and the Nelson clearing up considerably.
I began to have some stuck fermentation fears. I was considerably frustrated, given that these beers got the exact same pitch. I gave the Sorachi a warm bath for an afternoon, and that got a bit more bubbles out, but who knows if that was from fermentation or from expansion in the vessel and some CO2 escaping.
This afternoon, with both beers still looking exactly the same as they had, I decided I’d take a gravity reading. While this is always a good idea to determine if fermentation has ended, I’m usually hesitant to do it in my small format brewing. When brewing larger batches, the pulled sample can just be drank to taste where the beer is headed, or disposed of. If you’re brewing 18K+ milliliters of beer, you can stand to lose the 100ml for the sample now and then. But when you’re only expecting to get about ten beers, and each sample is a third of a beer, it starts to matter. Pouring the sample back in is an option, but all the disruption will add some oxygen to the beer, not to mention that your beer has now touched your thief or whatever tool used to extract the beer, the testing vial, the hydrometer, and is now back into your total batch; you’ve just exposed the beer to three pieces of equipment, any of which could’ve had contaminants.
At this point I really need to free up a fermenter for the saison, and if the Sorachi is, indeed, stuck, I’d like to have that information and determine my next step. So I sanitized my testing vial, hydrometer, and turkey baster thief. I popped open the Nelson, and whoa, it smells lovely. Pulled a sample and measured, put it back. Clocked in at 1.010, which is exactly where I was expecting.
Did the same for the Sorachi. Didn’t smell quite as nice, but still good. (Worth mentioning: I’ve been super sick all week so my sense of smell has been almost gone.) Gave the hydrometer a little spin to clear off any bubbles, double checked the temperature for any adjustments and…what the hell? These beers finished exactly the same.
Guess which one is which.
So, I don’t know. The cloudiness is due to?:
- Different levels of hop oil in the two different hops
- Different levels of trub that made it into the respective fermentors
- Different amounts of irish moss in each boil
- Different speed of crash cooling
I have no idea. I could cold crash and gelatin fine both, but since the hops are the star of the show here and there’s some debate about whether fining causes hop oils to drop out, I’m not going to. So the beers will just have to look the same. Maybe some time and gravity in the bottle will get the Sorachi to clear up. But I’m going to go ahead and call these beers done and get them bottled. They finished at right around 5% abv. I go into a sanitation frenzy, given how much equipment will be touching these beers next, and assemble my bottling bucket. Once everything is all set up I:
- Measure out .86oz of corn sugar into 1/2c water for each bottling vessel
- Siphon all of the Sorachi into a sterilized pot with the priming sugar
- Siphon all of the Nelson into the sterilized bottling bucket with the priming sugar
- Using my bottling wand, bottle two bombers and two 12oz bottles of the Nelson
- Using a siphon, bottle two bombers and two 12oz bottles of the Sorachi
- Siphon the rest of the Sorachi into the rest of the Nelson
- Using the bottling wand, bottle two more bombers and four more 12oz bottles of the blend
- Cap them, and put them into my conditioning tub (a large Rubbermaid tub to safely contain any bottle bombs)
Voilà! Now I’ll just let those sit for three weeks to condition and they’ll be ready. I made a pair of simple labels for the twins but still need to work on a “Sweetie IPA” label for the blend.
[Tasting notes and Sweetie label were added to the original brew day post after this post was written.]
This beer is coming along fine. My prior stuck ferment worries seem unnecessary, as this beer has one of the thickest yeast cakes I’ve ever had. It’s bubbling along with a gentle champagne cascade of bubbles and everything seems to be where it should be.
Thea Brett Saison
I’d been agitating and swirling my brett culture a few times a day, and wasn’t sure much was happening. It smelled right, but I couldn’t be sure if that was just the tiny bit of the origin beer in the new wort. After two days, there was some signs of life on the top of the culture.
I got a little prematurely excited about what I thought might be an early pellice, but have now realized was just the start of the krausen. The next day it had a decent krausen on it, so I kept agitating and swirling a few times a day, for a week. By the end of the week, there was a visible amount of yeast on the bottom. Not an exciting amount, and probably not enough to have pitched just that slurry to ferment a full batch, but I had successfully
propagated and stepped up a tiny, tiny amount of yeast from a store-bought beer, so that was pretty exciting. The store bought beer was itself a Brett Saison, so certainly some of this yeast is saison yeast, but hopefully some is Brett.
I decanted some of the beer off the top of the Brett culture to taste. It tasted very Brett-y, which again could just be the original beer, but fingers crossed. I pitched it into a sanitized carboy, and siphoned the saison off of its trub and into secondary.
Down to only two beers in active fermentation. One of my carboys will be occupied by this Brett beer for an extended amount of time, but I’m hoping to get the other three back into a rotation where I can brew one batch and bottle another every week, so that each batch gets three weeks to ferment, and I have a steady stream of brew being produced.