When brews go bad……

….don’t lose hope too soon! This post is about a batch of oatmeal stout I did which suffered almost every conceivable fuck up during the brewing process and yet almost miraculously has emerged as a really nice smooth and drinkable beer. I was pretty much convinced this one would end up down the drain but I soldiered on anyway and for now at least it looks like its beaten the odds and produced something drinkable. The moral is if it smells and tastes ok it probably is so don’t rush to ditch a brew if things aren’t going to plan stick it out and the brewing gods may yet favour you. Anyway heres what went down.

I was brewing an oatmeal stout from the Chris Colby recipe book as I thought this would be a nice simple brew to knock up using some recently acquired equipment that I wanted to dial in (haha hindsights a motherfucker sometimes!). Everything started out pretty well and I had all the kit and ingredients in place for a nice stress free brewday so off I went, mashing in I could see this was potentially going to be a tricky one as the oats created a really thick gummy porridge out of the grist but I was confident some modifications to the tun I had made would cope fine. Come time to drain the tun the wort began flowing beautifully and I started to relax then bang it comes to a dead stop after about 4 litres have drained…shit. I tried stirring it up and adding some more sparge water but no this fucker was stickier than the king of kleptomaniacs fingers. So I had to go nuclear and tip the whole lot out into a mash bag and drain that into a bucket. Obviously this also resulted in wort going all over the place and a shed that looked like an oversize drip tray at the end.

I couldn’t really do any sort of sparge and as a result missed my target OG by about 5 points, not a massive problem but it wasn’t helping my mood at this point as I was already seriously pissed off with this brew! Luckily the rest of the brewday went more smoothly and it was safely in the FV a couple of hours later. I decided to try out a different dry yeast on this one and pitched some Muntons Standard yeast (I’d heard this was a decent strain from somewhere and thought I’d test it). Now Muntons sell this stuff in 6g packets same as what you get with a lot of kit brews so I think lets pitch 2 packs so theres plenty and I won’t end up with a stuck ferment……

After a few days I did a quick SG check as it was looking a bit quiet and it had got down to 1.020, hmmm seems like this yeast is working pretty quick I thought should be done inside a week at this rate. So I leave it alone and don’t test it again until the day I planned to bottle it, yep you guessed it the SG is still at 1.020 stuck bloody fermentation. I decide that this batch will be known as ‘You fucking twat stout’ as that phrase has now been repeated several times during the brew! I decide to rouse the existing yeast and then for extra measure pitched a small amount of US05 into it as well. The following day I see what I think is a little krausen forming again and think ‘sweet thats that sorted’, I give it a couple more days and then open it up to check the gravity. Thats not krausen its some rank looking white mould laying on the surface of the wort, fanfuckintastic this ones going down the drain I think BUT the SG is down to 1.013 and it actually tastes OK so I think fuck it lets bottle it anyway hoping to avoid too much of my new brewhouse skank ending up in the bottles. Loads of bits of skank still went in the bottles. This picture doesn’t really do justice to the true horror as it was halfway though racking to the bottling bucket and a lot of the mould had stuck to the sides but it still looks pretty grim-

So I give it a few days and open up a bottle for a quick tester WOOSHH stout volcano and more mess to clean up in the shed ‘YOU FUCKING TWAT!!!!!’. At this point I’m ready to bin it all off and accept defeat, its obviously infected which is why its so overcarbed but wait once I actually manage to direct some of it into a glass instead of all over the fucking walls its still tasting kinda nice, no obvious off flavours or sourness hmmm strange, then it hits me I bottled at 1013 and it had US05 in it. That yeast always drops lower than that for me especially with a relatively low OG like this brew had, its probably fermented down another 3 points or more on top of the priming sugar.

So last chance saloon for the YFT Stout, put it in a really cold fridge for a few days and then try to release the pressure. It works, kind of, theres still quite a bit of stout escaping out of the bottles but its a steady foaming rather than an attempt to escape orbit so I stick with it and let them fizz away for a while before recapping. Back on the shelf to condition with me hoping that they wont now turn into stout grenades!

Anyway being a patient type it got a whole extra day of conditioning before I sample a bottle fully expecting to taste something akin to ditchwater……

Its OK, actually its better than OK its silky smooth easy drinking and theres no off flavours or anything else that seems wrong WTF! how has this beer made it! To say I was shocked is an understatement but it just goes to show how difficult it actually is to ruin a batch, after all I did my best to destroy this one and it still emerges Lazarus like to become a pretty good brew. Heres to you YFT Stout, Cheers!

2 Comments on “When brews go bad……

  1. Will it be as nice without your Skank Wrangling exploits? I believe a repeat is in order to ascertain if the tastiness of the beverage is due to your brewing prowess or the filthy skank you cultured on top of that brew lol

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