We were excited about two things last Friday. Number one, our EPA had been kegged and carbonated. It was ready for a taste and some bottling. We had really been looking forward to tasting this beer. Brewmaster Seth had made some changes to the recipe to beef up the hops character. Number two, we had put our EPA into a shiny new/used keg. Most wouldn’t be excited about a new-to-you keg, but after the trouble we had with one of our other kegs, this was a sight for sore eyes.
Let me back up a week. The EPA was kegged on Friday June 13th. Remember this?
When we opened the fermenter the hops aroma was amazing. It was transferred, filtered, and gently put into its new home, the most recently purchased keg. All that was left was to set the CO2 and let it do it’s thing. Which is what we did…and always do. Pretty standard stuff.
Then we wait. We wait a whole week. Impatiently. It’s all I could think about. I even told Brian and Seth, “if this beer tastes half as good as it smells, I don’t know that I’ll be able to drink any other beer.” I meant it.
Let’s bring it back up to Friday June 20th. We get the bottles and caps and bottling equipment all sanitized, we’re ready to go. Seth pours the first glass and hands it to me. I hold it up and admire its beautiful amber color. I bring it to my nose to take in that intoxicating mixture of Columbus and Simcoe hops, but it’s not there…
It smelled sweet.
I take a drink expecting the bitterness of the Warrior hops to blast through my mouth, but it doesn’t…
It tastes sweet.
Mind you, some of the hop bitterness came through in the finish, but what happened to our beer?
Remember this? Ruined!
We continued to pour glass after glass trying to come up with a possible explanation. Inconsistent fermentation temperatures can make off flavors, but our fermentation temperature never changes. Could it be that bacteria found its way into our beer? Bacteria generally makes beer sour, not sweet. Did we sanitize everything? Yes we always sanitize everything. Did we sanitize everything correctly? YES WE ALWAYS DO! What the hell happened?
It took half the night to come up with an idea that wasn’t a routine cleaning or sanitizing task. Our AH HA! moment, if you will. Brian asked if the keg had been thoroughly cleaned prior to transferring the EPA.
Cornelius Kegs or corny kegs are old soda kegs that would hold the flavored syrup. Homebrew shops sell these kegs to homebrewers and they serve our purposes just fine. They come pressurized, but do they come cleaned?
NO THEY DO NOT!
Son of a…mother…expletive after expletive! Cleaning is my thing. It’s what I do for Regular Guy Brewing and I’m proud of it. Seth is the Brewmaster extraordinaire and handyman, Brian is the smooth talking sell anything to everyone guy and doer of all things, and I clean and organize and do spreadsheets. How did I miss this?
I could claim all kinds of things and make up all sorts of excuses, but I won’t. I dropped the cleaning ball, I am responsible for the bad brew. Now, don’t think we’re disgusting and never clean our stuff. I did sanitize the keg, I just didn’t give it the good scrubbing it needed to get the residual soda syrup out. The syrup is what we are guessing made our poor EPA taste sweet. Such a waste.
We’ll test our theory after I give the keg a good scrubbing…TWICE!
Until next time.