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Old 10-27-2012, 03:14 PM   #1
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Default Too sweet Scotch Ale - ideas?

Hi all,

I brewed a Scotch Ale in late July, OG 1.084, to be ready for Christmas. I fermented with a slurry of Bell's house yeast that I had kept from a prior batch. It had been in the fridge for a couple of months so I was a little worried about how it would perform, but it hadn't ever let me down before. I kegged in late August, FG was 1.026 - higher than I expected but not by a lot. The beer tasted like rocket fuel, but it was very young and I expected it to improve with age. Tasting it today the beer has mellowed like I hoped and has good flavor, but it's sweeter than I'd like. Bitterness was low to begin with - 21 IBUs, so not hitting my target of 1.020 has really had a significant effect.

I'm trying to come up with ways to balance the beer without ruining it. I was thinking of adding spices or other ingredients to convert it to a Christmas Ale or other style. I have on hand: cinnamon sticks, ginger root, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Would any of these ingredients help to balance out the sweetness? I was also thinking about carbing higher than usual and serving it cold, which I think will help mask the sweetness.

What do you all think?

Thanks,

Dave

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Old 10-27-2012, 08:06 PM   #2
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You could make a hop tea with highAA hops and add it to bitter some more and balance out the sweet

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Old 10-28-2012, 02:59 PM   #3
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Scotch ales are supposed to be malty and sweet.

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Old 10-28-2012, 03:04 PM   #4
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i would say that is well under-bittered for a 1.084 beer, even if it is a scotch ale. That is only 0.25 IBU:GU ratio. I would shoot for ~0.35-0.5 range. so, 35 IBU-ish at a minimum.

the hop tea dubo suggested is valid, i have done that in the past with success.

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Old 10-29-2012, 12:38 AM   #5
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Oak

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Old 10-29-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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I had the exact same thing happen, and decided to freeze concentrate it. After concentration, more of the roastiness came out, and the flavor was more balanced because of the higher alcohol. Really enjoyed it this way. If you can force carbonate, you can get your bubbles back, but mine was already bottled, so I just drank it as a still Scotch Barley Wine.

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Old 10-30-2012, 09:57 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I'm going to go the hop tea route to balance things out, but first I'll draw off a couple of 2L bottles to try the freeze concentration approach as well.

Prost!

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Old 10-31-2012, 02:41 AM   #8
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Sweet (pun intended). Let us know how it turns out!

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Old 11-05-2012, 12:19 AM   #9
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Success!
Here was my process:
  1. Bring 2 qts of water to boil on stove top, added campden to drive off chlorine and a few drops of phosphoric acid to drop water pH (I've read that hop teas made with high pH water can result in vegetal flavor/aroma.)
  2. Boil 1 oz Columbus pellets (14% AA) in 2 quarts of water for 1 hour.
  3. Add some leftover crumbs of whirlfloc at 5 minutes to help clear things up.
  4. Cool to 130F or so, add a little gelatin, slowly ramped the temp back up to 165 to pasteurize.
  5. Cool to room temp, decant to a sanitized bottle and cool in the fridge overnight.

The next day the tea was clear with fluffy sludge on the bottom. I poured off the clear portion into the keg, rolled it around for a couple of minutes, then drew a sample. Perfect! The beer's original caramel sweetness is balanced by hop bitterness, with no weird off flavors.

Thanks to all for your help with this. Next time you're in the neighborhood the first round's on me!
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:45 AM   #10
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the nibs should bitter by adding dark chocolate flavor. You could also add cold pressed coffee, which would help as well. I would do both.

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