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Old 06-02-2012, 12:07 AM   #1
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Default Poor Man's Cask Conditioning Trick

Let me start off by thanking you all for contributing to this website. I've been lurking about as long as I've been brewing (15 months) and I wouldn't have even known where to start if it wasn't for you guys (and gals)!

Now, let's get down to business. In November, I brewed a Vanilla Porter for the holidays. Brew day went smoothly, but in my typical fashion, I didn't plan far enough ahead for the beer to properly condition and carbonate before Thanksgiving. I think it only spent 10-14 days in primary. So, as one could imagine, the beer was pretty green at Thanksgiving. By Christmas, it was mediocre, but still a bit "sharp" tasting. Anyways, after the holidays I emptied the remnants of the keg into a growler (only half-full) and stuck it in the back of my fridge.

Fast-forward about 6 months. Today I was cleaning out the fridge and lo and behold, I stumble upon the forgotten growler. I almost dumped it down the drain, assuming that it would be oxidized to high hell after spending 6 months in a half-empty growler, but then curiosity got the best of me. I twisted the cap and was surprised to hear a hearty "psssssssst." It didn't smell funky and there wasn't any sign of a pellicle, so I filled up a New Holland Brewing Company pint glass. It turns out the brew was still slightly carbonated! Now for the moment of truth. I took a sip and wouldn't you know it, but the it actually tasted better than when I put it in the growler. All of the sharpness had mellowed out into a smooth, velvety mouthfeel and finish. Most interestingly, the vanilla flavor had subsided to the point that it pretty closely resembled the vanillin notes that result from cask conditioning!

So, for a Porter, I've (accidentally) discovered that vanilla + extended aging is a pretty decent approximation to cask conditioning. I assume this trick would work for other dark beers too, but I'm not positive. Does anyone want to weigh in on this?

p.s. Here's the recipe:

5 gal. batch
OG = 1.053
Broke hydrometer immediately before measuring FG
Estimated FG = 1.015
28 IBU

5 lbs Breiss Golden Light DME
1 lb Caramel 120
12 oz Dark Brown Sugar
8 oz Chocolate Malt
4 oz Munich Malt
2 oz Roasted Barley

8.25 AAU Willamette @ 60 minutes
5.4 AAU EKG @ 10 minutes

Wyeast 1028 (London Ale)

1.4 fluid oz Vanilla Extract in secondary (turned out to be a little too much)

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Old 06-03-2012, 02:27 AM   #2
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I find that 28 days is MINIMUM for bottle conditioning.

I have not used a keg, so can't respond as to the nature of your process. But for some reason, I am not attracted to force carbing my brew. It seems so "unnatural".

I'd still "half-carb" and let the keg sit for a month or so, tho. But that's just me.

Only other thing to say is that I have brewed in almost every type of bottle there is to brew.... and the brown bombers are the best. (I just found out the other day that 22 oz bottles are called bombers, so I'm pretty excited to use my new word.) We're almost finished with our third batch, and all 15 gallons will have gone in nothing but 22oz bombers. Only 2 more weeks until I can take a sip of that first batch of amarillo hoppy goodness!!
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:46 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by grndslm View Post
I just found out the other day that 22 oz bottles are called bombers
- Does anyone know where the term "bomber" come from? Only thing I can think of is that they seem a perfect size for Molotov cocktails.
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