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A Tale Of Halloween Brewing
My friends. I implore you. If you are weak of stomach, have a natural nervousness, or jump when things go bump in the night, please, I beg of you. Read no further!
This is not a children's tale. It is not a mere ghost story. This is a very real tale of a witches brew gone horribly, horribly wrong.
I ask that you not think bad of me, and I ask that you help me set things right. I have never before been one to post threads asking if my beer is ruined, or if I should pitch Satan's own yeast in a devilish pact to lower my final gravity. Over all, I have strived to be a good brewer, to follow the good Saint Papazian's advice to Relax. Don't Worry. Have a Homebrew. But I fear that this time, such is not possible. I implore you and all the good members of HBT and all the gods of brewing to help me. And with this said, I begin my tale. It is a tale of terror and fright. Listen and listen closely my friends, for I will not speak of such events ever again.
It was a dark and stormy morning. Having much work to do, I decided to split my brewday in three parts. I would mash in the morning, boil in the evening, and then cool in a bathtub overnight before pitching the yeast. And I must confess, the recipe was quite special to me. I was sure it would be a crowd-pleaser. Not being one for the typical spiced or fruity beer, I generally eschew pumpkin beers. In total, I have had one good one and about 10 bad ones. The odds would be stacked against me. However, this year, I had it in my mind to brew one. But I didn't want to anger the gods of brewing, tempting them to stick my sparge. So I chose to use pumpkin puree, baked in the oven, added to the end of the boil, with a generous helping of pumpkin spice (1.5 Tbsp). The plan was to brew a "Punkelweizen". Pumpkins are rich and starchy, so is the banana-y flavor of WLP-300. Cloves are spicey. So are pumpkin spices. Cloudiness would be irrelevant. I thought this would be the perfect pumpkin beer. But it was perhaps not meant to be.
Before I left for work, I doughed-in, using a nylon mesh bag in the brewkettle, in the manner familiar to many brewers. I even achieved my desired mash temperature of 150 degrees. I mashed for 90 minutes, added some additional sparge water, heated the mixture to 165F and removed the grain bag, hit 180 to cease the angels' mysterious enzymatic action which, in truth I do not completely understand to this day. I then let this sit and cool as I left for work, confident that I would return home to begin the boil at a later time. And this is when events began to conspire against me.
I wound up working late. Due to a couple of minor crises, I did not get home from work until 1am. The temperature was down to 110 degrees. That was no big trouble. I knew of course that a lengthy boil would kill any nasty bacteria. So I happily began boiling away on my stovetop within the tiny confines of my apartment. And my friends, let me tell you, the boil went magnificently. Until. With about 25 minutes left, I realized that I hadn't baked the pumpkin puree at all. I quickly preheated the oven to 425, threw down a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread 20 ounces of lovely orange pumpkin puree, sprinkled with brown sugar upon its surface. This went into the oven for 20 minutes.
As the boil ended, I took the lid completely off... it had been halfway on, allowing DMS to escape while still helping to hold in a little bit of heat. And that is when it happened. I bumped my refrigerator and a metal sign, held by magnets, fell into my wort.
Now mind you, this is one of those cheap made-in-China signs. Galvanized steel, probably, with enamel paint on it, probably filled with lead. It was held on by 4 strong magnets, also probably made in china, with metal doohickies attached to the outer portion, chrome-like plated. And they ALL fell into my wort.
I panicked. My plan of cooling the kettle in the tub dissipated. No way was I going to allow these foul invaders to sit in my wort as it cooled. I grabbed a siphon hose and began to siphon, but the whole hops caused the siphon to stick. I tried blowing out the blockage in reverse, but did little more than nearly blow out my eardrums. I tossed the melting, flexing hunk of plastic tubing aside and in desperation, I grabbed a plastic 2L pitcher and a pair of 3 gallon kettles. I began transferring the wort by hand into these other kettles.
After about 10 minutes, I had the wort transferred. I placed these two beer-saving kettles into my bathtub. I then used a rubber glove to retrieve the magnets and the steel sign from the bottom of the original brew kettle.. but one magnet remains in there. It will not be found without a full draining of the remnants of the kettle. At least it is not in my wort.
So, my friends, having heard my tale of woe and terror, I implore you to tell me. Is my beer ruined? Can I serve it to friends?
In Process: Mango Beer, Homebrewers Pale Ale
Bottled/Kegged:Spicy Light Rye, Rice-adjunct Pale Ale, Mild Bourbon Porter, Roasty Stout, Basic Light Mead, Bourbon County Stout Clone
Up Next: Berlinerweiss, Chocolate Raspberry Ale, and American IPA