Advice please, I was possibly drinking and made an experimental batch...

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Cat Noodle

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Hi all, newbie here. Been lurking for a while.
All previous brewing has followed recipes to the letter. I created "its ok" beer. I like hoppy and dark beer. I like beer.

I planted hops a few years ago, missed the harvest window last year, (inexperience). Found this group while trying to be sure I did not miss the window this year. (bumper crop) :)
Suddenly I had hops on the drying screen plus some. I only had a 1 gallon jar unused / open, no malt grain on hand, so did EVERYTHING wrong, but hey, I had hops. Nearest brew supply house is 40 miles away. The hops were ready, at least you guys said so, so it was go time. I decided to go rouge and experiment.
(FYI- hops take a LOT longer to pick than you think it should!)

The batch is in a secondary so no carbonation really...but I taste tested and it is the most awesome batch for me so far taste wise EVER. And I almost dumped it because of the floater stuff I flipped over seeing.. but after reading a bit.... I sampled. Bless you fellow posters for giving me the confidence to do so.

Soooooo.....Should I just drink it as is (basically flat, but I don't mind) or risk bottling and having it go south as it conditions? I only have a gallon jar of it. What if it gets better....

It is a frankenbatch.
It consists of regular grocery store "pearled barley" not malted (I don't think) that I put half in a pan over pretty high heat and toasted (maybe burnt some) before putting in the coffee grinder. To lazy/ busy for the rolling pin and don't have a mill.
There was a bit of coffee residue in the coffee grinder.. maybe more than just a bit.
The rest of the barley I did not toast, just put in the grinder. Corse grind. I also used some cheap store brand instant brown rice, whatever amount was left in the box and a good handful plus or so of oatmeal. Irish steel cut something or another. Tossed the box so now don't remember.

I got it to temp but then soaked it for toooooooo long - overnight, it cooled. One of those oh chit I forgot moments the next morning.

During boil I added fresh hops early. Some more mid point. Some more at the very end. I like hops. I had a lot this year. They just boiled apart and were a mess to get strained out.

Had a hell of a time sparging / straining the "grain", gooey gelatinous mess. The barn cats ate the spent stuff though, so must not have been that bad.

Oh, it gets better. I was also out of real brewing yeast, so used regular old baking yeast. Like, for bread. (I warned you I did everything wrong!) I added some brown sugar and maple syrup when I added the "wrong" kind of yeast. Might have given it whatever was left of the honey also, which was not much.

Siphoned it to a secondary gallon jar about a week / week and a half ago. It's cloudy, still making little bubbles that I thought were possibly mold.. but after looking at photos and advice here, I got gutsy and tasted.

Other than not really having any carbonation yet- this stuff is the most awesome brew I have ever done! I am kicking myself because I will most likely not be able to re create it on a larger scale. I used what I had. I didn't measure. Handfuls or whatever was left in the box. The wrong stuff. A lot of hops, tossed in when it felt right to do so.

Soooo, you brew Gods of infinite wisdom... do I just drink it (basically flat, but pretty darn good) or do I risk trying to bottle condition?

I have had things taste MUCH different pre vs post condition. Sometimes better, sometimes worse.
What would you do... maybe what I am really asking is ----WHY did this mess work?
I did EVERYTHING wrong!
 

VikeMan

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Basically, your only fermentables were the brown sugar, maple syrup, and honey (if you added that). You had no enzymes to convert the starches in your grains to fermentable sugars, and the amount of naturally occurring sugars in those grains is very low.

So, basically you made a hoppy prison hooch. If you like it, congrats. I'd recommend not wasting much time before drinking it. It's loaded with unconverted starches, which are not a good thing for shelf life.
 
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hotbeer

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Since experimenting seem to be your modus operandi why don't you take a portion of your batch and bottle it. Use a hydrometer to get the current SG and use a priming sugar calculator to figure out how much sugar to use.

Just because it might taste good now doesn't mean it won't taste better after being properly carbonated and conditioned. Sometimes that conditioning might take many months. So save some to see.
 

bwible

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To really understand what you got, you were supposed to take a gravity reading with a hydrometer before you added the yeast.

SG =Gravity

Then you take another gravity reading after fermentation is finished.

FG = Final Gravity

The difference between these 2 readings tells you how much alcohol is in it.

As Vikeman said, grocery store barley, rice, and oatmeal are not malted grains. They have no enzymes to convert starch to sugar. So all they add is starch. Yeast cannot ferment starch. Your sugar, honey, and maple syrup have sugar the yeast can ferment.

You didn’t take any measurements of anything. Ounces of barley, rice, oatmeal. Amount of sugar, maple syrup, honey. Amount of hops. So there’s no way to guess at gravity, % alcohol or bitterness values.

Enjoy it if it tastes good. Again, as vikeman said, drink it quick. Yeast can’t eat starch but spoliage bacteria love it
 

VikeMan

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To really understand what you got, you were supposed to take a gravity reading with a hydrometer before you added the yeast.

SG =Gravity

Then you take another gravity reading after fermentation is finished.

FG = Final Gravity

Just a small nit to pick... "SG" means Specific Gravity, a generic term that can refer to the gravity at any point before, during, or after fermentation. More specifically, that first, pre-fermentation gravity is the Original Gravity (OG).
 

bwible

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Just a small nit to pick... "SG" means Specific Gravity, a generic term that can refer to the gravity at any point before, during, or after fermentation. More specifically, that first, pre-fermentation gravity is the Original Gravity (OG).
Right but in the case of the first reading its also starting gravity as opposed to final gravity. Its specific gravity in both readings
 
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Cat Noodle

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Thanks for the input guys, most observations I do know.
I just had nothing on hand grain wise, lots of fresh hops, nothing open other than a 1 gallon jar, so figured oh what the hell. It's only a gallon right? Went through the pantry as you can see, used what I had, but knew it was wrong.
I think knowing that is why I reverted to my grandmothers methods. She was an excellent cook but never measured anything. Pinch, handful, some, and "about that much, or a little more or less".

I could have (should have) taken gravity readings and didn't. I think I decided the hell with that when I realized I only had baking / bread yeast on hand on top of everything else I knew was wrong. It has always been drilled in my head that yeast can only go so far/ not far enough as to alcohol conversion. Maybe that is a myth, unfortunately now I still don't know.

What I was confused by, is why it actually tasted pretty good, (really good- how?) and wondering if that was my clue to drink it now as opposed to trying to condition. Hotbeer, I was thinking the same, bottle half. Maybe three bottles. See what happens.

Decided I am taking the advice of Vikeman and bwible and drinking it. It is very hoppy. Very hazy. I will never know if it might have been better. And I know you guys are right- basically its the sweets.. nothing much more. That can't age well.

Well, that, and my daughter dropped in and tasted.. liked it too. She usually prefers wine so maybe I made hop "wine", who knows. And now that gallon is more than half gone, so....

Maybe next year when hops are ready I will have it together enough to have actual grain and correct yeast on hand.
Although I am now thinking I may try just the brown sugar / maple syrup / honey mix with (hopefully) excess hops as a 1 gallon experiment. No pantry wannabe grain. Well, maybe a bit of rice. Preferably with the correct yeast. I just don't want to cross over to "mead" territory.

I think I posted because I was so blown away that this experiment didn't taste or smell like a wet dog I just had to tell somebody that might understand.

Sugary prison hooch might be ok if they had hops to ad. :)
 

bracconiere

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Tossed the box so now don't remember.


listening to this awesome story i first read that as toasted the box! ;)
do I just drink it (basically flat, but pretty darn good) or do I risk trying to bottle condition?


honestly i'd be curious what it'd taste like after a scoby kombucha ferment....why not at this point? i mean that seriously, could be a good work drink!

and in my head, beside the maple syrup, and to a lesser extent brown sugar...you made a good sampler of hop tea to get a feel mfor your home grown hops... :mug: you can taste what it'd be like in an oat meal stout, an american lager, and pale ale in a one gallon sitting...
 
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Cat Noodle

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My hops are phenomenal. I am so happy. I have 10 gallon size dried bags in the freezer. I got the plants from a fellow on ebay that was only an occasional seller and said he was a homebrewer. They looked awesome when I got them, took off wonderfully, then my other half decided to "help" at the end of the garden season.
Tilled up the whole row at the end of the first year. He did a good job.
I was so bummed I actually found the seller I had gotten them from and begged him to list more in spring (and why).
He told me that I should root around in the area next spring before wanting to order more. OK. I did. He was right. Each plant was now about 6 plants. Last year I would have had a great harvest but did not want to pick to soon and all the sudden they went from green to brown, past, done, missed the window.
This year...YES!
I do think my "hop tea" has some alcohol content, Not sure how much, but some. I can tell.
 

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Welcome to HBT @Cat Noodle. I think what you made was closer to an acerglyn mead flavored with hops and a variety of unmalted grain. But who’s keeping track here?

So the big question, are you going to brew it again?
 
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Cat Noodle

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Welcome to HBT @Cat Noodle. I think what you made was closer to an acerglyn mead flavored with hops and a variety of unmalted grain. But who’s keeping track here?

So the big question, are you going to brew it again?
If my hops are as plentiful next year I am sure I will try some off the wall experiment, maybe try to recreate the first attempt in addition to something a bit more planned. I think I will try to add a few more gallon jars to my collection just in case it does not work out quite the same. I can dump a gallon, no biggie. 5 gallons...well that stings.
Instead of just emptying boxes though, I learned my lesson, empty them in a measuring cup first and jot it down.
 

Kickass

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Being able to replicate results is one of the most important aspects of homebrewing, for me.

It may, or may not, matter to you but are you tracking the difference between malted and unmalted grain? One allows for extraction in sugars, one doesn’t. This difference is critical in determining whether you end up with beer (alcohol) or starchy soup (no alcohol).
 
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Cat Noodle

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Next hop harvest experiment time I may try a gallon batch that does not bother with scrounging for something resembling grain, (it was a gooey mess) and try just the maple syrup / honey / brown sugar heavily hopped and see what I get. I'm not sure the pantry additions added a darn thing. Maybe they did, maybe contributed to flavor?
I did not take any gravity measurements, but this did have some alcohol content, we could tell. ;)

For next year in my head I have a plan to try to replicate this years experiment in a gallon jar, since it is now gone and I have a craving for another glass. Another gallon jar with no wanna be grain, just the sweets, and an attempt at a third gallon that uses malted grain.
Not sure how else I will know what is contributing what.
 
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