Monday, 21 February 2011

Bete Noire

The Black Beast
The name of one of our long standing beers
A term used to describe something partcularly dark, sinister and nasty
Oh how all of this is true

I brewed a batch of Bete Noire last week, which will be rolling out the door at the end of this week. To say it's been a pain in the rump to brew would be an understatement.

This particular brew is very dark with black malt and roasted barley which makes it a lovely darkly malted, rich stout with a real caramel kick. At 5.5% it's one of our well known beers. A beer as dark as this isn't particularly hopped for aroma, mainly bitterness. These few pesky hops however, did cause rather an issue.

All was going well, I was brewing smoothly until about lunch time when I was ready to transfer the wort (the hot, unfermented beer) from the copper to the fermenting vessel - the last stage of the day.

I started the transfer and could hear the pump struggling after only a few minutes.
Turned it off
Turned it on
No joy
Turned it off
Turned it on
We're off!
Oh. No we're not

I cleaned the very very bunged-up hop filter, which is on the pipe line, and shoved it back in
Phew! All is well

So after that fiasco it was OK. For about 5 minutes. During these five minutes I thought to my little self 'so this is going to happen all the time, or worse, the hop filter at the bottom of the copper will get covered in hoppy schmush and I'll not be able to get any of the wort out'.

Oh how the pump struggles. The hop filter at the bottom of the copper is covered in hoppy schmush and I cant get any of the wort out.


What's the solution? Forcing the wort back up the line into the copper and blowing Oxygen through the filter to un-bung it. Oxygen is extremely flamable and would therefore not mix particularly well with anyone having a cigarette nearby (or perhaps would mix a little too well....boooooom).

I had to do the oxygen blasting business a couple of times, but after taking about three times the normal time to transfer, the wort was in the fermenter - woop woop!

Chapter two...

It's a week later and the beer didn't ferment fast enough. It was meant to ferment the sugar to give a 5.5% beer, which usually takes about 4 days. After 6 days it pretty much came to a halt so we have now given up. (It will be fine after conditioning though.....we hope). Unfortunately this has shoved our brewing schedule out by a day so we're now a bit behind.

So, Bete Noire. Appropriately named, me thinks.

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