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Biere D’Enfer

A long time ago, I was in a hurry to use up one of my beer kits, eager to go to all-grain. So I made a pilsner, pitched the yeast, and nothing happened.  The record of my panic is here, but I’ll save this post for talking about what happened next.

Which was, I was kind of disappointed by the beer when I tasted it a few times–it felt more than creamy, and I wondered if there was something diacetylic about the odd mouthfeel–so I left it over the summer. Didn’t think about it, didn’t look at it. I had this plan to pick up kegs and keg it, see. Figured it’d be a good way to lager it, let it get really mellow.

When you let beer sit, one thing you need to do is check the airlock about once a month. Once a month is enough. Once in three months is not.

But it’s interesting, because while there’e a pellicle of some kind on the beer, it doesn’t smell bad. Quite the contrary, it smells gorgeous. Which, you know, makes me wonder. I think I’ll take some old tubing and pull some of the beer from the carboy and see how it tastes. And if it’s nice, hell, maybe it’s some long-surviving brettanomyces from the peach orchards that used to cover the area? So if it doesn’t taste nasty, I’ll bottle it. (With less priming sugar than usual, for starters, just to make sure I avoid bottle bombs.)

But that pellicle–if that’s what it is–sure is ugly!

The thing is, I did a split batch for this particular brew — something I plan on doing more of — and the split went into a 1-gallon carboy — really just a big wine bottle. I threw in a couple of hot peppers, and left the beer to sit all summer… but I simply put the regular cap onto the bottle and closed it.

The result is what I’m going to call Infernal Ale, because after so many months with hot peppers floating in it, the beer is quite very extremely spicy. Not exactly undrinkable, but not something anyone sane would consider for a session beer either. It’s very slightly carbonated right out of the “carboy” but I think it’ll need a little more priming sugar when I transfer it to the bottles. And it has the singular quality of being the clearest brew of any kind that I’ve produced so far.

(It may not be clear now that I’ve bottled it, of course. The beer had sat so very long I decided to add bottling yeast along with priming sugar. It turned into a huge fizzbomb in seconds flat, but I didn’t lose very much and in the end I actually managed to fill up 8×500 ml bottles with this stuff. One bottle, I had to top up with some of the fermented wort from a starter for a Belgian yeast I had going on so there may be funny esters off the priming sugar, who knows? (I can hope… though I doubt the esters will stand out against the hot pepper.)

I also have a “carboy” of JAO that I should bottle soon. I added gelatin to help clear it, and put it in a fridge downstairs, but I haven’t given it a look. I may bottle it tomorrow. No big hurry… mead takes time before it actually tastes good enough to drink… though I am going to bottle it in the next few days, so that it’s had five months in the bottle by February. Again, I don’t know if it’s going to turn out nice. A fellow brewer in Korea had pretty poor results with it, and I myself found that it definitely didn’t clear up the way some people online suggested it would.

Aaaaaaaaaaand… my first attempt with spent-grain bread was a mess. I was sure I’d put too much into the bread machine. Now I know what happens when you do that. Owch. I was tired… it was a long day of brewing today. But hey, there’s always tomorrow, and I have some more spent grains left over for another attempt. Too bad, though: I used the leftver wort that dripped from the grains, and I am guessing that probably contributed to the huge expansion. Must put less sugar into bread when using sweetened wort.

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