As experienced brewers might guess from the title of this post, I had a little crisis with my yeast, in both halves of the batch of wheat beer I brewed up this week. I figured I would try and brew up a wheat beer and serve it very fresh–like, probably stupidly fresh–for the wedding, for those people who aren’t used to sour or rich dark beers. (Most of what I’ll have on hand is one or the other.)
Thing is, I did this batch as a no-chill brew, because it’s really cold out–meaning I can chill without effort, but also that I prefer letting the weather chill the wort to sitting beside an open window while the hose runs cold water out onto my balcony, where I typically do the brewing.
Well, if you use this method, check the temperature outside, and by all means, make sure your wort isn’t left all day while you run around putting out fires. Because if you do leave your wort out for 24 hours or so in -20°C weather overnight and -10°C during the day, it’s very likely what you’ll find when it’s time to rack is frozen wort-slush. (Even when it’s approximately 1.055 or so.) Which, you know, is hard to rack.
Not that hard, though: I managed to rack half of the boil pot into one bucket, in which I’d already added my smack pack of Weihenstephan yeast, because, hey, why not? Why not is temperature shock: the -10°C wort must have hit that yeast because it never did krausen. (I ended up adding a packet of dry Wheat Beer yeast, before realizing it was probably Belgian Wit beer yeast, to get it started.)
Now, what was going to become a Saison is a different story: basically, I carried the pot with the remaining wort into the house, and put it on the stove to melt it a little. Well, a little got the wort up to about 30°C, which, you know, ought not to be totally toxic to a Saison, but apparently it was, because despite racking onto a whole yeast cake, nothing happened. So I put two packets of T-58 into the wort, and it’s krausened and going like hell now.
The recipe was very easy: 60% wheat, 40% barley, and some noble hops–which don’t much matter–at 60 minutes and at 15 minutes.
Lesson: when doing no chill, remember to account for weather conditions. I doubt that either of these beers will be ready for the wedding, but that’s fine: I’ll want something to enjoy afterwards anyway, and there will be a few occasions where beer is called for in any case. I am curious to see how the T-58 and the Wit yeasts differ in their reaction with the wheatier wort: I once made an Abbey Wheat that was just superb, years ago, and I suppose I’m hoping this one will turn out that way too. It’d be a nice last-solo-brew-project for my stay in Korea.
(Soon, my equipment will all be sold off to a couple of brewer friends, save for my mini-keg, a small siphon-and-hose, an adjustable relief valve, and a picnic tap made to work with that mini-keg. I’ll see if I can’t save some samples of my sour cultures, by dropping oak chips into all my sour kegs… but soon, even my brewing fridge and my yeast samples will be gone. And then will begin my break from homebrewing… though I do expect to continue to make mead in wine jugs, no matter where we are.)