Anything I’m Fermenting

June 30, 2010

Lauku Alus, part 2

Filed under: Beer,Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,


Looks like I’ll be making this beer again – for both good and bad reasons.

The good reasons include how fast it is to make, and that it tastes good. From Saturday to Saturday I had a beer that was ready to drink, and the brew ‘day’ itself was around 3 hours long. The beer tasted good – unfortunately for me, I’ve had a cold all week, so my sense of flavour is very limited. But I found that the beer was very mild and rich tasting, with barely noticeable hop bitterness, flavour or aroma. It was probably the creamiest beer I’ve ever had in terms of mouthfeel. Others who tried it all commented on the flavours (doh, stupid cold!) – some said milky (as a flavour), some chocolaty, some said strawberry-like. Its appearance was very murky. As you probably can see, this is a complex beverage.

Now for the bad part – due my mistakes, the beer had a very metallic after-taste. This is most likely due to a series of events during kegging. I had originally resolved to keep this first brewing simple, just a no-boil beer, otherwise the same as my other homebrews. Then JJ suggested keg-conditioning it, and re-reading the interviews with the old-timers, I decided that this would be much more true to the original beers. Unfortunately, as I explained in Part 1, I did not catch the beer in time to let it condition itself – it had already reached its final gravity. So I boiled some of the extra wort that had cleared out of the trub with some leaf hops for added hop aroma, and added this to the keg to give the beer some sugars for conditioning. In my absent-mindedness, or due to my cold-addled brain, I did not strain the hops out of this wort and dumped them along with the wort, into the beer. Realizing the problem with this afterwards, I decided to stick a copper scrubby at the end of the the out-tube to filter the hops before they could clog up the poppet valves.

For the record, the scrubby did not even work – it came off the out-tube. In addition, I believe the copper scrubby, beer, and stainless steel tank set up a galvanic reaction that dissolved some iron from the stainless steel in the keg. Not much – the taste was not overpowering – but enough to give the beer an unpleasant metallic aftertaste. A friend who tried it, described it like making chicken stock in the wrong pot, which gives it an metallic taste – not worth throwing out, but you know it’s there.

To solve the hop problem, I was forced to open the lid of the keg and pour the beer through a sanitized strainer into a sanitized bucket. I then cleaned out the clogged poppet valve and re-kegged the beer – and force-carbonated it.

I served the beer at the yearly Latvian summer solstice celebration – it was the second keg on tap, and the party was already dispersing, but half the keg was finished. Some people didn’t even notice the metallic taste. I found after a couple sips you stopped noticing it. And several beers later, who cares about it! I did decide to dump the half that remained – it just wasn’t palatable enough to have as a single beer at home in the evening.

So I will try brewing this again – it was easy to do, the beer was interesting and showed promise, and (with hope) the results will be better next time.

Postscript: A cousin who moved to Latvia is visiting, and on my request, she brought a recently published historical overview of traditional beer and brewing culture in Latvia. Just flipping through it, I can see it is an excellent book with a ton of information, and great illustrations and historical photographs.

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