Over excited beer (another how not to...)

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Zech
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Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281614 Zech
Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:14 pm

Anyone know how to depressurize Grolsch bottles?

Let me back track a little...

On tasting my mugwort ale about a week ago, I found it far too bitter. I knew this when I tasted the wort, so I really should have done something about it then, but I didn't, and I bottled it, so I had about twenty bottles of too-bitter ale, and I'd been planning to take some to a party tomorrow (it's a home-brew beer festival birthday party, and I was invited about a month ago, with an empty beer store). To deal with the excessive flavour, I started another two gallons of plain beer - just malt extract. Once that got going I added bottles of mugwort ale and tasted until it was about right (2 parts plain to 1 part mugwort - it needed a lot of diluting!)

Instead of letting the primary fermentation finish then bottling with sugar, as I should have done, I bottled part way through the primary fermentation, so as to have some ready to drink tomorrow. You can see where this is going, can't you? Opening a bottle to test this evening, I sprayed the kitchen with mugwort ale.

Does anyone have any clever tricks for making these bottles safe to open?

It does taste pretty good now.
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281618 ina
Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:46 pm

Make sure you open the bottles in the garden, with nobody else nearby? :mrgreen:


Sorry, I know that's not what you wanted to hear... But I really don't know - no experience with homebrewed beer at all, overexcited or otherwise. :dontknow:
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281622 MKG
Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:28 pm

They always look to me as though you should be able to relax the spring clamp a little so that the stopper lifts just enough to give you a slow hiss and gradual depressurisation. However, I've just looked all over the net and it seems that appearances can be deceptive - I can't find a single mention of releasing over-pressure from swing-top bottles.

:dontknow:
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281633 Zech
Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:14 am

ina wrote:Make sure you open the bottles in the garden, with nobody else nearby? :mrgreen:


I did consider that option, but such a waste of beer :pale:

MKG wrote:They always look to me as though you should be able to relax the spring clamp a little so that the stopper lifts just enough to give you a slow hiss and gradual depressurisation. However, I've just looked all over the net and it seems that appearances can be deceptive - I can't find a single mention of releasing over-pressure from swing-top bottles.

:dontknow:


After some trial and error, I can report that the spring clamps are indeed all-or-nothing, either firmly clamping the stopper in place... or not. However, there is another way to apply pressure to the stopper - the heel of my hand does the job nicely. I can lean on the stopper, release the spring clamp, then gently lift my hand a little until beer starts escaping, at which point I swiftly reapply the clamp. After about ten minutes, the froth subsides and I can do it again. It's a slow process, but it is keeping most of the beer in the bottles.

I'm glad I hadn't used crown cap bottles!
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281655 Brewtrog
Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:59 pm

Easiest way would be to open them into a fermenting bin, let them ferment and rebottle after.
Out of interest what was your recipe?

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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281685 Zech
Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:57 pm

Excellent idea - one of those that's so good it looks obvious when you say it. I shall do that with the remaining overexcited ale. Mind you, it wouldn't have helped much on Friday, as there wasn't time to do that before the party on Saturday.

It's the recipe I posted on your wormwood ale thread a while back: http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=28912#p280879
For two (UK) gallons:
2 x 370ml jars malt extract (the kind that's sold in health food shops)
350g sugar, about half and half white and muscovado
flowering tips of mugwort - not sure what weight, but about 1 pint volume when covered with water and pressed down a little.
4 each of dandelion leaves and rosemary sprigs, because I couldn't stop myself meddling.
1 sachet bread yeast (it's so much cheaper than brewing yeast)

1. Put the mugwort in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to steep for... well, I forgot about it, so about two hours.
2. Put malt extract and sugars in a bucket with some hot water.
3. Strain liquid from mugwort onto sugars.
4. Dump mugwort, dandelion and rosemary leaves into a saucepan. Cover with boiling water and boil. After 20 min I tasted some and it was extremely bitter, so I stopped it there.
5. Strain liquid into bucket.
6. Top up to about 2 gallons and sprinkle on yeast.
I plan to leave this until it's calmed down - four days to a week, I expect - then bottle it.


Revisions I would make with hindsight:

1. Use about a third of the quantity of herbs, i.e. about 100ml mugwort and maybe a leaf of dandelion and a small sprig of rosemary per gallon.
2. I might try using the mugwort mainly for aromatics, and shifting the focus to dandelion for bittering, i.e. dump some or all of the mugwort and add more dandelion leaves at stage 4.
3. Possibly increase the proportion of muscovado sugar, maybe 250 g muscovado and 100 g white sugars.

The resulting beer has an earthy, musky sort of flavour and is still seriously bitter, even after diluting. I commented to my cousin that there's a hint of sage in there, and he said, "There's no hint of anything in that - it's a flavour that smacks you round the face." He later referred to it as, "Beer that doesn't taste like beer." On the other hand, he doesn't like my blackberry wine, so his opinion counts for nothing. Two other people have tried it and liked it, including Dave, whose party I made it for, so I count that as a success.
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281686 Brewtrog
Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:07 pm

Having a glance at Andy Hamilton's recipe, he suggests 3oz dry mugwort for 40 pints - with no other herbs.
Sounds an interesting drink, I'll have to try getting some mugwort.

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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281689 Zech
Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:06 pm

I'm not sure the other herbs made any difference in the recipe - the mugwort is pretty overpowering.

I don't know what an ounce of dried mugwort looks like, but I remember being astonished when I weighed hops (foraged and dried) and discovered just how much volume an ounce of those was. I tried looking up quantities from various recipes, and that one was far too bitter as well, even though the amount of hops I used was at the lower end of recipe amounts. I diluted that and ended up with a very nice beer.

I generally prefer weights to volume measures in recipes, but for foraged (or even cultivated) herbs it makes sense, because the volume will be much the same whether it's fresh or dried, or indeed how much it's dried (e.g. "I've had these on the drying rack for days and they seem dry enough, but are they as dry as what I'd buy from a shop?").

I think the 'too bitter' results I get may be due to my unusual method. The standard way is to add malt at the same time as bittering ingredients and boil it all up together. I use plain water to extract flavour from both bittering and aromatic ingredients, on the basis that water that doesn't already have a load of sugar dissolved in it will have more capacity for dissolving other things, specifically the flavour compounds that I want. Two other reasons are: Firstly, I'll only boil the malt if I specifically want a deeper flavour - I don't want that flavour change as a matter of course. Secondly, I don't want to waste gas by boiling all that water if I don't have to. Therefore I boil my herbs in a small quantity of water, but not the malt.
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Re: Over excited beer (another how not to...)

Post: #281725 Crastney
Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:40 pm

cool the beer down first will make it 'less excitable' - ie in the fridge/freezer for a few hours - you'd be surprised at the difference it makes. then re-close those you need for the party, and pour the rest into an FV for further fermentation, and rebottle in a few days time.
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