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Thursday, October 13, 2016

FAIL: No Ragrets First Wit Is Just Meh

Beer that makes you go "Meh." It's bound to happen to every brewer. We brewed a Belgian Wit and it's all kinds of jacked up. Light As The Breeze is drinkable but isn't very tasty and didn't hit the flavor marks we were looking for. Failure is acceptable as a homebrewer; it is an opportunity to learn.

What is wrong with this wit?
  1. The body of this beer is very thin. I don't like thin beer.
  2. There is hardly any head retention but it is perfectly carbonated.
  3. I wanted more orange flavor. It's barely there even though I boosted the orange peel in the recipe.
  4. (THE KILLER) This beer is very soapy and that doesn't seem to be fading away with age.
I believe that points 1 and 2 are directly related to troubles we had during the sparge. At the No Ragrets Brewatorium, we don't do brew-in-a-bag but we do use a brew bag in place of a false bottom. Since we use the bag we elected to leave out the rice hulls. That was a mistake. The mash was a sticky mess so the sparge was difficult. I'm not too concerned with the body or head retention of this batch. I believe that the issues are sparge related and the addition of rice hulls would have remedied these problems. Lesson learned ✔

I think that points 3 and 4 are also related but the issues are multi-part. Once I get past the soapy flavor I can detect the orange I was hoping for. I believe that the soapy characteristic is hiding the nice orange notes. But what caused the soapy flavor? At first, I though I left the beer on the yeast cake too long but 6 weeks really isn't that long. I narrowed the flavor down to either the yeast or the coriander. It's both. We used Safbrew T-58 Dry BelgianYeast and didn't do a very good job controlling the temperature of the fermentation. This beer fermented on the warmer side of this yeast's range. The bigger contributor to the soap flavor, in my opinion, is the coriander. I used the correct amount of coriander specified by the recipe but I did not prepare it correctly. Coriander is meant to be cracked open. I ran my coriander through a coffee bean grinder. Pulverizing the seeds made them more effective than they would have been if they were simply cracked open as the recipe instructed. They overdose of coriander and the clove(ish) flavor from the yeast combined to leave behind a soapy flavor. Lesson learned ✔

What is good about this beer? After about 1 1/2 of them the soapy flavor goes away for the most part. It's also incredibly refreshing. It is surprisingly crystal clear; the photo above doesn't do the clarity justice. That being said, I could care less about the clarity of beer. At 5.2% this is a great beer to drink while watch my Tennessee Vols on gameday without getting too out of sorts and throwing a TV or kicking the dog. I will brew this beer again, with tweaks. I doubt that I use this yeast ever again and I will properly prepare the coriander. All-in-all, I don't hate this beer but I'm certainly not handing is out to people with pride. I'm not sharing the recipe until I dialed this beer in. It is based off of a kit. I like to base beers off of kits. It's a good way to safe some money since kits typically cost less than their individual ingredients.