In other posts we’ve talked about the Scratch Beer series being a way for us to explore and experiment. Sometimes it’s a new ingredient that sets things in motion, other times it might be a new (or historic) technique we want to try. Occasionally we’re just thirsty for a particular style. Last week, we jumped in to new territory for Tröegs with the bottling of Scratch Beer #X (“X” because we don’t know where it will fall in the numbering of Scratch Beers). If you recall previous updates, Scratch #X is the barrel-aged, dry-hopped, Tröegian (not-Belgian) IPA. Now we can add “bottle-conditioned” to that list of descriptors.
The challenge, and I guess maybe the “experimental” nature of this particular Scratch Beer, was in getting the right amount of fresh yeast and priming sugar in to the beer for bottling and getting it evenly distributed in the tank. A lot of breweries doing bottle conditioning are set up with in-line dosing of yeast and priming ensuring that every bottle gets the right amount of each. We’re not. Looking around the brewery, we located a 10 gallon homebrew pot that we could connect to a pump, and a few stray corny kegs. After hot-looping (pasteurizing) all the hoses and pipes to be used, we brought the priming sugar and some water to boil and then pumped it directly into the side of the brite tank. Not exactly state-of-the-art, but it beat climbing a ladder with 5 gallons of boiling sugar solution to dump it in the PRV on top of the tank. The yeast was added to a corny keg and then pushed with CO2 in to the tank through the sample port. All that was left was to stir the tank. For that we used a pump to pull the beer from the bottom of the tank and return it to the side port. 15 minutes seem long enough? I hope so.
Now we wait. It’s only been a week. I’m reminded of my homebrewing days as I fight the urge to open a bottle a day waiting to hear the tell-tale “hiss” of a crown coming off a bottle of fully carbonated beer.
Also in the books for last week, Splinter Gold. At least it will be… eventually. With barrels soaked and sanitized, I inoculated each with some of the barrels that didn’t make the Splinter Beer cut, then drove them around to where Bruce and JeffJ filled them with the Tripel. The good news is it’s a much bigger batch this time around. The bad news? It’s going to take at least a year, maybe more until it’s ready to bottle.