Mia Culpa (Bailing that Brooklyn Batch)
Thursday 17 December 2009 Filed in: Dogfish Head | Raison D'Etre | The Gate
Thursday, December 17, 2009
My sincere apologies to one and all who were looking forward to having some of the Raison D'Etre brewed up at The Gate in Brooklyn back in October. This particular batch of beer, which was to be offered up for fun and charity, will never see the light of day (or the inside of a glass).
Cutting to the chase -
I've been brewing for seven years, and this was my first infected batch. Unfortunately, it was also my highest-profile batch, with lots of folks anticipating the results. And, in this case, the result is a bad batch of beer. Sour, but not in the way one would look for if one wanted to make the best of it and pretend it's a Flanders. Just bad. And certainly not what was targeted.
More detail, if you're interested -
One of my more fun yet challenging (which often goes hand in hand) brew days was back in October when Rich Thacher and Andy Calimano generously helped me get my 10-gallon system to The Gate in Brooklyn to brew up a batch of Raison D'Etre while the one and only Sam Caligione gave an inspiring and entertaining talk for a lucky group of New Yorkers. While it was intiallly just to be a demonstration of the brewing process, the idea came about to put five gallons on tap at The Gate and another five gallons on tap for charity at Dave's Bellport Cold Beer & Soda for one of Dave's charities (Dave is very community-minded fellow and all-round great guy). So far, so good. All great fun.
The Raison D'Etre is brewed with raisins added to the boil, and the raisins did a terrific job clogging things up when we were trying to transfer the hot wort through my chiller into the fermenter we brought along. We got a bit through, maybe a gallon or so, but it got so clogged that nothing was flowing at all. Time was not our friend, in that we needed to clear out soon after the demonstration/talk so that The Gate could get back to normal business.
And at this point the proverbial Achilles' Heel of this batch was introduced.
Every piece of my equipment, hose, connectors, chiller, fermenter, etc., were carefully cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized as usual. (In fact, one properly spends more time cleaning and sanitizing than actually brewing.) However, the hot wort stopped flowing from boil kettle into the chiller and out into the fermenter. Desperate to move the wort so that we could move the equipment out, eventually a pitcher from the bar was called into service to bail the wort into the fermenter (15 gallon capacity food-grade plastic, standard homebrew glass "carboys' would have shattered). As I then worried, and you, dear reader, can certainly surmise, that pitcher was less-than completely clean and sanitary. Here was the likely introduction of some wee nasties who spoiled the beer (now in our compost bins).