Thursday, 27 January 2011

Operation Elizabeth (the sad demise of)

It has been almost 3 months now since my newly acquired cask Elizabeth was filled with 8.7% old ale. Since it's filling I have refrained from touching it, but have sampled occasionally from the one gallon of un-oaked old ale I had left to one side (as a sort of a control sample).

Just the other day however, temptation got the better of me and I cracked open the shive and syphoned off a sample. With this I could compare my oaked sample to un-oaked samples from my one gallon demi-john. Here's some overview.

Appearance: Very very dark brown almost black (coloured malts were accidentally overdone remember), some, but not much clarity.

Aroma: Venous, almost cabernet sauvignon-esque. Lots of alcohols (but not too much), yeasty dark chocolate hints and loads of oak. Massively different from the un-oaked sample.

Palate: Starts with venous alcoholic notes then becomes massively salty and dry. Waves of salt over-ride the after taste with the base beer more or less in the background.

I'm not a fan of it, and in the words of Ice Box (from my previous post); "to put this in the politest way possible Rob, that is absolutely f***ing rank!". It's hard to think of any way of rescuing it? Even with blending I can't see a decent product coming from it and sadly it may have to go down the drain. It's never nice to throw beer beer away. Like taking your old dog to the barn. But things must move on.

It seems the problem lies from my process, or more accurately from when I soaked the barrel over the weekend in hot water saturated in salt before filling. I did wash it out with sterile water afterwards but that wasn't enough I thought. So after a few words with Elizabeth's creator Johnathan Manby it became apparent that the only possible cause of the problem was that I didn't wash the barrel out thoroughly enough after the salt water step and obviously underestimated the effect of soaking the wood three whole days. I should have probably used copious amounts of hot water, cold water, more hot water and maybe some steam. This is what I plan to do for my contingency plan: Operation Elizabeth II.


Mark N said...

I can sympathise.I know what it feels like to chuck away a batch. Like you say,we learn and move on... Good luck with the next one.

Rob said...

Cheers Mark. Am already working on the re-make.

bwestcott said...

Hey Rob, thats too bad! But sometimes you just gotta dump a batch. The salt water method seems odd, to me. Sure it will kill more unwanted bacteria, but it does certainly run that risk of salting up the beer, even with rinsing. Perhaps a couple of dosings of boiling water in the cask would do the trick? Or like you said, steam :)

Rob said...

Good thoughts there Brian, good to hear from you.