Friday, March 7, 2008

HONEY... I Blew it!!!

Last week I started a new beer. I wanted to do a Honey Blonde Ale to get ready for springtime, and maybe to enter into the 2008 Sam Adams Longshot contest along with one of my stouts and maybe a California common. Here's the ingredients I used for my recipe....

60 min 4.00 lb Pilsner Liquid Extract (3.5 SRM) Extract
60 min 1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops
30 min 3.00 lb White Sage Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 30.00 %
15 min 0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops
10 min 0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc

2 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale

Here's the problem: Between working on tiling the kitchen backsplash and brewing beer I got distracted and added 6lbs Pilsner extract rather than 4lbs. My OG reading was off the charts at 1.12!!! Between the extra pilsner and the honey I must have really jacked up the fermentables.

Original recipe should have had gravity of 1.055, and then even with the extra 2 lbs it should have been 1.069. But I got 1.12???? The only reason I can think this happened is the White Sage Honey must have been very very low in water content.

At this point after finding out that my OG is way too high, I'm scared. Did I just ruin the beer? I don't think there's any way the yeast will be able to ferment all that sugar, even though this White Labs California Ale Yeast has a high attenuation at up to 80%. I did prepare a yeast starter as usual, but just be safe I got another vial of yeast and added that as well. Hopefully all that yeast will be able to survive the high alcohol that will be produced. This beer no longer fits the category of a honey blonde. It almost fits the style guide for a Belgian Strong Golden. So that's what I'm going to call it.

It has now been in primary fermentation for 11 days. It happily bubbled away for the first weeks with a nice krausen, then has leveled off. Still bubbling through airlock but not as rapid. I checked specific gravity yesterday and it is reading 1.020. I plan to rack to secondary today and let it sit for a month or so before bottling and aging.

The beer so far is very very dry, and not a huge malt character. I'm afraid it is going to be straight rubbing alcohol by the time it is done. My thought is maybe I'll dry-hop in secondary with some cascade and hopefully that will smooth out the alcohol profile a bit. Unfortunately I'll probably have to age for months like a Belgian ale, and now it won't be ready in time for the Sam Adams contest.

Anyone who reads this and has any suggestions on how I can salvage this batch, I'd appreciate any comments.

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