Christopher S. Wood, PhD
Homebrew Clue: A Detective Game
Does anyone remember the classic board game Clue? It was first released in 1949 and was made into a full-length feature film in 1985. It is a detective game where the winner must determine three details of a murder: 1) The guilty suspect, 2) The weapon and 3) The room where the murder took place — for example … it was Professor Plum in the study with the candlestick!
In this post I would like to propose a homebrewing detective game where I describe the details of a recent brew of mine that went wrong and ask you to determine the problem. The first person who diagnoses the problem correctly and posts their answer on the Brew Your Own Facebook page will win this awesome BYO trucker hat.
This Friday I will post the answer to my homebrew problem as well as reveal the lucky BYO reader who won. Let the homebrew detective work begin…
In almost a decade and a half of homebrewing I have always been proud of the fact that I have never had to dump a batch of beer. Well as fate might have it my time boasting about this feat just ran out. About a month ago I set my sights on making a 10-gallon (38-L) batch of highly hopped IPA, a staple in my homebrewing repertoire. My troubles should have been apparent when at the end of my brew session I gleefully proclaimed (alone in my garage) “That was the most perfect brew day I have ever had.” As usual, I made a room temperature yeast starter one day ahead of time of White Labs WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) with a volume equivalent to pitch 750,000 cells/ml/degree plato. I fermented at 68 °F (20 °C) for two weeks with blow off tubing to aide in the proper fermentation conditions. The recipe I used was:
Estimated FG: 1.012 (see below)
22 lbs. 2-row malt
2 lbs. crystal 40 °L
2 oz. Chinook @90 min
1.5 oz. Amarillo @30 min
2 oz. Amarillo @1 min
1.5 oz. Citra @1 min
White Labs WLP090
Mash in 154 °F with 8 gallons for 60 min.
Dry hop with 2 oz. of Amarillo for 5 days (sadly the beer never made it his far)
Two weeks after pitching my yeast I tested the gravity and tried a sample of my highly hopped IPA. My first indication of a problem was that my gravity was 1.028, much higher than I had predicted. At this point I still hoped it could be drinkable. Sadly, after one taste I knew I was wrong. Rather than smelling and tasting flavors of citrus and grapefruit from my Amarillo and Citra hops my senses were blown back by an overwhelming smell and taste of old rubber band and burnt rubber. These off-flavors were so strong it was completely undrinkable! When the day finally came to dump the 10 gallons of my rubber band IPA (see picture above) I followed the instructions of the great Charlie Papazain “Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.”
So there you have it, homebrew detectives. Are you savvy enough to solve the mystery of the rubber band IPA? Could it be the mash temp in the igloo cooler with the decreased temperature or maybe a box of 20-year-old rubber bands found their way into my fermenter? Don’t forget to post your answer on the Brew Your Own Facebook page ASAP to win!
Happy detective work, homebrewers.Last modified on