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New year brew year

I may have very well brewed my best belgian ever.

Saturday (Jan 6th) was my first beer brewed in 4 weeks. Last was my homegrown ale on December 10th. Amazing that I only brewed 5 gallons in December – but we were gone for 2 weeks on vacation to Atlanta, so I shouldn’t be suprised. I brewed 5 gallons of a belgian-style strong dark ale, which I intend to bottle-condition in corked belgian 750mL bottles. I’m pretty excited about it, and am happy as can be brewing again – I almost forgot how much I enjoy it. I used a whole bottle (16 oz) of Dark Candi Syrup and the Unibroue yeast strain (Wyeast 3864) so it should turn out pretty good, and different than anything else I’ve brewed to date.

I also took a key learning from my last batch of Dubbel and mashed at a higher temperature since I managed to ferment that last batch down to 1.009 (Yikes!!!) Maybe it was the yeast’s fault (WLP530 Abbey Ale)…. Oliver reported similar results, although he managed to ferment down to 1.006…

It is now 4 days after brewing, and primary fermentation has been winding down for a day or so. Let me tell you – if the aromas that are coming from the fermenter are any indication of how the beer tastes – I am going to be a REALLY happy man.

The floor corker I got for christmas just totally rocks out. I can’t wait to use it on this batch of beer… and many others this year. I am more than willing to share if any of you out there are interested in corking one of your batches.

I’ve got a ton of bottles out in my garage again that need the PBW cleaning and label-stripping treatment… Many of them are belgian-style bottles (Many many thanks to John Biggins!!!!) so I can avoid the exhorbitant $20/case of 12 price that you must buy them for. Unfortunately several of them have some sort of wicked screen printing on them (Corsendonk Brown, Unibroue Terrible, and of course all the Delerium bottles) so I am not sure I can use them. I tried using lacquer thinner to get the paint off, and it was completely ineffective… I am suspecting that the paint is probably some oven-cured enamel that was baked on (and may have fused with the glass). I haven’t given up hope on them yet… but I am struggling with what my next step should be. At some point the effort to remove the paint is going to outweigh the cost of buying them new… particularly if I can get them cheap from Victory Brewing Co. in the spring. Anyone out there got new ideas? I’ve already ruled out paint thinner, lacquer thinner, acetone, and “Goof Off!”.

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