Going To Hawaii
(That’s me on the left with good ‘ol Chief of the Boat pulling into Hawaii)

Being a former Bubblehead, I thought I’d make this week’s topics about bubbles… beer bubbles…

Cold serving temperatures can increase your beer’s head formation…

Last week I talked about the under-carbonation problem I had on one of my Pumpkin Ales and today I’m going to share how I’m dealing with that brew because it did turn out quite tasty…

First, bottle carbonating is all about getting yeast to eat more sugar so it produces CO2 inside the bottle. The CO2 rises to the top and accumulates in the headspace until there is no more room… at that point it begins to dissolve back into the liquid… that’s the point at which your beer becomes ‘carbonated’….

Lower temperatures allow more CO2 to be dissolved into our beer…

So what I did with my undercarbed pumpkin ale was to store them in a cooler with ice to get the beer near freezing temperatures, but without freezing them… I let them sit there for about 48 hours and when I went to pour my prior non-head forming beer, I got about 1/2″ head….

That may not sound like a lot, but this beer was pouring almost like juice with no head whatsoever because the carbonation is so low… but by lowering the temperature I was able to get more CO2 to dissolve into the beer…

Keep in mind that I allowed CO2 to be produced to begin with… my problem came about because I multi-tasked (bottled, brewed another batch and made a video for you all at the same time) by myself and somehow had most my priming sugar end up on one bottle which made it my #4 bottle bomb… that left less priming sugar for the rest of the bottles and thus low carbed…

So before you store your bottles cold to increase carbonation, make sure you allow CO2 to be produced…

One mistake I see new brewers make more often than not is to bottle their beer and put one or two in the fridge right away… the problem with doing this is that yeast becomes inactive at fridge temperatures… inactive yeast equals no sugar being eaten, which equals no CO2 produced…

Second…. if you do chill your beer to allow more CO2 to dissolve, note that it will have an effect on taste… cold temperatures inhibit your taste buds from detecting flavors while warmer temperatures allow more flavors to stand out… that’s why light commercial beers are better ice cold, while darker flavorful craft brews are served at warmer temperatures (45 – 60 F)…

Last, whenever you brew a good beer that has an aspect you are unsatisfied with, you can blend the beer… this is an advanced technique used to balance beers or come up with variations…

I only like the idea of blending beers when you have two good beers… some brewers will try to blend an infected beer with a good one and that’s not something I recommend…. I wouldn’t ruin a perfectly good beer with a bad one…

In my case I have an undercarbonated Pumpkin ale and a fairly well carbonated one… both taste very similar… so blending the beers gives me a pumpkin ale with a moderate carbonation, not low or high…

This technique can be used to balance beers in other ways…. say you brew a beer that is too bitter…. if that’s the only thing that is wrong, you could save the beer and use it to blend it with a beer that is too sweet… this is easier if the beers are of the same or similar style… if they are extremely different in styles, then you have to watch out for flavors that may clash rather than complement each other, but that’s a topic for another day..

Cheers!


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