The Legend of Frankenmild

It was supposed to be a mild, my favorite homebrew recipe.  I’ve made it several times before and it’s always been spectacular.  But, thanks to Heisenberg, there is always the possibility of disaster lurking in every brew kettle.  It’s like this:  back in May of this year I had a long weekend and some time to make a couple of batches.   They were both all grain and I decided to do them both on the same day.

Witless was started first.  Once I started the boil on it and began mashing the mild.  It was then that I realized I didn’t have the ingredients I thought I had.  I had ordered some 2 row for base malt and I thought I had some leftover chocolate malt here.  But it turned out that I had a little chocolate, about eight ounces, and roasted barley (approximately twelve ounces).  Well, I was already committed so I just tossed everything I had left in the mash.  As the wit cooled I boiled the mild.  I hadn’t bothered to buy any Goldings for the mild as I had in the past.  I just used what was left from the wit, about an ounce of Saaz.  I’m not a big hops fan anyway.  But, the Goldings do a lend the proper character to a mild.  As the mild cooled I pitched and airlocked the wit and put it away.  Then I just waited on the mild to cool off enough and pitched the second half of the Trappist yeast.  I’d used it for the wit and instead of getting an English ale yeast I just used what I had on hand.

This was in May and during the next few weeks of fermenting and racking, the temperature was a little high.  Really, summer is not a good choice of seasons for brewing in Arizona.  Bottling the mild didn’t go very well either.  Sediment kept clogging the filler.  I didn’t even get to bottle the entire volume of beer.  And it was hot that day, too.  I held out hopes that all would turn out well.  The first couple of beers were okay.  But it denigrated from there.

At this point, everything was great.  Cool glass, nice bottle of homebrew, some easy reading waiting.    Alas, the first bottle was quite the gusher and I had to rush to the kitchen sink so I didn’t make a mess on the carpet.  This is the second bottle.  It started out decently …

It’s a pretty, dark brown with a creamy and yellow-ish head that starts thick but dissipates to a thin covering.  The beer is more murky than brilliant.  While there is no hops evident in the aroma there is a smoky, ashy, husky grain smell.  I’m guessing some of that comes from the roasted barley.  There’s also a plastic like smell, it reminded me of old Star Wars figures that had been left in the sun a little too long.  So, plastic and the charcoal husk of roasted barley and chocolate malt.  Nice.  Oh, yeah, it tastes off.  It’s phenolic and too carbonated.  And is that burnt marshmallow that I taste?  Possibly.

Well, it seems that my fermentation temperature was a tad high for this beer.  My sparge wasn’t the best (I really should not do two batches in one day) and I fear that some of the bottles weren’t as clean as they should have been.  Ah, well.

Like the good doctor in Mary Shelly‘s classic novel, I think I had a good idea, threw into the beer what should have been useful bits and then got to watch my monster go off.

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