homebrew: Altbier

I kegged my Altbier this morning and I’m still attempting to figure out force carbonation. The “shaking it around on the floor until the damn thing stops making noise” method is not, in my very amateur opinion, the best way to go about it. One brewing website speaks of a certain “patient method” which involves hooking the CO2 up to the “out” nozzle on the keg, setting your pressure regulator according to a chart that converts pressure to “volumes” (a term that I imagine implies the number of times a unit of space is filled with the quantity of gas that said unit would encompass under normal circumstances) turning the gas on and throwing (or carefully placing) the whole getup in the fridge for 48 hours. I guess we’ll see on Saturday.

The impatient method was, of course, initially appealing to me because I’m impatient, especially when it comes to beer, or wine, or booze. But it’s shortcomings soon became apparent. First I tried it with the pressure at about 15 psi and let it sit overnight. But it was a little to flat so I tried it again, this time at 30 psi. It was still a little flat after another 12 hours or so, but only because of the fact that it shot out of the nozzle with such outrageous ferocity that it was difficult to hold the glass at the proper angle for a good pour. It was kinetically equivalent to the little girl in the excorcist projectile vomiting.

More importantly, the fizz just wasn’t right. Like the way a good pint has equal carbonation from the top to the bottom and the bubbles are fine and start from the bottom of the glass and trace a bead all the up.

But enough about that beer, it’s gone anyway, to the consternation of my friend Rob who was, rightfully, a part owner. The Alt will be delicious. It’s just the little Charlie Papazian extract recipe and it’s real simple with only one 60 minute hop addition. It turned out dry on the palate (even with a TG of 1018) and with just enough dark toasted malt to keep it interesting but without its tasting like a medieval breakfast.

Don’t worry, have a homebrew.

Update 3/30/09:

Tried the beer on 3/28/09 at my party. Still too flat so I cranked the pressure up to close to 12 PSI, today it’s damn near perfect. Rick, I hear you about priming, I just like the way mechanically carbonated beer tastes. The carbonation seems to dilute the beer a little and priming never gets enough foam in it for my liking, I’ve got that American palate.

2 Thoughts.

  1. I prefer the ballistic carbonation method…you need a high pressure tank, say 3500-5000 PSI. It takes only a second, but you’ll have beer that will lift you out of your socks.

  2. I have a table of pressurizations for various beers at various temperatures I can share with you. I’m thinking an alt would be comparable to an English ale for carbonation. So you should force carb it at around 11.3 psi (50 deg) and 15.9 psi (60 deg) basement temperature. There are readings outside of that range, if you need that.

    Personally I’m more a fan of priming for carbonation. I feel like the head lasts longer and the bubbles are more subtle. I know…it takes longer.

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