Batch #1: First Taste (a week early)

After a week of bottle conditioning, I decided to throw a bottle of my Alt Things Reconsidered in the fridge for a taste. I have to say, it’s pretty tasty, though it’s a little estery. It’s also a bit cloudier than I would have liked. Now all this could be because of 2 things.

The first is that I should have waited another week. I was told it should be carbonated after a week. Being my first batch, I had to try it early. It’s definitely carbonated, though it could probably use a bit more (another week may help).

The second thing is that I didn’t want to “waste” one of the cleaner bottles if it ended up not being ready. I opened one of the last 3 bottles we filled. It had a huge layer of sediment on the bottom that wasn’t nicely packed and mixed in. That could definitely explain the cloudiness. I’m not sure if it could also explain some of the estery flavors.

Now that I’m about halfway through the glass and the beer has warmed up a bit more, it’s actually tasting a bit more like an Altbier. I’m really enjoying this. It’s not top notch, but it’s certainly drinkable. I’m just glad it’s not infected.

So, my question to the brewers out there… Most Altbiers are generally fermented at cooler temperatures (closer to a lager, but not quite as cool). The White Labs website suggests that the temps for their Altbier Yeast (WLP036) should still be about the same as most ale yeasts (about 68°F). Should I have fermented it at a lower temperature (say closer to 60°F)? Should I have kept the primary fermentation at 68°F and done the secondary lower? Will it benefit from a cooler conditioning for an extended period of time (my beer cellar is currently between 55° and 60°F)? I’m just looking to make a really tasty Altbier. It’s one of my absolute favorite styles. This is a beer I will be brewing again and will want to perfect.

Regardless of whether or not it’s really close to a true Alt or not, it’s tasty. I’m very happy and proud of my accomplishment. I don’t plan on opening anymore until next weekend. I’m bringing a 4 pack to my mother to share with my family and a 4 pack to bring to my step-father-in-law (who is probably more excited about it than me).

One thought on “Batch #1: First Taste (a week early)”

  1. I’ve never made an Alt or used that yeast. I would say that the most important temp is what you START fermentation at (and for a day or so after that). That’s when the yeast will or will not spew out most of their esters and fusels. So, I would suggest starting at the lower end of the range. If you want you could raise it up a bit as time goes on, but if the yeast is doing its thing and if by the end it’s attenuated the way you want, then there’s no particular reason to raise the temp (unless you have a diacetyl problem, then raise to 70 or so for a couple days).

    You can (and should, if you have the ability and time) cold-condition every beer you make. But this is assuming you’re kegging and can force-carbonate.

    If you cold-condition an ale for long periods of time, almost all the yeast will drop out and you won’t be able to prime it to carbonate (unless you add new yeast). But if you keg and force-carbonate, then you don’t care about the yeast dropout.

    My advice to you, especially if you plan on having this Altbier be your house beer (my house beer is a best bitter, made with WLP002)…
    GET TO KNOW that yeast. Experiment with it under different temp conditions, different times, taste it at different stages, etc. Experience is the best teacher, though John Palmer is a close second. 🙂

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