Part 3.

 

My 20 day ale had been fermenting vigorously for a few days.

Everything calmed down and krausen dropped in 5 days. FIVE DAYS! Even though I figured it was unrealistic to believe fermentation was finished after 5 days, I checked the gravity anyways. I was spot on at 1.015 giving me a 5.4% ABV. Well, I was well on my way to meeting my goal. The Quest was in good shape! To accelerate the process, I cold crashed for 48 hours. When I pulled the carboy from the freezer 2 days later, the yeast had all dropped and compacted to the bottom, the beer had cleared up nicely, and I was ready to go to keg.

I cleaned and sanitized everything and siphoned into the keg. I hooked up the CO2 at the desired serving pressure of 13 PSI. But, instead of just setting it and forgetting about it for 2-3 weeks as CO2 was absorbed into the solution, I did a hybrid of the different methods out there to force carbonate beer. I picked up the keg and gently shook it for about 4 minutes. That’s how long it took for the sound of CO2 running through the regulator to stop. I’d infused as much CO2 as I could by increasing the surface contact with the liquid inside. I placed the keg in the kegerator and waited…

April 14, 2014. 14 days since brew day, 7 days since keg day, and 6 days until Easter. Dare I pour a pint? Do I wait patiently until April 19? But what if there’s something wrong and it’s too late to fix it? What if the keg is over carbonated? That’s it – I have to sample this today. I poured out about 2 glasses of foam and initial crud (the first glass never seems to be good), then I poured a pint. I should have prepped my good camera and taken real photos – because the results were glorious! Here are a couple of crappy cell-phone photos of the 1st pour of my 20 Day APA:

Nice thick head with good retention, relatively clear, and a great color. Very nice! But – how did it taste? Well, it wasn’t as hop-forward as a typical American Pale Ale. It had a slightly malty flavor, with subtle hop undertones and aroma. It wasn’t necessarily to “style”, but I gotta say – it was delicious! 14 days from grain to glass. But, I wanted to wait to judge it on Easter morning. I wanted to test it at 20 days. So I finished the glass, put the cap back on the faucet, and walked away.

Easter morning, I was cleaning, prepping, cooking, etc… One of the last things I did before guests arrived was wheel my kegerator out to the back patio and label the taps. Next to my Sinful Coffee Porter was my 20 Day APA. I tried a taste and it was even better. I was rather impressed with myself – my Quest seemed to be complete! There was one more obstacle – the public taste test. What would my guests think? Would they enjoy it? They didn’t know I had just brewed it 20 days ago and accelerated the usual process. They didn’t know about the San Diego Super Yeast, the fining agents, the simple recipe, or the keg shaking. So now I waited…

 

As I helped my wife dish out breakfast, I watched people’s reactions as they poured a pint. Through the kitchen window, I saw the head-nods that denote “job well done”. I saw people going back for seconds. I saw success. My Quest was complete. Like the knight that returns to the castle with a dragon skull on his horse, and a legendary chalice forged by mermaids in his hand, I walked outside, poured a pint, and triumphantly toasted my family and friends with my glass high in the air. As everyone raised their glass and thanked my wife for hosting Easter Breakfast, I smiled modestly – not regaling the crowd with the arduous tale of the Quest to bring them good beer, but instead sitting down and enjoying it with them. It was a good day…

20-5

Bonus pic – one month later I enjoyed the last of my 20 Day APA as brewed what I hoped would be another epic brew (more about that later)…

20DAY-4

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