Last night I tried sampled the Lagunitas IPA and Unpredictable JPA to see how much affect the dry hopping had after four days.

While Unpredictable tasted a little weak with its 9g of dry-hopping, Lagunitas was starting to edge towards the intense side with its 14g. Whether this can be attributed directly to the weight of hops used, I don’t know – Lagunitas is stronger but has less IBUs than Unpredictable (OG 1.079/FG 1.017/IBU 40 vs OG 1.053/FG 1.009/IBU 66). Unpredictable is also a mix of three hops, whereas Lagunitas is a mix of two.

I decided to bottle Lagunitas before the flavour becomes too intense and leave Unpredictable for another day or two. It might have been nice to bottle only half of Lagunitas and leave the rest, but really I’ve got enough bottling on my hands at the moment (as you’ll see below).

I also tried my Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – the beer where I only used a single bittering addition with no flavour and aroma hops. All I can say is that I will never ever believe comments that say bittering additions impart minimal flavouring, if any at all. Whether you call it “flavouring” or “bittering characteristic of the hop”, there’s little doubt that this beer is seriously Cascade.

I bottled 10 Anchor bottles with this “bittering only” version – because actually, it tastes damn good. The rest I’ve added 4.5g of Cascade leaf AA 7.2% and I’ll leave it for 4-5 days. Will be really interesting to compare the “bittering only” and “bittering + dry hop” versions.

I’m now left with two free primaries, plus another which will become free this weekend, and another which will become free next week. Usually that would set me racing to make beer but I’m trying to hold off at the moment until I get my fermentation chamber sorted out – the thermostat failed to arrive last night (delivery company screw up) and I still need to work out how I’m going to materialise this fermentation chamber. I may bite the bullet and make a pilsner this weekend though, since I can ferment that in my fridge.

I’ve also been doing a bit of reading and it’s become clear that as well as fermentation temperature, my attitude of “it’s ok to pitch when the temp is high as long as it doesn’t kill off the yeast” is probably not helping. From How to Brew:

The third factor for a good fermentation is temperature. Yeast are greatly affected by temperature; too cold and they go dormant, too hot (more than 10°F above the nominal range) and they indulge in an orgy of fermentation that often cannot be cleaned up by conditioning. High temperatures encourage the production of fusel alcohols – heavier alcohols that can have harsh solvent-like flavors. Many of these fusels esterify during secondary fermentation, but in large amounts these esters can dominate the beer’s flavor. Excessively banana-tasting beers are one example of high esters due to high temperature fermentation.

High temperatures can also lead to excessive levels of diacetyl. A common mistake that homebrewers make is pitching the yeast when the wort has not been chilled enough, and is still relatively warm. If the wort is, e.g. 90 F, when the yeast is pitched and slowly cools to room temperature during primary fermentation, more diacetyl will be produced in the early stages than the yeast can reabsorb during the secondary stage. Furthermore, primary fermentation is an exothermic process. The internal temperature of the fermentor can be as much as 10F above ambient conditions, just due to yeast activity. This is one good reason to keep the fermentor in the proper temperature range; so that with a normal vigorous fermentation, the beer turns out as intended, even if it was warmer than the surroundings.

Brewing in the summertime is a definite problem if you don’t have a way to keep the fermentor cool. My friend Scott showed me a neat trick though, he would immerse (not completely) his fermentors in a spare bathtup during the summer. The water in the tub was slow to warm during the day even though temperatures would be in the 90’s, and at night the water would be slow to cool, even when the temperature dropped to 45 F. In this way he was able to moderate his fermentation temperature between 60-70 F, and the beer turned out great. I have used this method myself with wash tubs and had great success.

It’s the second paragraph that’s important here – I’ve included the rest for completeness.

I’m sure I read this all when I started homebrewing, but at that time it was way over my head – I was still just getting the general process. Now it’s making more sense to me and I’m going to make sure that my next beers have the yeast pitched at the right temperature even if it means I have to let them do the final cooling in the fridge.