I’m forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air

I wish that’s the tune my Wheat Porter was playing, but since Sunday I’ve not seen a single bubble come out the airlock, or the lid bulge.

I'm not forever blowing bubbles

I'm not forever blowing bubbles

There has clearly been activity there – you can see the krausen (the foamy head of yeast that forms at the peak of fermentation and falls, leaving gunk at the side) has fallen, and there are little CO2 bubbles coming out of the beer.

There is activity - Krausen and CO2

There is activity - Krausen and CO2

Compared to the krausen from American v Britain Superpower IPA (dry-hopped Sunday with 4.1g each of Fuggles and Cascade), the Porter krausen is quite insubstantial.

For comparison, the Krausen on the America v Britain Superpower IPA

For comparison, the Krausen (and dry hops) on the America v Britain Superpower IPA

Why I’ve not seen any airlock activity – that puzzles me. It could be that I missed it because the bucket was hidden in the fermentation chamber, but that’s unlikely because the lid didn’t bulge.

It could be because there’s a leak in the lid.

It could be that because I rehydrated the yeast using 250ml of wort and that the starter was very vibrant, that all activity took place in the first day. Maybe the lid did bulge then and I forgot?

Or maybe, horror of horror, my screw-ups on Sunday mean that there’s lots of unfermentable sugars.

Or maybe I didn’t aerate enough?

Or… dammit. Here was me thinking I’d gotten past the stage of worrying about my homebrew!

There’s only one way to find out whether things are going smoothly or not, and that’s to take a hydrometer sample. Maybe I’ll try that tonight – after 4 days I’d expect the gravity to be around the 1.020 mark.

Last night I live-twittered – with photos – my way through a visit to Popeye in Ryogoku.

If there is one bar in Japan I’ll miss when I leave here, it’s Popeye. Just look at the menu – it’s two pages, changes daily, and lists between 40 and 70 beers ON TAP. Click on the images to see the detail of what they had last night – apologise for the quality but unless I reduced down the colours, the shadow of my hand taking the pics just looked creepy:

Popeye's daily beer menu - side A

Popeye's daily beer menu - side A

And side B:

...and side B

...and side B

The menu is constantly changing – which means there’s always something new to try, but also create a headache (or should that be toothache) for Chuwy at Boozelist. Chuwy – hope you find the  menus above useful for updating the site!

One of the unique features of Popeye is “Hop Heart”, shown at the top left of side B of the menu.

Here they run one of the hand pumped beers through hops while pouring it. In the picture below you can see the two small tanks at the bottom containing the hops:

The heart of Hops Heart

The heart of Hops Heart

Last night’s hops were Amarillo and Cascade. I’ve no idea how often they change the hops – I hope it’s daily; I should probably ask next time I go.

Last night’s Hops Heart beer was Ozenoyukidoke IPA which they had on hand pump and CO2 draft. That means one single beer was available in four different ways in the same bar – hand pump, hand pump through cascade, hand pump through Amarillo, CO2 draft – mind boggling!

Where else can you get 4 versions of the same beer?!

Where else can you get 4 versions of the same beer?!

This was quite an interesting tasting, but very confusing! Ozenoyukidoke has a little bit of “that IPA taste” that I don’t like on hand pump. Through cascade, “that IPA taste” was much stronger – but through amarillo and on CO2, it was far weaker. The natural deduction is that cascade could be in some way responsible for the taste that I don’t like, which would be logical because I usually taste “that IPA taste” in American beers, but is completely illogical because I don’t taste it in Anchor Liberty (which is cascade only) or in the beers I’ve made with cascade!

The bar (taken a few weeks ago)

The bar (taken a few weeks ago)

Last night’s beers, and what I thought of them:

  • Hakusekikan Samurai Rice Ale – Nice light bitterness, not sweet (Hakusekikan make the Brown Ale that I likes so much at Ushi Tora – a brewery for me to keep an eye on, I think)
  • Isekadoya Beer Pale Ale – Lovely and hoppy with a good bitter aftertaste
  • Isekadoya Beer Brown Ale – Bitter and caramel and a little hoppy.. good!
  • Nogne 0 IPA – I tried this at Ushi Tora and didn’t like it. Last night was better than Ushi Tora – nicely bitter – but it still has the taste I don’t like.
  • Iwatekura Oyster Stout – Fizzy black creamy stout but not heavy. Very much like my Chocolate-elss Coffee Stout Experiment without the coffee taste.
  • Nide Cream Ale – A pils but not a pils. I’m not a huge fan of Nide (made by Baird). It’s a bit non-descript – but then I think that’s the point: It’s made to be sold to Japanese. Astoundingly many people go to Popeye and order Asahi Super Dry – I mean, Jesus! That’s completely missing the point of Popeye.
  • More Isekadoya Beer Pale Ale – the last beers of happy hour. Between 5-8pm you get free food with every beer marked with a crown on the menu – all the beers above qualified.
  • Speakeasy Prohibition Ale – as expected from the Big Daddy IPA, I really didn’t like this. It has the taste I don’t like.
  • Stone Levitation Ale – again, it has the taste I don’t like. This is definitely either a hop thing or a method thing – I must track this down. It was really hard to finish Levitation and Prohibition.
  • Onidensetsu Red Ale – a free pint for becoming a Popeye member. Rather non-descript red ale, very little hops. What’s funny is that in Korea, I used to hunt out a beer called Red Rock – which is like a weaker version of this red ale – because it has some taste, unlike Cass or OB or Hite. This isn’t a bad beer – like Nide isn’t a bad beer – it just doesn’t cut the mustard when stacked up against the other competition here.
  • Ozenoyukidoke IPA on hand pump, on hand pump with cascade, on hand pump with amarillo, and CO2
Just some of the taps at Popeye

Just some of the taps at Popeye

On the menu at the bottom of the Hops Heart section, it seems to imply that you can add extra cascade or amarillo to any beer – but I don’t know whether that’s true or whether the Japanese is misleading. After drinking all that, it wasn’t advisable for me to do any further exploration. I left Popeye 10,000 yen poorer but feeling priceless happiness.

Darn it! Just noticed that on side B they have a whole range of dark Hakusekikan beers, including the brown ale. I have to go back to Popeye soon!

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