An Experimental Weekend

This weekend wasn't supposed to be a brewing weekend.  And I didn't.  Mostly.

Ok, maybe, I boiled a little dry extract with a couple of hop pellets and pitched a some yeast, but this was an experiment...FOR SCIENCE!  Ok, no, not for science, but to see if the yeast I harvested from some local plums was viable for brewing.

Uh, is that what I think it is?
The experiment sat, unmoving, for almost 24 hours.  I was starting to get concerned.  Then little white spots appeared and concern turned to frustration.  Did I really just get my first infected batch?  Over the hours of that evening, more and more white spots appeared.  I started to write off the experiment in my head - content to stick to the trio of commercially available yeasts in my fridge.  Then I looked closer...
NOT MOLD! HOORAY!
 ...and I breathed a sigh of relieve.  What looked like white mold from a couple of feet away turned out of be tightly bunched air bubbles.  The experiment was underway and had a better chance of being successful!  If anything, this yeast seems to be very slow.  There hasn't been much in the way of a krausen, but it IS working away.  I need to take a gravity reading soon to check on the actual progress from the OG of 1.032, but that won't be until the end of the week at the earliest so that it has plenty of time to do what it's going to do.

But wait, there's more!

My belgian dubbel had been in primary for a week as of Sunday and I hadn't touched it once!  It went through rip roaring primary fermentation - THE most rapid action in an airlock that I have ever seen - but has been a bit quiet for the last few days.  It was time to split the 2 gallon batch!

Simmered plums waiting for beer.
Above you can see the 4 ounces of freshly picked local plums (just about a block from the house) that are going to hang out with a gallon of beer for a week.  In order to sanitize them and to make them all nice and saucy, I just tossed them in a pot with just a little water and let it rip for about 15 minutes.  Once that cooled, it was time to go into the one gallon carboy.

dubbel in waiting
 It's always fun to crack a bucket and see what's there.  In this case, it was a little surprising just how dark it was, but then again, it's 2 gallons deep in a 3.5 gallon bucket.  The aroma is spot on.  It smelled absolutely amazing.  I took gravity reading and was a little surprised with what I found though.  This OG 1.068 brew that should have stopped somewhere around 1.010 was all the way down to 1.004...aka 8.4% abv! Once again, I end up overshooting the mark on the ABV of a dubbel. At least this time I can say a high OG wasn't the cause of it.  My guess is that a warm fermentation and the mash temp were the two main contributing factors.  Then again, I also used a different sugar as well.  Who knows.  But, it tasted great!  The little bit that I had out of the test tube tasted like it was well on its way to becoming a good beer.

Plum-dub on left, plain-dub on right
All that's left now is to give both of these another week in the jugs before bottling and then letting them set AT LEAST 3 weeks...if not longer.  That 8.4% minimum should mean that it will age well.  But don't worry - I'll be sure to test early on as well....FOR SCIENCE!

Additional brewery thoughts - I think it's time for my belgian smoked porter to get worked on and, sooner than later, get those labels on the Questionable Shortcut CDA before I have a bunch of naked bottles cavorting around and getting mixed up.