Monday, August 29, 2011

Reflections on a Gose: a tragedy in two parts

So, in my last post, I alluded to my Gose going bad. Well, I'm giving it another shot this weekend but in the meantime I wanted to tell my sad story...

Now, the first thing that went wrong was manageable: it was way more sour than I intended. The last time I brewed a Gose with lacto I let it inoculate for roughly 40 hours, and it dropped down to around 3.9. This time I let it inoculate for five days. The result? A pH of 3.2, which might not sound that different but, considering that pH is logarithmic, is. It's the difference between refreshingly tart (think lemonade) and downright sour (like an Oud Bruin). Not only did I feel this was more sour than I wanted, but it also raised the concern that the yeast may not be able to survive.

Well, it turned out the yeast was indeed able to ferment the acidic wort, though it still tasted more sour than I want. The good news was I had five gallons of Hefeweizen as well and could blend to the appropriate level of sourness. EXCEPT...

...while the Gose was in secondary I never changed from crimped foil to an airlock and somehow the foil cap blew off of my carboy while in my chest freezer. The result two days later was a white powder on the top of the Gose and a stench that could best be described as nail polish cleaner. Yup, had to dump all five gallons. It was a sad day, to say the least.

Now the good news is now I have an idea of the range of pH I'm dealing with. 40 hours? pH around 4, not bad but not exactly where I want it. 110 hours? pH around 3.2, which is too sour. So this time I'm thinking of shooting for around 75 hours with a pH of 3.45 (if my use of semi-log paper is accurate, which is a big if).

The other thing I'm doing is switching up my grain bill yet again. In this case, I'm planning on doing a split batch with my Münster Alt, which usually calls for 50% pils, 40% wheat and 10% Munich grain bill. However, Gose should be at least 50% wheat and, well, it's hard to find accurate info on Münster Alt so I decided to go with a compromise grain bill of 50% wheat, 40% pils and 10% Munich. So anyway, that's the plan for this weekend. Can't wait to see how this Gose turns out (and this time I'll be using a stopper and fermentation lock!).


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