Tasting the Pond Ripple Pale Ale..
I have to admit, I was a tad concerned. All those Star San bubbles, the mash dropping a couple of degrees, then missing out by 4 degrees with the mash out, as well as it only being my second time kegging. I was not only relieved, but quite proud to say the Pond Ripple Pale Ale is the best beer I’ve brewed so far…
As you can see it’s got a beautiful rich foamy head that maintained itself for the duration of drinking each pint. Before even taking a sip, the Citra Hops, (dry hopped on day 11 of fermentation), provide an amazing fruity/floral aroma that prepares and excites the palette. A pint glass was the right choice, as this beer is so easy to drink, very clean, crisp and perfectly balanced yet subtle in bitterness and sweetness. I’ll definitely be brewing this baby again. I think it’s perfect as a Spring beer, everything coming to life and fresh floral scents are reflected in the Pond Ripple’s clean crisp profile and aroma. If I had to be harsh on myself, the only area I could mark the beer down would be in colour, slightly hazy and a little dark for a pale ale, but this would probably change with a little aging and time to settle. I’m rating the beer after being cold crashed, kegged and force carbonated @25 psi for 48 hours. I have bottled one 750ml bottle for comparison, I’ll update this blog when cracked open and tasted in a few weeks.
Here’s the bottled version, it tastes just as good! It’s well carbed, but not as good head retention as the beer from the keg, the colour has also lightened a little with time for the beer to settle. I cautiously used 11/2 carbonation drops instead of 2 so that could have something to do with it. I’m not complaining though, just being picky, great drop!
A little bit about kegging…
I say “a little bit about kegging” because I’m not all that experienced, but probably enough to help you decide if you want to start kegging…
I was a deer with no I ‘s when i started kegging a couple of months ago. I only wanted a mini keg, and after shopping around I decided to go with the Small Batch All in One Mini Keg Kit . Having started my brewing journey with Small Batch and their products, I knew I would get helpful customer service if I struggled to get my head around kegging, and as the title suggests, you don’t need to buy anything else except CO2 as needed. Besides my first time losing all the CO2 due to not sealing everything correctly (the sound of gas hissing was the giveaway 😑), its been way easier than I thought.
So a few things to take in to consideration..
1) Do you have room in your fridge, or a spare fridge? I only have one fridge, but its a big fridge and I live by myself, so the keg fits in easily after removing a shelf. The keg is roughly 18cm wide, and 28 cm tall. With the tap on, ready to serve it’s around 40cm tall ( pictured with the tap turned sideways to cut down on height)
2) What sort of beer are you brewing? From research I’ve done high alcoholic beers and dark beers such as Stouts and Porters will improve with age, and therefore better bottled. You can also keg age such beers, but for me, that defeats the purpose of why I purchased my keg- forced carbonation!
Forced carbonation is the process (as the name suggests) of forcing CO2 into your beer, usually over a short period of time. I’ve found it very simple and cheap to do especially with soda stream gas.
So why go to the trouble? Well, no need to bottle, all you beer straight into the keg. And you’ll be drinking your beer a lot sooner, 48-72 hours later to be exact, instead of waiting 30+ days for bottle conditioning, that was the selling point for me! The other thing I’ve noticed with force carbonating is the carbonation and head on the beer is better than anything I’ve bottled so far, but I think that’s to be expected. Think when you’ve had one of your favorite beers on tap at the pub vs out of the bottle, if the beer is well poured and the pub keep their lines clean, on tap would always be the winner right?
Above is a keg set up for forced carbonation, once set up it’s as simple as turning the knob on the regulator (the gauge on top of the Soda Stream bottle) to 20-25 psi, it may drop a few psi over 24 hours, simply adjust again. The beer and keg should be chilled before and during force carbonation, as the beer absorbs the CO2 more easily at lower temperature. When serving, sometimes the beer will be too foamy, but easily fixed. Turn the gas off, burp the keg (let out all the gas by pulling on the key ring type attachment) then turn the gas back on slowly until the pour is to your liking.
For anyone like me that thought kegging seemed a little dangerous, with just the tiniest bit of common sense I think it’s safer than bottling. It would take a real purposeful effort to blow up a keg, bottles on the other hand can be more tedious and unpredictable.
I am still experimenting, my Eggnog Stout in the last few days became a sacrificial beer. I force carbonated it, and, well, it tasted nice. But the roasted, dark chocolate, malty flavours need to chill out, these flavours are a little dirty, strong and overpowers the background flavours of nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup. I am believing what I’ve read that such dark beers need to age and mellow…..yet the light’s as with the Pale Ale was amazing drinking immediately after fermentation.
So, I decided to bottle some of the Eggnog Stout after all, but I don’t have a bottling gun or CO2 tank🤔
After watching a few techniques online I came up with the following…. Hopefully in a couple of months my pre-carbonated bottled Stout will not only be still carbonated but improved in flavour 🤞
All I did was….
1) Sanitised a couple of bottles and a length of food grade hose that fits snugly into the keg tap. Before sanitising, the bottles and hosing chilled in the fridge overnight as the lower temperature reduces foaming.
2) Turned the gas off, and burped the keg.
3) Inserted a bottle over the hosing, ensuring I filled from the bottom up, as you would with a bottling wand, turned on the tap, and then slowly increased the psi until the Stout started flowing. I filled right to the top, allowing the tubing to displace an adequate head space.
4) Immediately after filling, sealed the caps and placed back in the fridge to age.
The trick is avoiding the beer foaming, as this releases the CO2 and will leave the flat, the beer barely foamed at all using this technique. I’ll try one after a month, and the other after two months and report back with an update on this blog about flavour and carbonation…..or if they became infected.🤞🍺
UPDATE: This didn’t work as well as I hoped, genreally filoing bootles from the keg this way beer would stay carbonated 2-3 days, a week tops.
Happy brewing! 🍺