Lessons Learned From Bottle Caps
Last night while watching a heart-wrenching Celtics loss in OT to the Heat, I bottled up the third version of Churhyard's Rhönring Hefeweizen. And topping off each 16.9 oz. bottle was a new customized cap!
Using new caps actually makes me a little nervous. I made the mistake some months ago of buying a bunch of colored caps off of amazon.
do not buy these caps!
Huge mistake. I bought green caps, orange caps, yellow caps, blue caps, red caps, and pine green caps, and each cap (with the exception of the blue caps) did not properly seal the bottle. The result? 25 gallons of uncarbonated beer.
What a loss!! I lost an American Wild Ale that was brewed with apple, an IPA with fresh Rhode Island Hops, and the first version of my Hefeweizen. Thankfully the blue caps did a good job (they capped by Smoked Porter, Sludge), but after the IPA, I stopped using the caps altogether.
After that third ruined batch, I needed to figure out exactly where the problem lay. Was it my capper? The new caps? At the same time I started using colored caps, I also switched to all grain brewing. So was something faulty with my all grain process?
Well, the all grain brewing process was fine, and the capper was fine. But the caps weren't. Needless to say, I went back to buying ordinary gold caps.
But once again, the fancy-cap bug bit. I was shown BottleMark Custom Caps by a friend, and at only 25¢ a cap, I had to give them a try. The fact that BeerAdvocate endorsed them also helped ease my mind.
And boy, do they look nice! The Rhönring caps sport the Churchyard logo, beer name, and ABV. Simple, but elegant. If these work (we'll find out in three weeks), I may start using them pretty frequently.
And what of the third batch of Rhönring? I hit my target FG (1.012) which means the ABV is exactly 5.2%. (which is darned good, because that's what I had printed on the caps!) The color is exactly what I wanted it to be (creamy caramel), and having fermented at a lower temperature (64°), it is certainly full of a spicy clove flavor. I also upped the wheat:pils grain ratio, and it seems as though I eliminated the cereal grain flavor of the 2nd version.
Is it better? I can't know yet, but I'll be sure to do a full review of the beer in three weeks. I will be curious to try a side-by-side vertical comparison.
Are you a brewer? Have any opinions as to the perfect Hefe? Post below! I'd love to hear your input!
a case of Rhönring Hefe