I opened up the first bottle at 6pm last night (8/5/2003) and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was drinkable! Well, there are some caveats there and this is measured against the past attempts, but is basically a success. Unfortunately, I think I would have to qualify it as “drinkable” at best.
The Nottingham ale yeast adds a really nice bitter note that would be excellent if there was more general flavor or sweetness to play against. Basically I think it needed more. More sugar, and more flavor extract.
As the stuff warms, it starts to produce a bit of a sulfur smell again, but not nearly what we got with the last 2 batches which tells me one of 2 things: It carbonated too long, or there was too much yeast, or a little of both most likely. I think ~60 hours (The early bottle got 66 hours, was very well carbonated, and was markedly less skunky than the rest that got 76 hours and were almost too carbonated [marked by some bubble up when opened, but didn’t spill over]) and about 2/3rds as much yeast should produce something very nice indeed.
But it’s drinkable, which in my eyes is a success of sorts, and definitely gives me a direction to go with the next batch. This time I’ll be measuring the yeast much more accurately for example (by weight of course) and with a smaller carbonation time I think it might actually come out something resembling good. :-)
I’m going to keep a few of the bottles for aging data (4 of them? Open at 6 day intervals?), but I think I might try and do another batch this weekend and see how it turns out.
For those who are interested:
Yeast: Nottingham Ale Yeast (Product#Y005) $1.25: The package said 11 grams, and I used ~1/3rd of it by volume since I didn’t bring my scale.
Extract: Old Fashioned Soda – Root Beer extract (Product#5500) $3.95: I used about 1/3rd of the bottle. Should have used half.
Sugar: Bulk Corn Sugar (Product#2200) $4.00: I used 2 cups.