On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, WBN chronicles the Session Beers: Imperial Irish Red Ale.
Irish Red Ale. O.G. 1.0??, F.G. 1.010, ABV 5+%
Irish Draught Ale: Like Irish stouts, Irish ales are sociable session beers with a low alcohol content but substantial body. This beer pours with a deep red color and tan head over a caramel-like malt character with roasty and fruity notes. The flavors are intensified by a 5:4 ratio of wort to water.
This started out as a normal Irish Red session beer, similar to the Irish Red Draught previously. However, I wasn't paying as strict attention this time, as I was trying to demonstrate the process to one of the Homebrew members who managed to miss every other brew day so far. As a result, we only put in 4 gallons of water in our finished wort instead of the usual 5 gallons. Usually this is a boil technique to vary the hops utilization, but in this case it was just plain oversight.
The next day I panicked a little when fermentation didn't start. This led me to double checking the steps and counting the gallon lines on the fermenter. To my horror, we were one short. I started checking the homebrew forums for "stuck fermentation" and "not enough water".
The first result assured me that I should NOT try to add water to the wort (since we'd already pitched the yeast) for fear of contaminating the wort and losing the whole thing or making it taste watered down. The second problem resolved itself when fermentation slowly started 48 hours later. If it hadn't started, we could have pitched fresh yeast. Sometimes it takes the yeast a little bit to get started, especially if you use dry yeast and don't make a "starter" - guilty on both counts.
I'm spoiled by liquid yeast; I don't want to make any more dry yeast batches. Anyway, I let the wort sit 7 weeks and then kegged. It is carbonating now via forced CO2, but the taste is actually pretty yummy. Definitely a concentrated Irish Red, hence the designation "Imperial". If you like Imperial styles, but don't want a boatload of alcohol, then this is the one for you.
There's nothing like mistakes you can drink: bottom's up!