Luckily we did not pour out the beer we were bottling on Friday night that we thought was infected with acetobacter. I did manage to pour out one or two of the dozen or so bottles, but Thomas transferred the remainder of the unbottled beer to a 3-gallon carboy.
Which is fortunate, since the beer in question was actually an American pale ale I’d made in July. We should have realized this, since it wasn’t nearly dark enough to be a Southern English brown ale; but neither did it taste hoppy enough to be an American pale ale. If I recall correctly (I can’t find my notes from this particular brew), I had to take the boil to 90 minutes or maybe even 2 hours, to reduce the volume of wort sufficiently. Hence some hops that I’d intended to be flavor hops ended up being bittering hops due to the time they spent in the boil. Also for some reason the fermentation was incomplete – finishing gravity was 1.014 rather than the expected 1.010 – and what we were tasting and thought was acetic acid was in fact acetaldehyde.
We discovered our mistake on Saturday when we went to bottle the supposed American pale, which was in fact the Southern English brown. Thomas said “What is wrong with this picture? This carboy has lots of hop residue on the shoulders. It can’t be your pale – your pale was in secondary.” With the Southern English brown and the mild, we’d only had time to do a primary fermentation and then go straight to bottling. So we tasted it, and sure enough, it tasted a lot like a Southern English brown has been described as tasting – the only flaw being perhaps a bit too much roasty graininess
So we’ve got a good mild, a decent Southern English brown, a dozen bottles of unripe and green-apple-tasting American pale that probably won’t improve much, and 3 gallons of American pale bubbling away now that the priming sugar and the action of transferring it have woken up the yeast sufficiently to finish the fermentation. Also I put a ½ ounce Cascade hop plug in it to try to impart more hop aroma.
And in the meantime we went out and bought the ingredients to rebrew the Southern English brown, and I have the grains ground and the recipe put together for another American pale. So we’re going to have a lot of beer around the house soon.