Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tasting of 3 recent beers
Ah man, this week sucks hard. I was sitting down starting to grind up grains for an IPA yesterday with some Newport hops I picked up from Upright, when I reached over a little too far and somehow threw lower back into a spasm. It hurt, but I thought if I took it fairly easy through the brewday, it would probably loosen up eventually. Sometime during the runoff, it seemed to spasm even harder and I was in a world of pain. So I had to totally cancel the brewday and luckily I wasn't halfway through the boil, when I would have wasted hops too.
Today I'm just sitting around the house, laying on a heating pad, tranqued up on advil, codeine, and reading For Whom the Bell Tolls. This sucks because I was supposed to help Upright with 2 brewdays and help another brewery do a bottling run on Friday, all of which I will probably have to miss. I'm currently consoling myself with a Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (I have a soft spot for traditional pumpkin ales around this time of year) and an episode of Brew Strong. I thought, what better way to do a little beer tasting since I could use the muscle relaxing properties, and apparently I won't be brewing this week. Wah, Wah...
Starting light to dark:
All Brett Wheat Session Ale: Fruity, clean aroma, mainly of apple & pear, light hoppy spicyness, pils malt background. Light vanilla sweetness, light phenols. No classic brett or barnyard. Blonde and appealing color with a big head, which slowly recedes to patchy islands of foam. Great lacing. Flavor is somewhat phenolic with a touch or horse hair & earthy/smoky nuances. Very clean, drinkable beer with a light sweetness. Bitterness is low but balanced. Medium body, medium-high carbonation. Finishes somewhat tart, but just a twang, in no way a sour beer. Very easy to drink in volume. Overall: A good session ale but nowhere near as much brettanomyces character as I had hoped. No evidence of further fermentation in the keg, so I don't think it's worth aging, but it's probable that it would have picked up an more classic brett character with time. It was the crowd favorite at Clarissa's birthday party.
Clarissa's Sweat Meat Saison: Hints of fruit in the aroma with some higher alcohols. A dry graininess that is a little carboardy. Very hard to describe, but not very inviting. Nice orange color and nice head, no problems there. Flavor is fairly sweet up front, even though this beer finished very dry. Again, a dry grainy quality and more alcohol than I would like, but not terrible. Mouthfeel is fairly dry, but with good effervescence. Overall: Not my favorite beer. It seems to have a variety of strange flavors that do not mesh well, at least yet. The fact that it dried out so much puts all the flavors out in the open with no body or sweetness to bring them together. This is, however, the first saison I have spiced that did not come out over-spiced! Sorry Clarissa, I will try to make you a better birthday beer next year!
Fresh-hopped Black Saison: Aroma is somewhat hop-resinous, with a big rose note & perfumeyness. Dark malts are mainly in the background with no roastiness noted. Noticeable alcohol presence but pretty light for an 8% beer. Appearance is a very clear dark brown, almost black with cherry highlights, what you would expect from a dark schwazbier or a robust porter, with a big head which fades to an even 1/4 inch. Flavor is of hops up front, but fairly balanced with sweet malts. Light caramel/molasses, not prominent. Bitterness I would guestimate at 45 IBU's. Finishes a little bitter but overall very balanced. Perception of medium body even though it dried out to 1.007. Overall, I really like this beer, but it is something I would drink a goblet of and probably switch to something else after that. It turned out much more balanced than I expected, much of which is probably due to the hops that we had on hand (I designed the recipe around big citrusy American hops, and we received a lot Willamette, a much more subtle hop). This was the crowd 2nd favorite at the party.
Overall, I think these beers turned out pretty well. I went in knowing that they would be experimental, and with experiments you always get some surprises, some happy, some a let down. I might try to bottle off some of the brett beer and the fresh-hopped saison, to see what they do over the next 6 months.
Oh yeah, and the Belgian Dark Strong I did recently took 3rd in the Roots Competition (I'm not sure out of how many beers). Not bad for a 20 day old beer at 10.8%!