Saturday, January 30, 2010

Seanywonton's Brewing Blog is 2 years old!

I was recently looking through some of my old brew logs and came upon my first post, written on January 30th, 2008, and I realized I should probably write a little something special for this blog's second birthday! I'm going to celebrate with a little tasting of some recent beers I've brewed, and also make a special announcement: I've been hired on as a brewer at a soon-to-be-open brewpub called Breakside Brewing, which means I'M GOING TO GET PAID TO BREW BEER!!! The location will be in Northeast Portland. We should be opening in April if all goes well. There are going to be 3 of us brewing our butts off on a 15 gallon Sabco Brewmagic system until the owners can upgrade to a full-size brewhouse, hopefully in the first 6-9 months. I'll be working there part-time, a 2-3 days a week at least, and I might pick up some extra work at another brewery until something becomes a full-time gig.

I'm really excited about this new opportunity. Yes, I would probably prefer to be working on a full-scale brewhouse, but I think we will get there before too long. Plus, I've already been a part of deciding what kind of beers we will have on tap, and designing recipes with the 2 other brewers, Tony and Ben. I don't think I would really get that opportunity for at least a year or two if I was working for a bigger established brewery.

If you are in the Portland area, it would be great if you could come by and support us when we open. I'll announce our opening day on the blog at some point. I'm not sure how this blog will be effected by the shift in my brewing towards the professional side, but I'll probably keep it going with mainly my homebrewing stuff and some occasional stuff about what we do at the brewery.

So to celebrate here's a tasting of 3 recent beers:

Aroma: Caramel, dark fruit, grainy and toasty with a noticeable tobacco note. Characteristic English maltiness with very low esters, yeast is very restrained for an English ale. Hardly noticeable hops - OK for style.
Appearance: Very low carbonation, low to no head, OK for style but maybe I should just pour more vigorously for better head. Great clarity, pretty much crystal clear auburn color appropriate for a dark mild or brown ale.
Flavor: Full maltyness up front, with some moderate sweetness, followed by a toasty, dry, grainy finish. Very low bitterness, ester, and alcohol presence. Very quaffable.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation but some prickly sensation mid-swallow. Might actually be a bit over-carbonated for a mild. Dry, grainy finish.
Overall: A super-sessionable mild ale. I think that it would be more to style if the toasty, grainy flavors were reduced somewhat (maybe taking out the brown malt), and it's slightly above spec in both starting and finishing gravity, which probably make the mouthfeel a bit "big" for style. I'm very happy with the results, although in the future I might adjust the grain bill a bit, potentially playing with adding a traditional brewing syrup. I would also switch to a yeast like Fuller's that kicks off a lot of esters for a little extra aroma and English character. This yeast is too clean.

Aroma: Moderate esters, pear is distinguishable along with a "mystery fruit" quality. Low banana, some spice. Vanilla character from malt. Moderate alcohol is noticeable but well integrated with a grainy finish. Clean, not funky.
Appearance: Crystal clear, light gold with a 3-finger white head that dies down somewhat but sticks around at 1/4 inch (bottle version has more carbonation and longer lasting head). Sticklers might say it's too clear for a saison.
Flavor: Smooth malts with vanilla, grainy and bready, flavors, but very dry. Well integrated bitterness and a grassy, lightly spicy hop flavor mid-palate to finish. Very smooth finish, especially for the fairly high alcohol level.
Mouthfeel: Medium-high carbonation, fuller in mouthfeel than very low F.G. would suggest. Somewhat creamy and smooth, with light warming alcohol.
Overall: I'm really happy with this beer. It reminds me quite a bit of Hennepin in its malt profile and fairly smooth character for a farmhouse ale. There is a similar yeast character somehow. It is so dry, it almost seems like a golden strong ale with a more grainy finish. When this beer was young it seemed to have a rough grainy edge that faded over a couple of months. I think this is just because it's so dry. Possible improvements would be to cut down on the vienna/aromatic malt to avoid the weird grainyness that was unpleasant when the beer was young. Other possibilities could be to use some spicier hop variety in the finish, and optionally raise the IBU's a tad, but not necessarily.

Aroma: Cherry cola-like note from black malt, moderate caramel, bitter chocolate, some alcohol. Light hop aroma, fairly neutral.
Appearance: Black from afar but reddish when held to light, great clarity. Tan head with good resilience.
Flavor: Full flavored maltiness including caramel, dark fruit, grainy/toasty notes, and an excellent bitter chocolate finish. Roast is on the high side for a porter, but within style. Hops have faded since this beer was brewed. It was quite hoppy when young, and there is still a pleasant bitterness in the finish that lingers nicely, but less hop flavor.
Mouthfeel: Medium-low carbonation, creamy with a wonderful roasty bite at the end.
Overall: This is about as stout of a beer you can get and still call it a porter, if you ask me. I really like it, but I'm thinking of reducing the IBU's a bit to emphasize the maltiness and keep it away from stout territory. I kind of like the mouthfeel that the flaked barley gave it but I'm not sure if it's necessary. Another possibility is to leave the recipe alone but just brew it to a lower gravity, and IBU accordingly (i.e. leave all the ingredients the same but make a slightly bigger batch to get it to 1.059 - 1.060)

Here's a parting shot of my current Belgian / sour ales situation. Not bad, eh? The one fermenting in front is a Saison Dupont "clone" that I brewed up yesterday and I'll post about soon. Although I'm not trying to make an exact clone, I'd like to try this side-by-side with a bottle of my favorite beer in the world to see how it measures up.

Cheers, happy brewing, and thanks for reading!


Brett Begani said...

okay. now can you come over to taste some of our Braggots? I'd like to move commercial just for these specific beers. as well as I have a couple locations looking for contract brewing "house" brands. let's talk!
captcha of the day: blehai

Hunington said...

Congrats on the job. Blogging about your brewing experiences at your new gig would be awesome. Beer-enthusiasts get to see lots of homebrew blogging, but not much blogging from the professionals. A few pics each week with some description of what you're up to at work would be really cool. With you being a homebrewer, it would be fun to see how the two processes compare and contrast. Plus, I'm always curious about what influences a brewer to make a style choice -- why brew one beer over another -- is there some magic formula for what consumers will buy, are you constrained/inspired by a particular "brand" statement of the brewery, the tastes/whims of the owners and brewers, all of the above? Curious as to your shop's take on this issue. Happy brewing!

jaymo said...

Congratulations on your new job! That's great news.

Patrick Beeson said...


I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and am impressed with the styles you brew.

I'm a little more than a year into homebrewing, and your efforts are inspiring.

derrickvee said...

Congrats on the new gig. I don't live too far from the Breakside location. I was just up there on Thursday peaking in the windows trying to see how far along it was. Knowing you're brewing there, I'll definitely be up to check out the brews when it opens. Congrats again.

sadotter said...

Congratulations, Sean! I'll keep a lookout in the news for Breakside Brewing.

Seanywonton said...

Thanks so much for all the support and blog suggestions, guys. Once we get up and running in April I'd love to have your feedback on the beers too!

chrispost said...

Hey Sean, good to read what you're up to, and congrats with the new openings at the brewery! Missed you at Chelsea for Homebrew Alley 4... Could have done with that inimitable seanywonton style for dealing with some whiners...! Cheers! Chris Post

Todd said...

Congratulations on your new job Sean! Good to see all your hard, pants-less work is paying off.