Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Oak Aged Belgian Single 100% Fermented with Brettanomyces Clausenii

Belgian Single 100% Brettanomyces Fermented on White Wine soaked Oak

Appearance: Clear, Carbonated, and Yellow. Brett makes a beautiful beer.

Aroma: Funk developed in this one. The scent was a bit of yeast and day old fruit rind. It was unique but I liked it. I'm struggling to describe it but I definitely liked it.

Flavor: Ehh, there wasn't as much flavor from the brett as I'd have liked. It had mild fruit tones but was largely grainy, and not sweet at all.

Mouthfeel: Carbonated and dry. Easy drinking.

Overall: Brettanomyces makes a unique beer. It seems as the flavors it creates are dramatically effected by the stress you put on it. I'd like to do more tests on brettanomyces and I probably will at some point. I'll see how brettanomyces does in my rustic saison before I pass judgement on how it works in a saison. The dryer beer leads to an easy consumption. Average overall because it lacked anything other than an interesting nose and slight funk. This beer is a C effort.

Monday, January 21, 2013

White Peach Golden Sour Review

Sanctification Clone White Peach

This was one of my highlights from last summer. When I went to rack my beer into secondary there was almost a gallon left over. So I quickly cleaned a one gallon carboy and filled it with beer. I had a golden opportunity to try something new and exciting! This became white peaches after a tour around Meijer's fruit department. The peaches were delicious, among the best I've ever had, very fleshy and sweet without any of the flavor I hate from canned peaches. The beer wasn't ready when I cracked the first bottle but the bottle I cracked was well aged. I became very hopeful after drinking it that I was doing good work.

Appearance: The body is a deep golden color. The wheat seems to have made the body quite cloudy. The thin white head is not quite as robust as I had hoped for.

Aroma: The aroma has a nice lactic note to it. The brett funk is earthy and barnyard like. There is that classic sour scent that let me know I was doing well.

Flavor: Lactic, horse-blanket barnyard, hay. The brett was funky and the lactic notes were pleasant  Brett Blend 9 and Bug Farm 6 made a great beer thus far. The white peach was a subtle note under the sourness and funk. The flavors were of a juicy peach right there under the funk and sourness when the beer warmed. This was a winner.

Mouthfeel: Flatter than I wanted. Dry.

Overall: This was easy to drink as it had next to no body. The carbonation on this could have been bumped up by 100% and I would have enjoyed it. I might try the carb cap and see if it dramatically improves things. I'm excited to bottle and drink the regular version of this beer that is still bulk aging

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: American Double Stout

First let me say that this beer did not carbonate in the bottles, I added red wine yeast at bottling along with sugar and it didn't turn out. I had bought some champagne yeast but couldn't find it so I used the red wine yeast figuring it would work. It did not. The first picture is of the flat dead beer. Zero carbonation developed in the bottle. I did what I could do; I used a clean empty two liter bottle and poured in the beer, I then used the carbonator cap to force carbonation of it.

Appearance: Rich, dark, nice tan head when carbonated. The beer coated the glass after drinking and the tan head remained as a ring throughout the experience.

Aroma: Somewhat limited; Roasty, and chocolaty. Rich is how I would describe it. Like a somewhat burned chocolate cupcake. Negligible bourbon, vanilla, or oak.

Flavor: Roasty! the roast flavor was upfront and had notes of bourbon and oak tannin. I never really got the vanilla from the beans or the oak. The chocolate wasn't as forward as I had hoped for. 

Mouth: The carbonation was on the high side for a russian imperial stout, it made the beer seem more alive that I'd have liked it to be. It was prickly where it should have been coating. The carbonator cap has its limits.

Overall: I am disappointed that the bottles didn't carb up. The flavors weren't as eye popping or distinguishable as I'd like. Aging for a year took some of the heat off but I think It could have gone even longer. I'll probably dump 2 of the three remaining bottles and save the last one for some future date. I'll resurrect it with about 8 psi carbonation and see down the road how everything turned out. I'd give the carbonated version of this beer a C/D because it was a roasty large imperial beer with plenty of alcohol. It lacked the bold bourbon flavors I had hoped it would have, and it didn't really offer the multi-dimensional roast/chocolate/vanilla flavors that I had hoped for. I've had worse imperial beers than this but I am dissatisfied with the outcome. We'll see next year what the second attempt yields.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hopcat: 5th Anniversary & Oil Rigger Release

Saturday was Hopcat's fifth anniversary. Hopcat for those of you who don't live in Grand Rapids Michigan is the city and perhaps the state's preeminent beer bar. It's a place that has helped cultivate my love and understanding of different beers. Finding a place like this really helped me grow in my appreciation for styles by having many examples of a style on draft side by side. You can't really appreciate the nuances of something without a point of reference. Two Russian Imperial Stouts side by side is an experience in decadence; it also allows you to appreciate their differences as you sample one and then another. The fifth anniversary party taught me a few things that I didn't know before and gave me a great opportunity to try a great beer.

(please read more about my day out after the break.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Brew Goals 2013

Happy New Year!

Last year I had some brewing resolutions lets see how I did:

Brew a beer with lager yeast; I did, my Weizen Doppel Bock. Blend a sour ale from my stock of sour ales, attempt blending; Postponed. Manufacture Tap Handles for Atlas Ale, Howard Roark Red, and Golden One Pale Ale. Failed. Work out a recipe for my house pale ale based on feedback from Kyle, Derek & others; Work in progress. Work out a recipe for the house red ale based on my two past failures; Work in progress. Attempt to make a few more small sours & quick sours (post incoming); I made batch 001, batch 002, and my rustic saison. Brew and Keg at least 2 more beers; Done! Finish out my small brewery with a malt mill; Done! and, Keep detailed notes and measurements about my brewing. Work in progress. I failed at measuring OG for all of my brews.

So I did alright. Perhaps tap handles was a bit ambitious, brewing a pale ale/ red ale are on my horizon, and I utterly failed at taking measurements. Taking measurements is something easy that I could do on my way to making better, consistent, repeatable beer. I got a malt mill, a champaign corker, and additional small kegs. I've made numerous sours and plan to blend them. Last year I miss understood the timeline of sours; they work on their own schedule.

Next year I am going to set lofty expectations for myself again: 
  1. Brew 25 batches of beer, cider, or mead including:
    1. Rye Blonde Sour
    2. Artisanal Belgian Red
    3. American Red Ale
    4. American Pale Ale
    5. Belgian Dark Strong Ale
  2. Blend a gueuze from my lambics.
  3. Read and review the brewing books I already own.
  4. Enter a beer competition.
  5. Average six blog posts per month.
That sounds like a good start for 2013. I'll probably do many things I can't even really conceive of yet but If I start with some loose goals I'll be in a good position come 2014. In 2014 the NHBC comes to my adopted home town of Grand Rapids, MI. I'd like to enter a beer that I have refined from previous tasting notes into that competition. I am thinking that perhaps a splendid gueuze blended with the help of my girlfriend might be my ticket to victory.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Belgian Dark Strong Ale

The flavors of a Belgian dark strong ale come from the interplay of Belgian yeast and candi sugar. Traditionally the flavors in these beers are made with a very simplistic malt bill. It has been rumored that Westvleteren 12 is made with water, pale malt, candi sugar, local hops, and yeast. Those five things combine to form one of the worlds best beers. A while back I ordered a pitch of Belgian Abbey from East Coast Yeast so that gives me another ECY to evaluate.

My plan for this beer was to explore my home made candi sugar vs. the store bought kind but I can tell you after tasting the store bought one that it is better. I'm not sure how to describe the differences. The store bought one had the same deep caramel flavors as my home made variety. I would describe these as burnt sugar. It also had a metallic but pleasing flavor and a sugary flavor that added to everything else that was going on. The multi dimensional flavors of the authentic candi sugar make me want to use it in other Belgian beers moving forward.

(please read more after the break.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chocolate Ale: The Return of Small Batch Brewing

In the spirit of the Mayan apocalypse that came and went on the 21st I brewed a chocolate ale. Chocolate was first cultivated by the Mayans and was a big part of their culture. The might have gotten the end of the world wrong but they got chocolate right. I had my first chocolate beer when I had a bottle of Young's Double Chocolate Stout. It was a revelation in a bottle; the flavors were of an authentic stout but also very chocolatey. I've since had Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgance, Sam Adam's Chocolate Bock, and The Bruery's Chocolate Rain. Cocoa can add a lot to a beer. It really accentuates the robust flavors of dark roasted grains. The sugar leftover after fermentation combines with the dark cocoa in much the same way as as milk chocolate. I've formulated my own stout recipe around the idea of chocolate malts and

(read more after the break.)