Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Maisonette 2.0

After my first attempt at a Mosaic Table Saison turned out so well I decided to make a 6 gallon batch, split into two batches with different yeast strains.  Unlike my first attempt this version is an all grain batch but is designed to be very similar with just the replacement of turbinado with white sugar and a slight increase in the wheat percentage.

Fermentables



Amount
Fermentable
Maltster

Use
PPG
Color
7.0 lb
Any
71 %
Mash
37
1 °L
2.5 lb
Any
25 %
Boil
40
2 °L
0.33 lb
Any
3 %
Boil
46
0 °L
Hops
Amount
Hop
Time
Use
Form
AA
0.35 oz
60 min
Boil
Pellet
12.8%
0.35 oz
10 min
Boil
Pellet
12.8%
1.7 oz
1 min
Boil
Pellet
12.8%
Yeasts
Name
Lab/Product
Attenuation
Yeast Blend

80.0%

The 2 yeast options are my Saison blend #3 (primarily Wyeast French Saison with some Brett'd beer dregs) and the second use of the Tired Hands yeast from the last version of Maisonette.


Updates
These were bottled over a month ago, both at an FG of 1.007 and in 3 gallon kegs. The Tired Hands version is still in the keezer though the other was removed to make room for other beers.
Tasting 1- Tired Hands Version

Appearance- hazy yellow/white. Looks like a good wheat near though the head is a bit short lived, leaving just a few strange clumps on the top after a few minutes.

Smell- very similar to the previous Tired Hands fermented version: lemony, fruity, lightly spicy. The Mosaic are present but don't shine the way I would like.

Taste- the funky, lightly tart yeast are again front and center with grainy, wheaty malt character and just a touch of bitterness to back it up. The hop flavor is really subdued here, when it should e the star.

Mouthfeel- fairly thin and dry with moderate carbonation (the regulator is set to around 11 PSI). About the body I want from a saison, and it makes for a fairly refreshing beer despite the low bitterness.

Overall- this beer, like the previous version made with the Tired Hands yeast, is enjoyable enough but isn't exactly what I'm looking for in Maisonette. The yeast character is too distracting and I think I prefer the wheat percentage a little lower (it was about 25% in this iteration but closer to 20% in the original). Hopefully I can post a tasting of the other version soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Maisonette Tasting

Appearance- bright pale gold, cloudy with a billowy white head that lasts and lasts.

Smell- citrus, funk, berry, hay. The "funk" that dominates on first sniff seems to be an earthy hop derived character that fades to increased grapefruit peel, fresh fields, and the fruity berry that is mosaic.

Taste- lightly tart, fruity, citrus, pear, a little of that funk from the nose- whether it is hop or yeast derived- shows in middle. Finish is a lingering mild bitterness. Fairly juicy and refreshing.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied but finishing somewhat dry. This seems to work perfectly for this beer making it super mouth filling but also quenching.

Overall- a very good beer though a slight step down from the previous version that used a different yeast. I really like what this yeast brings to the table and will definitely pitch it again in another saison but would've liked the hops to be able to dominate more in this particular beer.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Maisonette (Mosaic Table Saison)

I rarely brew extract batches since moving to all grain.  While I feel that good beers can be made with extract, it is hard to get a world class beer and impossible to nail some styles. I  do always try to have extract on hand for making starters or filling in the gravity gaps in beers and  Maisonette started as a yeast starter, specifically a way to step up growler dregs from a Tired Hands Beautiful Luminescent Crystal. Props to Scott Janish and Sean Gugger for giving me the idea to step up their dregs from the growler. Beautiful Luminescent Crystal was a sort of moderately strong wheat saison that used the same base yeast blend of their also delicious and more famous flagship SaisonHands.

The yeast (or yeast blend) is suspected to be the Brasserrie de Blaugies saison strain (possibly with additional yeast or bacteria included) and produces a great fruity, slightly tart, and slightly funky character.  These characters seem like they could pair with a wide range of characteristics: classic grainy saisons, spiced/fruited/sour varieties, and especially fruity/tropical American hops.  After stepping the yeast up 2 few times to get a 2 quart starter I found myself ready to brew but with only a few hours available and no chance to head to the homebrew store: time to make due with what I have on hand.

I still had some vacuum sealed Mosaic hops in my freezer from my very tasty Belgian session IPA and had been wanting to brew with them again.  With just a small amount of pils and wheat dry extracts on hand I decided that I would make a small 3 gallon batch (with an extra .5 gallons leftover for a different yeast).  This batch was intended to be a bit of a grisette, with lower gravity than a standard saison and 20% wheat and was also intended to highlight the yeast and hop aromatics, without too much bitterness or other distractions.  The recipe is so simple:

2 lbs. dry pilsner malt extract
1 lb.  dry wheat extract (65% wheat, 35% barley)
2 oz. turbinado sugar (to slightly increase the color and alcohol)
Mosaic hops .2 oz at 60 minutes, .2 oz at 15 minutes and .9 oz at flameout.
Mosaic dry-hop/keg hop tbd.

Brewing took about 3 hours from the start of gathering water until the wort was sufficiently cooled and yeast pitched.  the extra 1/2 gallon (the second starter was really just a small version of this beer so it wasn't decanted, leaving me with extra wort) was pitched with a mix of two saison blends I had on hand, a Brettanomyces heavy mix and a clean blend of two saison strains.  Both batches took off very quickly with the 3 gallon Tired Hands version blasting huge amounts of yeast and hops through the blowoff tube.

To nerd out about about the name a little, the word Maisonette is French for little house (maison meaning house) and is used in English to generally refer to 2 floor or other large apartments in the UK.  In a happy coincidence I happened to see the word for the first time while reading Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" the week before brewing this beer and realized that it also fits nicely as a portmanteau of the words Mosaic, Saison, and Grisette.

3/27/15
Fermentation on the Tired Hands yeast version has nearly completed.  Kegged the 1/2 gallon brett saison "B" version.

3/29/15


Brief tasting notes on version "B".  One common flavor descriptor that get thrown around for mosaic hops is blueberry, but the fruity characters come off more to me as strawberry jam/juicy fruit gum, almost a processed or artificial berry component but when mixed with citrus, mango, and some light pine they are extremely juicy and mouthwatering.  This beer tastes excellent with the hops really dominating and I am super excited to see how the full version comes out.

4/1/15
Quick initial tasting of the Tired Hands fermented version, much cloudier, more tart, still lots of fruity pear and juicy fruit character.  Similar level of moderate bitterness but not as much hop aroma or taste. I'm guessing this is due to a combination of the yeast character covering some of it up and the vigorous ferment blowing a lot of hops out of the carboy that would have otherwise continued to provide their flavor.  Slightly cloudier in appearance but has about the same fullness of body despite being very highly attenuated.

Added 1.5 oz. of mosaic to the keg.  While the beer is tasty, it just seemed like it could use more hop character.

4/6/15
Quick tasting following a few days of keg hops: much danker and earthier with also some pine and citrus in the smell.  Like the aroma the taste is also more vegetal and earthy, not nearly as fruity as I had expected. Tartness also seems higher now than previously.  Still a tasty beer but just not on the same level as the extremely mouthwatering "brett saison" version.  I'm still holding out some hope that this can improve with more hop contact, but I doubt it will reach the amazing levels of the previous version.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Old Horse and Jockey Version 2

Less than 2 weeks ago my beloved grandmother passed away. A brave world traveler who lived through wartime bombings, moved half way across the globe as a young woman, and managed to visit all 50 states and all 7 continents, she helped inspire my desire for travel and my general curiosity about the world around me. The name Old Horse and Jockey comes from the, now long defunct, pub managed by my grandmother's grandfather (my great-great-grandfather) and for one year after his death her grandmother (my great-great-grandmother) in Bristol, England from 1921-1945. My grandmother spent much of her youth in and around this pub and always spoke of it with such fond memories and the Old Horse and Jockey Porter is brewed in loving memory of her, her hometown of Bristol, and the pub she called home.

From what I can tell the pub was owned, and would have served beer brewed by, The Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd. brewery. While the brewery had begun as a solely porter producing operation, by the 1920's the porter style had all but faded from existence in England and I can't tell whether the brewery (or one of their many acquisitions) made the style during this period. Nevertheless I decided to brew a somewhat classic porter recipe that includes brown malt and no black patent.

Sentimental stuff out of the way, this porter also means a lot to me as a brewer. I want to renew my passion for brewing and really evaluate my processes, ingredients, equipment, and techniques in a new light. This is the second version of the Old Horse and Jockey, and while the first (an extract brew) came out well, I'm hoping to really start to hone this recipe in.  The first step is taking more notes and more accurate notes, the second is putting more time and focus into the little details.  Instead of knowing that what I'm making will be beer, I want to know that what I'm making will be Good Beer. At a minimum if what I create isn't great then at least I will have solid explanations for why and can be sure that I continue to progress as a brewer.

For this batch I used 5 malts, all from either Crisp Malting or Bairds Malt, bought online, milled, from Morebeer. Below is a breakdown of the smell and flavor of each prior to being added to the mash:
  • 10 lbs Floor-Malted Maris Otter (Crisp): Smell: toast, grassy, hay-like. Taste: lightly toasty, grainy, grassy.
  • 1 lb. Carastan (Bairds): Smell: toffee, fresh baked bread, pastry dough. Taste: sweet, doughy
  • 1 lb. Brown (Crisp): Smell: pizza crust, just burnt toast.  Taste: fire cooked pizza crust
  • 1/2 lb. Chocolate (Bairds): Smell: herbal, woody, pinecone. Taste: burnt marshmallow, heavily burnt toast.
  • 1/2 lb. Crystal Malt 135/165 (Bairds): Smell: Plum, fresh fields (soil and floral elements), light toast, freshly baked dark bread. Taste: Slightly burnt caramel, cherry, bread crust, black tea.

I measured my water additions by weight adding 6g of chalk and 2 grams of gypsum to the mash water.  I hit my numbers pretty well mashing in with 4 gallons of 162 (Fahrenheit) strike water for an initial mash temp of 156 (target of 155). After a 1 hour mash rest I added ~1.5 gallons boiling water to raise to a mashout temp of 170. After the 15 minute mashout I ran off all the mash water and added the final 2 gallons of water (at 105 F) which was held for another 10 minutes prior to runoff.

For hops I used .75 oz of Target (8.9% AA) for 60 minutes, with WGV (5.3% AA) at 15 minutes and flame-out. The target has a earth, pine, grass, herbal, mint smell with the WGV having some similarities but also having a big juicy fruit character blending with the dank and earthy characters.                                                       

The finished wort appears to have a nice deep brown color. Cooled to 72 (about room temp) after 1.5 hours. The ice bath water was still cold but this method is just super ineffective and I need to find a better way. Added the 11g packet of yeast then moved the bucket to the keezer set at 60F (fortunately there was some empty space due to a number of kegs kicking recently and the only beer on tap is a bitter that can handle being served this warm). I should have waited to pitch the yeast until it had cooled a little further but on the positive side the yeast immediately took off puffing up with foam and throwing off yeasty smells, I hadn't brewed with dry yeast in a while and don't remember them taking off so quickly.  OG was 1.062, slightly beating my (low) efficiency expectations.

4/3/2015
Not too surprisingly this beer came out sweeter and less roasty than I would have liked.  A pound of brown malt just doesn't go very far, and the half pound of chocolate wasn't enough, while the 1.5 pounds of crystal malts was too much for an already moderately attenuative beer.  I decided to add half an ounce of bourbon soaked oak chips.  Next time I brew this recipe I plan to knock down the crystal malts by at least a quarter pound and increase the roast malts by at least half a pound.

Monday, March 23, 2015

5 Way Berliner (and My First Competition Ribbon)

Not strictly a "split batch" or formal experiment (or should I say ExBEERiment) I nonetheless wanted to taste test 5 variations on sour wheat beers side by side to see which method I liked the most.  While 3 of the beers were started at the same time and used identical worts, the other two were made earlier and one used a very different wort (the extra runnings from my Hefeweizen).  The breakdown of each beer is listed below.  Each batch was a little less than 1 gallon.
  1. "B" Hefeweizen 2nd Runnings w/ Lactobacillus Delbrueckii followed by British ale yeast
    • The 1st version was fermented on the Lacto Del for 3 days before being moved to secondary with the British ale yeast.
    • OG ~1.040, FG 1.003
  2. "C" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii only
    • Pitched on the lacto cake from version 1.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.002
  3. "X" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii, British ale yeast, and Brettanomyces (BKYeast C2)
    • Pitched with the final slurry from Version 1 with Brett added 5 days later.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.002
  4. "Y" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii and wild microbes (my Sunroom blend)
    • 1 pint pitched with my Sunroom blend (of wild microbes harvested from my Sunroom) before receiving a small amount of the Lacto slurry while being stepped up from an to 1 gallon.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.003
  5. "Z" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii and Brettanomyces (BKYeast C2)
    • Given a pitch from the Lacto slurry before being given Brett 5 days later
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.005

Appearance:
B- cloudiest, light pale color, short lived white head
C- darkest by far, longest lasting head, most carbonated, fairly clear
X- 2nd cloudiest, almost no head
Y- 3rd cloudiest, 2nd biggest head
Z- clearest, smallest head

Smell
B- fruity, light citrus,
C- medicinal off smelling, especially as it warms
X- lots of Brett funk, fruity citrus
Y- lightly fruity, vanilla, maybe a touch of butter, very interesting
Z- light fruit, berries, light Brett

Taste:
B- fruity and tart, sourness is moderately high
C- lightly medicinal, just lightly tart
X- funky, light to moderate sourness
Y- moderately sour, some definite diacetyl butteriness, a little fruit
Z- light grain, lightly tart, fairly restrained

Mouthfeel:
B-Super dry, lightly carbonated
C- medium body with medium carbonation
X- dry with low to medium carbonation
Y- a slightly slicker mouthfeel (diacetyl?) medium low carbonation
Z- medium low in body (the Brett and lacto don't seem to have attenuated as well as the lacto and yeast combos) medium carbonation

Overall:
B- my favorite of the bunch, moderately sour but with some nice banana, lemon, and wheat in the mix
C- my least favorite by far, just using the lactobacillus is clearly not an advisable option as it surprisingly is under sour and very medicinal
X- my second favorite, and the second most sour. Brett character is a little too high and sourness a little too low
Y- while it was cold this one was really interesting and enjoyable, as it warmed it seems that diacetyl is the most dominant character and the sourness isn't quite high enough
Z- an alright beer, this sort of feels like a bland saison with a light Brett touch. The sourness of the lactobacillus and Brett alone isn't high enough.

Thoughts:
This small test has made me think that lactobacillus followed by saccharomyces is the best option for quickly fermented sour beers. I'm a little disappointed in how buttery the wild fermented beer came out and learned to never do lacto only beers, but otherwise the results weren't overly surprising.

Updates
3/8/2015
Spoke to a brewer at Tired Hands in Ardmore Pennsylvania and was told that they use a very similar process as version "B" for their sours: lacto for 3 days followed by British ale yeast.

3/23/2015
Happy to say version "B" received a score of 35 and third place in the Sour Ales category at the DC Homebrewer's Club Cherry Blossom Competition.  Sure, it was only out of 6 beers in the category but for a beer not brewed to style and with no expectations it still did well enough to receive a ribbon.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Better Bitter

When I made my first Special/Best/Premium Bitter recipe I wanted something extremely classic: British Pale Ale malt, crystal malt, and a little bit of a roasted (in that case Victory) malt.  For the second iteration of this beer I decided to go in a pretty different and original direction.

While the base malt is still Maris Otter Pale ale malt and the hops are still primarily EKG's, I used an unconventional ingredient that I really like in Golden Naked Oats and an unconventional ingredient that I've really wanted to try in Crystal Rye.  The end beer I'm going for should have a smaller toffee/caramel character than a classic bitter but with a bit more of a dry/licorice character from the Crystal Rye and some creamy, subtle sweetness from the Naked Oats.

I thought about oaking a small part of this batch to make something completely original, until I discovered this recipe and was reminded that there's nothing new under the sun.
Surrounded by guitar pedal remnants on the Sunroom table.

3/11/15
Tasting notes:
Appearance- pours a pretty looking burnt orange color with substantial haziness. One inch bright white head fades quickly to a thin sticky layer.

Smell- peach, citrus, interesting grain character: lightly sharp, grainy, crusty. I start to pick up more rye/oat/pretzel(?) character over time and as I drink it.

Taste- like the nose the initial impression is fruit: mild stone fruit and some lightly citrusy notes. The grain and bitterness build after the swallow and with subsequent sips. Middle and finish is almost pretzel like, crusty, lightly toasty and sharp with the moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied and medium to light carbonation, pretty good for the style and for this beer.

Overall- well, I was certainly trying for something different here with using the caramel rye and a lot of Golden Naked Oats but I didn't get what I was expecting. This beer somehow comes off as salty and sharply grainy. While it doesn't taste just like a pretzel, there is a distinct similarity in the flavors that is hard to account for though I assume the combination of caramel rye, golden naked oats, and the water chemicals added to the mash (1 g CaCl 3 g gypsum) all contributed. Not a terrible beer, nor a very good one, just something pretty different but drinkable enough.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"To Style" Hefeweizen Recipe and Tasting

When I decided that I wanted to brew a "to-style" beer for this year's DC Homebrewers Cherry Blossom Competition I was tossing around a few different ideas: British Bitter, American Pale Ale (the category I entered last year), Berliner Weisse, or a Witbier.  I was going through my inventory of hops, spices, and washed yeast and going back and forth when I decided to ask my girlfriend Alyssa for a recommendation.  Her answer: make a Hefeweizen.

There are a few beers that I accredit my love for the craft to. Allagash White and Duvel were two of the first Craft/Import beers which truly opened my eyes to the range of beer flavors and styles when I had both on my 21st birthday.  St. Bernardus Abt. 12 made me say "Oh my God this is the best beer" a few years before the similar Trappist Westvleteren 12 overtook that place on my list. Then there is Weihenstaphaner Hefeweissbier.

While craft beer (and to some extent even the imported beer) industry is constantly changing, with some hot new thing getting all of the hype, this Hefeweizen, from the oldest continuously functioning brewery in the world, never goes out of style and currently holds the highest rating of any Hefeweizen style beer and the 138th overall position on Beer Advocate.  While at any time a new IPA or Russian stout could be better than the last greatest thing, this beer is simply perfection that all other Hefeweizens should attempt to follow.

Frankly, I don't remember when I had the beer for the first time.  My very first homebrew was a hefeweizen and used the Wyeast 3068 Weihenstaphen Weizen yeast strain.  That beer turned out remarkably well and I searched down the source of the famed yeast.  While I don't remember when or where it was, I do remember thinking: this is a perfect hefeweizen.  While I have only brewed one other Hefeweizen influenced beer (my tasty but unfortunately explodingly carbonated LimeWeizen) the hefeweizen style has been one of the most influential in my brewing experience.

As my tastes have changed over time, hefeweizen has faded from a favorite style to more of a situational/seasonal beer for me.  I haven't made a light, refreshing, low hopped wheat beer in a long time and I had much better success with my to-style weizen than my to style wit, so, very long story short: I went with Alyssa's choice.

In order to attempt an award winning hefeweizen (also known as Weissbeer) I went with Mino Choi's recipe featured on Chop and Brew.  I did decide however to not go with the traditional decoction (or in this case triple decoction) and instead did a step infusion and added a half pound of Vienna malt to up the malt character.  The recipe ended up being exceedingly simple:

6 lbs. Wheat Malt
4 lbs. 2-Row
.45 lbs. Vienna
1 oz. Tettnanger hops
WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast


2/6/2015
With the gravity down to a stable 1.008 for a week now I decided the beer was done.  Flavor is underwhelming and there seems to be a strange clumpiness to the yeast.  I decided to keg 3 gallons as a krystallweizen and bottle the rest.  Bottled portion received 1.30 oz. of sugar blended in 1 cup of filtered water, ended up with only a little more than a gallon of bottles (11), a little worried about over carbonation.
Bottled "hefe" version on the left and kegged "krystal" version on the right.

2/26/2015
Side by Side Tasting
Appearance-
Bottle: Cloudy, almost no head.  Looks like a hefeweizen except for the lack of carbonation.
Keg: Mostly clear but with some small specks floating throughout.  A much nicer head of a couple inches that fades to a thin layer.

Smell-
Bottle: Bananas, butterscotch, vanilla, light spice, apple.  Pretty classic hefeweizen aromas but fairly low on the clove.
Keg: Much cleaner/lighter without the proteins and yeast added. Banana, light grain, fairly clean.

Taste-
Bottle: Some light banana and spice followed by a light snappy tart apple character.
Taste: Cleaner and brighter than the bottled version.  Light banana and spice, but almost Pilsner like in its cleanness.

Mouthfeel-
Bottle: Moderate to high body with very low carbonation.  Hopefully the bottles continue to carb up some, I was actually worried it would be too high so I'm surprise it's so low at this point.
Keg: More moderate to light in body with a much higher, but still only medium, carbonation level. Seems to be better in both categories, though this doesn't save the low level of yeast derived character.

Overall-
Both: All around this is a fairly disappointing though not offensive attempt at the style.  The low fermentation temperatures (~68F) didn't produce enough yeast character.  The bottle conditioned version with all of the extra bottle dregs poured in definitely had a small increase in flavor, but also didn't have as nice of a carbonation or look.  Were I to make this again I would increase the fermentation temperature slightly and likely do a decoction.

Other Variants:
Second runnings were turned into a sour (Berliner Weisse? too high gravity and wheat content. Gose? no salt or coriander. So I don't know). WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii added for 3 days prior to pitching a British ale yeast.  Bottled with 0.60 oz of sugar for 9 bottles (and a half bottle that I drank). Wheat Extract wort pitched on top of straight Lacto and fermented fully, bottled with 0.40 oz of sugar for 7 bottles.  The beer fermented with both lacto and ale yeast was much tastier with a much stronger lemony sourness and a nice wheaty and malty backbone while the purely WLP 677 version is pretty mild and bland, not bad but nothing exciting, probably similar to Mike Tonsmeire's experience with a 100% lacto fermented beer with this same strain.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fruit Wine #1 Tasting

A- very clear for the most part but with a touch of sediment from the bottom of the bottle. Pale yellow in color, a few carbonation bubbles that disappear almost instantly. Certainly not "star bright" but looks good in a glass.

S-lots of sweet stone fruit: peach, apricot, nectarine. There is also some banana and some more  savory jammy/plum character.

T/M- dry and still, with a big, slightly sour/slightly sweet, peach sensation. In some ways less complex than the nose with an emphasis closer to straight peach flesh, but with a very nice balance and shift through the swallow from the up front sugars and on to the finishing sourness. No hotness or other off flavors, just mild to moderate peach characters.

O- I can't complain at all with how this one has turned out. Lots of stone fruit character, a touch of sweet, a touch of sour. How much of the sourness came from the fruit and how much came from other the additives is anyone's guess, but it certainly balanced well in the end. 

The wine tasted pretty hot a few months ago but has mellowed nicely and seems to have even more fruit character (less weird white wine-y) than it did when I first tasted it out of the bottle.

Nothing life changing here, but for someone who hasn't had many "fruit wines" I'm very pleased with the results.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

12B - Imperial Assassin (Imperial Licorice Stout) Tasting


A lot has changed since I brewed my first stout, a licorice forwards Imperial Russian Stout that saw half of the batch receive Jaegermeister soaked oak. The beer was brewed 3 years, almost to the day, before this tasting took place. While the beer tasted good relatively fresh, it has been a while since I have I have had one.  Having a bottle of Jaeger in the apartment and seeing an article in Draft magazine about beers that taste like cocktails, and especially the one which is aged in Absinthe barrels (Absinthe and Jaeger both have predominant Anise/Licorice flavor profiles and are among my favorite liquors/liqueurs) prompted me to want to try this one again.  I was lucky enough to find a bottle in my parents basement and gave it a go.

A- Deep dark and oily with lots of carbonation bubbles that support an everlasting 1 finger eggwhite foam.  Doesn't leave lacing as much as a full wall of bubbles.

S- Sweet, candy, oak, licorice, a touch of smoke.  Pretty good, though more sweet and sugary than most stouts.

T- Initial sweetness is swept aside by a moderate alcohol and licorice character that gives way to a long, creamy, oaky finish.  Honestly: it's awesome, similar to, but better than I remember with the sweet sugary character being nicely balanced by slight alcohol and licorice and finally the oak showing through.  Not enough roast character or bitterness to be a classic RIS, but delicious nonetheless.

M- Seems somewhat thin and snappy on the front, but the finish is long, smooth, and creamy.  The oak tannins could very well be what gives this sensation of a fuller body as the carbonation is clearly fairly high and the high alcohol makes the body feel relatively thin.

O- I would pay for this beer.  I would pay a lot for this beer.  This very well may have been the last bottle (I might have one more stashed away...) and that's somewhat sad since it seems to have just peaked with the alcohol barely present, and at over 9% ABV this one can definitely sneak up on you. While it is certainly on the very sweet side for an imperial stout, missing some of the chocolate and coffee character expected of any stout, and the licorice and Jaeger do not come through very strong, the overall impression is just a deliciously oaked dark brown ale.  One of, if not the single best beer I have ever brewed.   A very Good Beer indeed.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Imperial IPA Tasting

When I first racked my Imperial IPA to the keg I felt that, despite 6 oz. of dry hops and 6 oz. of hops divided between the late boil and the hop steep, the beer still underwhelmed in hop flavor so I decided to add 4 oz. of keg hops split between the 4 varieties (Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, and Nugget) already used in the brew.

When I next attempted to taste this beer about a week later I found that the keg (new to me but very much a "used" keg) was leaking gas and that the beer was only marginally carbonated, the results were so underwhelming that I decided not to review and wait until either I was able to fix the issue or could rack to an empty keg.  With my oatmeal stout finally kicking I had a spare keg that could hold pressure and racked from the old keg (and off of the keg hop) into the "new" keg that had housed the stout.  While one day in this keg isn't going to be enough to fix the carbonation issues, and the extended time spent in a semi-closed environment (both due to oxygen and the sheer amount of time) may have already ruined some of the hop aromatics of this beer, but I decided to do a tasting now that I could come back and re-review should this beer turn around.

A- Cloudy copper with a small but sticky white head.  This beer was not nearly as cloudy previously, but did seem to have some noticeable hop particles.  I probably should have added some gelatin while I was moving it to the new keg.

Not a good photo of a not very good beer.  Yes, my desk is very crowded right now.
S- Pine, caramel, dank, pineapple, all fairly light in presence for the style but not unappealing.

T- Sweet and fruity up front fades quickly to a moderately strong and resinous bitterness.  The sugar seems to have given both some rummy alcohol presence and burnt marshmallow characteristics while the hop character is low for the style and pretty underwhelming.  The alcohol is just short of burning, it certainly seems much more alcoholic than the 8.7% estimated ABV would imply.

M- Alcohol presence seems to make this one feel even thinner and less carbonated than it is.  Lack of carbonation certainly doesn't help.

O- Not sure what went so wrong with this one.  The beer is not terrible as a beer, but is extremely off the mark for an imperial IPA (or an IPA of any kind for that matter) with the bitterness being a touch too low, the alcohol a touch too strong, and the hop aromatics and flavor being extremely lacking. I'm pretty disappointed in how this one stands now, one of my lesser "hoppy" beers and certainly not matching up with the better than average results I've had recently across the board.

One factor that certainly contributed to the issues: the yeast extremely overshot the expected attenuation (85% vs. the average of 69%, giving an FG of 1.012 instead of the expected 1.024). I could see a few factors contributing to this including the very large pitch of yeast, the fact that the yeast was a second generation, and the large amount of very fermentable sugar, but it was still a bit surprising and certainly seems to have made this one more alcohol forward than expected or desired.