Thursday, April 24, 2014

#19b - Sour Red Tasting

I brewed this sour brown beer (probably actually closer to a Flanders red style-wise) in the summer of 2012 and, well, wow time flies when you're brewing beers. This version received additional Brett compared to the straight version of 19 and was also bulk aged a bit longer.

Appearance- medium brown/garnet in color with no trace of a head and a few carbonation bubbles coming up. Extremely clear after all this time.

Smell- chocolate, raspberry and vinegar predominate. The chocolate malty character comes through surprisingly strong but the acetic acids slight sting dominates.

Taste/Mouthfeel- on the tongue this one feels tingly, and tastes fairly fruity (blackberry, raspberry) with a surprisingly high malt characteristic that encompasses toast and shortbread. Finish is fairly dry with a sharp back of the mouth burn followed by lingering vinegar and, again, toasted bread.

Overall- this beer is very interesting. At times I find it to be way too sour, but tonight I felt the fruit and malt characters shined and kept it enjoyable. Definitely a beer only sour lovers could get into, and even then the high acetic levels might put some of them off. Not nearly as bright, funky or complex as my favorite sours but interesting nonetheless.

The BKYeast C2 added to this half might be partially responsible for the more balanced beer compared to my other tastings of #19 as the Brett's fruit flavors help to balance the extreme tartness. It would be interesting to do a side by side taste test but with only a handful of bottles of each left, and the extremely sour character they each display, that might not be a great idea.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

#34b - Sage Honey Golden Strong Ale Tasting

I've been really enjoying this modified version of my #34 - Tripel which used a sage tincture and an extra 12 oz. of honey on 2.5 gallons of beer.  A beautiful day in Arlington in the middle of a brew session seems like a nice time to do an official tasting.

A- Medium copper, hazy, with a very nice bright white 1 finger head of small bubbles that's sustained by constant, but not overly strong, carbonation bubbles.

S- Floral, herbal, grainy, honey sweet, fruity, yeasty.  Golden grahams cereal, fresh bread, pizza (from both the herbal sage and the yeastyness), bubble gum.  The sage and honey come on stronger as it warms, giving off more of the sweet, savory, herbal and floral characteristics.

T- Again, a melange of primarily sweet flavors with some savory notes sprinkled in.  Up front it is crisp and fruity with honey and sage showing in the middle and a finish that is medium dry, off-sweet, slightly bitter and moderately warming from the high alcohol.  The sage seems a bit more noticeable with every sip, though always in a refreshing and not overpowering way.

M- Carbonation is right where I would like, medium/medium-high, with a fairly dry body despite the high gravity and moderately sweet taste.

O- Of all the Belgians I recently brewed this may turn out to be the best.  The alcohol is warming but only just so.  While far off from a true Duvel style Belgian Golden Strong Ale it certainly has a similar ability to sneak in the alcohol.  The honey and sage play together very nicely with the underlying beer and I would have to say that the sage tincture was very well done.  This seems like a great beer for a beautiful, warm, spring day like today.

Monday, April 7, 2014

#37 - Alsatian Identity Saison

Due to some late shipping and multiple reworkings of plans during my 3 Trappist series of brews, I found myself in possession of 10 pounds of milled Belgian pilsner which needed to be used ASAP.  Having a wide range of hops on hand and a few yeast strains left the door fairly wide open but in the end I decided to go for one of my favorite styles with a classic saison. I chose to primarily use hops grown in Alsace, especially the new Aramis variety, with a malt bill that uses the Belgian pils, some leftovers in Golden Naked Oats and Special B (barely over an ounce) and a pound of flaked rye I picked up on a whim. Unlike many of my Saisons I decided to keep to European continental hops: Alsatian Aramis and Strisselspalt from Alsace, France and Opal from nearby Germany. I am hoping this will give a very classic hop profile and I did not add any spices (though part of the batch may receive a tincture dosing or secondary with Brett depending on how it progresses). For the yeast, I used the blend from my American Saison which started with just Wyeast Belgian Saison but was helped along with the French Saison strain.  It will be interesting to see how this house saison blend plays out, but both strains give consistently great brews and I don't see any reason this one should be any different.

Bottled with 2 oz. of sugar.  Got distracted dealing with a number of issues and completely forgot to split off any of the batch with spices/Brettanomyces.  Surprisingly subtle flavor at bottling, hopefully carbonation makes it pop a little more.

Accidentally opened one of these last night.  While the carbonation isn't there yet I think its safe to call it a thorough disappointment.  The beer seems under attenuated leading to a strange syrupy sweetness that's only not cloying due to a moderate bitterness.  There also doesn't seem to be any characters of the saison yeast, leaving this one a bland, vaguely sweet mess. I forgot to add the white pepper to this one as well which may have helped balance the sweet and fruity notes.  Hopefully some carbonation will give it a little more life but I don't have high hopes and might give up on my yeast blend.

Time has certainly brought the carbonation on this one to a very nice high level.  The beer is alright but a bit too banana and ginger flavored. The off flavors likely come fom under pitching and not thoroughly washing my yeast from my ginger saison. I don't think the saison yeast blend itself is a failure but the execution was flawed. Will post a more complete tasting when possible.