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.