Monday, April 18, 2016

Maisonette 5.0 Tasting and scores

My 4th version of Maisonette was easily one of, if not the, best beers I've ever brewed. Super fruity and flavorful but also delicate and refreshing, it encompassed everything I looked for in my grisette.  I enjoyed it so much that I intended to enter it in a few competitions. Unfortunately, I also enjoyed it so much that the keg kicked while I was bottling from it and I ended up not being able to send it in. Having already paid entry fees and with nothing else drinkable on hand, I decided to do a speed batch version, saison yeast blend after a few days (which included French saison yeast and Brettanomyces) that I knew would get it to finishing gravity quick.

The beer didn't excite me nearly the same as the previous batch, it was drier, less fruity, and overall fairly toned down. I added keg hops, mainly Azacca, which gave it some interesting character at first but even that faded after a couple days. With no time left and the entries already paid for I decided to bottle a few up and send into some competitions.

I received my National Homebrew Competition first round results today, where I entered the beer as both a clone of Oxbow Grizacca and as a table saison. I had previously received my results from the DC Homebrewers' Cherry Blossom Festival. Let me start by saying the scores are all over the place. In the Clone beer category in NHC the beer received a 40 and advanced to a mini-BOS round. On the other hand, in the Saison category the beer received a 22 with the judges notes including the words: stinky, sweaty, mustiness, autolysis, meaty, sour, oxidation! The scores from the Cherry Blossom festival (entered as a clone beer) were much closer to the clone beer scores from NHC than the saison scores with a 35 overall and mostly positive notes.

There's 3 ways to read this: 1) Beer (or at least this beer) is super subjective and the judges had very different tastes. 2) The beer had characters that judges were willing to forgive for a clone beer of a hoppy grisette but not in a strict saison category. 3) The one that ended up in the saison category was a bad bottle. In the end I think it was likely a combination of these factors with 3 being a definite possibility as this was my first time bottling off a keg for competition.

I decided to do a tasting and my own score sheet to see where I see this beer.

Aroma 8/12
Acid, fruity hops, spicy yeast phenols, some light pale malt, grass, a little barnyard, an occasional touch of solvent.

Appearance 2/3
Very pale straw, small white head fades quickly, lots of small bubbles throughout, very clear. Very nice looking beer.

Flavor 14/20
Less pronounced fruitiness than the nose, light pepper, no noticeable barnyard or solvent as the nose, light acidity, light bitterness in balance with the malt

Mouthfeel 3/5
Very dry and thin, even for the style, moderate carbonation is refreshing

Overall Impression 6/10
A refreshing light drinker but lacking in the hop and saison characteristics and with a little bit of funkiness that is out of place. Not a bad beer.

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