Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Bad Beer Tasting

Remember that box of dusty, old beer I came across not too long ago? Well, today I have two new 'special' tastings for your beery entertainment, a three year old mild that I found laying on the floor of my friends refrigerator and a low gravity pale ale that is nearing two years of age. Both beers should make for an interesting tasting, as it not often that I have old 1.030 and 1.040 O.G beers sitting around. Also, against my better judgment, I even managed to get my non-beer drinking friend Chris to sit in on the tastings. I figured it would be good to have an impartial test subject taster provide some honest commentary. And maybe I can teach my friend a thing or two about beer. Here are our notes:

08' Low Gravity Pale Ale:

AppearancePours a very clear, honey-golden color with a huge lively head and a constant stream of bubbles. Chris remarks, "it looks good, I am assuming this is the head," pointing to the white foam rising from his glass. And I wonder why it takes him three years to drink the beer I give him!? 

AromaWe both agree on lemon, citrus, honey, grapefruit, and lemon-meringue pie. 

Taste - I note hay, high bitterness, light lemon, and slight hoppiness. Chris thinks it tastes like "beer" and says the aftertaste is like "wall paper paste." I ask him to explain and he eventually says he tastes citrus fruit and comments that the beer is very bitter.

Mouthfeel  In an attempt to educate my friend a little more about tasting beer, I start a long talk about what must have been boring gibberish. For when I asked what he thought of the beer's mouthfeel, I get this response: "liquidy, thicker than water, tingly, and the bubbles get trapped in my fillings." Facepalm. Why do I even try... 

Drinkability & NotesWe agree that while it looks great in the glass, it tastes merely 'ok.' Chris provides a fleeting moment of beer intelligence when he says it is too bitter and needs more sweetness. Aha, maybe he is learning something! Chris gives the beer a 4/10 and I gave it a 3/10. 

2007/08 Mild : 

Appearance – Dark, amberish, reddish, light coffee. Pencil head of foam. Yeasty. 

Beer drinker in training
Aroma – I note a slight yeasty funk, medium roast, coffee, and dark crystal malt. Chris takes a long sniff and practically turns green. He mutters something about a cat litter box and we quickly agree the beer has a faint dirty-diaper quality; possible infection or yeast autolysis?

Taste – To our surprise it's not half bad. Chris thinks it tastes like coffee grounds and is soon lost in a nostalgic "Folger's Coffee" moment, sans jingle, thankfully. I note chocolate, roast, caramel, tart-fruitiness, and a bit of liquorice. No hops, not bitter, and slightly oxidized. 

Mouthfeel – Thin, dry, and no malt sweetness.

Drinkability & Notes – Chris says it didn't taste half bad, though wouldn't drink another one. I was surprised he managed to finish his glass. We both gave this one a score of 3/10. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brew Day: English ESB w/ Invert No. 2

More beer... just what I need. I am pretty much running out of kegs, bottles, casks, and places to put the stuff, but alas I keep on brewing. I blame the homebrew store. It seems every time I walk through the door they have some new yeast strain I have never tried and/or some very fresh examples of my favorites that lure me with their siren songs of fresh beer and brewdays. This week I picked up a vial of WLP 009 Australian Ale, WY1968, WY1318, and two fresh packs of WY1882 - Thames Valley II. I figured I would put the London ESB yeast to good use and make up a batch of its namesake. The recipe is pretty simple, though I did use some No. 2 Invert that I had made a while ago. If you have never used homemade invert syrup in a batch of English bitter, you are really missing out.

Hops are up!
Old Pretender : English ESB

Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.75
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 12.0
Anticipated IBU: 40
Efficiency: 80%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar
------------ 
81.5%  - 5.5 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter (TF)
7.4%  - 0.5 lbs. Crystal 120L
11.1%  - 0.75lbs. Invert No. 2   

Hops
------
1.50 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 32 IBU
0.50 oz. UK Fuggles @ 15 min for 5.0 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 5 min for 3.0 IBU
0.50 oz. UK Fuggles @ flameout 
0.50 oz. EKG @ flameout

Yeast: Wyeast 1968 London ESB
Mash 154F for 75 min
Brewed 15 May

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brew Day: American Wheat

I might be cutting it close, but I have about 22 days to brew, bottle, and condition three more beers before the State Fair entries are due. Normally I would try to give myself more time, though a late spring and lots of work leave little time for brewing. Today I'll be brewing a hoppy American Wheat made with pilsner malt, white wheat malt, and hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe for aroma; as for the pilsner malt, I was all out of regular pale malt and didn't want to use Maris Otter. I've never made this beer before, though I hope it turns out to be an easy drinking, hoppy wheat beer for summer.


No Name Summer Beer: American Wheat

Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.00
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 25
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain/Sugar
------------ 
55.6%  - 5.0 lbs. Pilsner Malt 
44.4%  - 4.0 lbs. White Wheat Malt

Hops
------
1.00 oz. US Goldings @ 60 min for 19 IBU
0.50 oz. Amarillo @ 10 min for 5.4 IBU
1.00 oz. Simcoe @ flameout
1.00 oz. Amarillo @ flameout 
0.75 oz. Simcoe @ Dry Hop 
0.75 oz. Amarillo @ Dry Hop

Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale
Mash 154F for 75 min
Brewed 8 May

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brew Day: Ordinary Bitter

Hard to believe it's May already. It seemed like it was just yesterday that the snow was still on the ground and April was just around the corner. For those of us in the Northeast, spring has been coming along pretty slowly, bringing with it lots of rain and cold nights. The spring flowers have just started to bloom and the leaves are finally budding; the rivers are overflowing their banks and the water is too muddy to do any productive fishing. Yet, while the warmer weather takes its time moving North, it is time to get back in the brewing saddle. Entries for the State Fair competition are due at the end of the month and if I plan to enter four beers this year - an ordinary bitter, special bitter, mild, and American wheat - I better get a'brewing. This ordinary bitter is just a standard, tasty recipe. I've used this recipe in the past to good effect though I will be trying out a new yeast, White Labs 022 Essex ale.

The geese are back on the river...
Creek Bitter: Ordinary Bitter

Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.15
Anticipated OG: 1.038
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 12.0
Anticipated IBU: 34.5
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar
------------
89.5% - 5.5 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter (TF)
8.0%   - 0.5 lbs. Crystal 120L
2.5%  - 0.70 lbs. Amber Malt

Hops
------
1.00 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 22 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 10 min for 8.5 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 5 min for 4.0 IBU
1.00 oz. EKG @ flameout 

Yeast: White Labs 022 Essex Ale
Mash 154F for 75 min
Brewed 3 May