Sunday, September 29, 2013

Brewers Gold Tasting

For as long as I have wanted to try a pint or two of Crouch Vale's Brewers Gold, I have also been equally hesitant to brew a clone recipe of it. For there has been so much talk about this beer that seemingly no home brew attempt could ever live up to the hype and fanfare that surrounds this two-time, Champion Beer of Britain. Especially when you look at the recipe and see how simple it is, it becomes painfully obvious that such a beer leaves no room for error. One malt, one hop, some yeast, and a lot of skill are required to get this one just right. Well, after many months of waiting, I finally got around to brewing the recipe, although with a few slight changes. Instead of using lager malt, I used Golden Promise and I went with two hop additions of Brewer Gold instead of one. With that said, while I can't call my version a clone, it should at least be a decent enough representation of what the real Brewers Gold tastes like. Here are the tasting notes...

Brewers Gold: English Golden Ale/Bitter

Appearance - Pours a very clear, pale gold and straw color with a small white head that has decent retention. No finings used with this one.

Aroma - Candied orange and lemon peel, black berries, and a slightly spicy-herbal hoppiness. Some faint tropical fruit character is evident and the malt is mostly clean and neutral. Little to no yeast esters. Surprisingly lager like.

Taste - Similar to aroma. Hops lead the way with their strange mix of American and UK flavors - it is both citrusy, herbal, spicy and earthy - but they don't jump out of the glass in the way they are reputed to. Some tropical fruit notes, but not nearly to the extent of most American/Aussie/NZ varieties. The malt character is very clean, with some soft biscuit flavor. Bitterness is firm and lingering and the yeast is clean and almost unremarkable, save for a touch of mineral character. Beer finishes as clean and crisp as anything I've brewed.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation makes for an easy drinking pint, mouthfeel is just about perfect.

Drinkability & Notes - Compared to what your average US craft beer geek blogs about, this is pretty boring stuff. It just doesn't have the punchy hop and malt character that people look for and you pretty much know you're drinking a 4.5% beer. On the other hand, I am very surprised how many layers of flavors there are in these Brewers Gold hops and there is something about the simplicity and cleanliness of the beer that immediately brings to mind the image of a hoppy pilsner. I also think I did a good job of brewing it, regardless of how interesting it tastes. Overall, I enjoy drinking this one and am glad I brewed it, although it isn't the beer of my dreams. That said, I'd still love to see what the real stuff would taste like on cask. I'd imagine it'd really shine...

Additional Thoughts:

First off, I will be brewing this one again. Eh... ok, something similar. I like the simplicity of the recipe (it is a testament to the "less is more" way of thinking) and these Brewers Gold hops are worth revisiting. However, I feel my version is missing something. This beer needs more malt or yeast character, or a mix of both. Or, just double the amount of hops.

The yeast. I am honestly befuddled on this one. I can't seem to get a good handle on what exactly this WLP022 yeast is up to. One moment it is yeasty-bready-minerally and the next it as clean and crisp and nice as anything I've used before. Maybe it has something to do the fact that I cultured this yeast from the bottom of a keg, after it had been sitting around at 42F for a month+. Maybe I should do the same thing with this keg? Regadless, I am happy how the yeast performed and the water profile with the low sulfate is nice change of pace too.

4.5% ABV, 28 IBU, Whitelabs 022 Essex Ale. Recipe Here

4 comments:

  1. Hi there, I've been reading your blog for a year or so.

    Question no. 1: Did you filter this one and if not, how long did you cold-crash?

    Question no. 2: When trying to perfect the english pint, is it all about a simple recipe? What about pitchrates etc.?

    Question no. 3: I've recently brewed a couple of beers with only Maris Otter and they've turned out a lot darker than yours. Why is that?
    I use BIAB and add about 4 grams of gypsum. Cold crash as well.

    Other than that, thanks a lot for enlightening the art of brewing brittish beer!

    Cheers from Gothenburg, Sweden

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Thanks for the comment.

      As per your questions; First, I did not filter or use finings on this beer. What I try to do to ensure clear beer is to make sure I get a really good cold break with chilling (I use a half tablet of whirlfloc) and cold crash the beer once it is done fermenting. That usually happens around day 14ish and I will then drop the temp down to around 36F or as low as I can get, and then let it settle for a few days to a week. I have found this has been hugely beneficial both for clarity and a flavor perspective. While there is nothing wrong with finings, I think some usage (gelatin in particular) can strip out flavor and/or change the way the beer tastes when used in high amounts. I am also lazy, so achieving clear beer without having to add finings is nice.

      Secondly, at least for the 'perfect' bitter recipe, I wholly believe simpler is better. By far. It has taken me a while to realize this, but a beer recipe is only about 15% of the whole picture. Fermentation control, yeast health, sanitation, water, mash PH, and not oxidizing your wort/beer are what we home brewers should really be worrying about. Once you become familiar with ingredients and know what you don't need, brewing beer becomes less about the recipe and more about the process. Simple beer is often better beer. It is also harder to get right.

      Lastly, when I first started all grain brewing, I boiled the heck out of my wort and saw dramatic increases in color. Turns out I was caramelizing the wort far beyond what is reasonable. I've since found a happy medium for getting a good boil without boiling off 25% of my wort. That may be the case with you, or it could have something do with your water chemistry. Also, if you are using brewing salts, you may want to look into only treating your mash/sparge water and not add salts to the boil, if you don't already do so.

      Cheers.

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  2. Hiya!

    Brewer's Gold is definitively in my top favourite hops. It's very mixed in profile and not too sharp in any of its main aromas: it has some British herbal/earthy, it has a hint of British blackcurrant, it has some American orange and grapefruit, it can give a hint of pine. It's a decent all-rounder, but it can give lots of juicy fruit in the late additions (I've made single hops with 15, steep and dry hop and they turn out great). I also like this one as an earlier addition as there's something "slightly wrong" about the way it bitters a beer, which is a bit like burnt orange peel... sometimes interesting when you want to give a tad more flavour to an old ale or a Belgian without noticeable hop aroma. Something definitively unnoble about it.

    If you're expecting a transcontinental Cascade or Citra you'll be disappointed, though! I find it's ok but not so easy to use when mixing in an aroma addition as it gets quite muddled with other hops with clear and distinctive profiles.

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  3. Simple beer is often better beer. It is also harder to get right.
    Pawn Jewellery

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