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Tasting Impressions #79: Rambler’s Ruin Bitter

November 23, 2014 Comments off

This 1054° ESB got as high as 5.4 per cent abv.

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Aroma is malty and fruity. mouth feel is reassuringly full. Nice tingling hop presence, Herkules seems very clean as a bittering hop and Cascade aroma addition is spot on – providing that lift in the end but still barely keeping the beer “English”. It’s on the brink, just keeping away from the colonies.

This beer totally redeems my faith in brewing a cracking beer after the disasters of late.

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Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting Impressions #77: Arse over Tit

November 18, 2014 Comments off

So at barely 7 per cent abv not a barley wine. Which in itself is not that important to me, the beer goes off-site for safekeeping until my 50th birthday anyway. I had a glass at bottling and the sample showed promise but also indicated a long time ahead for it to mature. What interests me mostly at the moment is the level of carbonation. Let’s crack one open, shall we?

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A small hiss on the opening, no head but when I move the glass in a circular motion there is some lacing and I can clearly see microscopic bubbles rising up to the surface. So very gentle carbonation. Beer is not far from being bright, some murkiness still exists and the colour is reddish russet mahogany.

Aroma is sweet boozy malt. Some dried Christmas fruits like prunes and raisins. Taste is sweet, almost sickly, like bittered dried sugar-coated cherries. Bittering is quite harsh, coarse, and gets in a way of potential fortified wine character. The alcohol is evident in the taste too and together with the hops need to mellow out. Feels heavy too, none of that Belgian drinkability.

The carbonation level is absolutely bang on. Interesting that the bubbles seem to start their upward journey about half an inch below the surface, not from the bottom. And although they are very small they are very dense and almost nitro-like.

All this beer now needs is a quiet and dark place of constant cellar temperature – and time to lose those rough edges.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting impressions #78: Green Wild Hop Ale

November 10, 2014 Comments off

This one finished at 1013° and 5.1 per cent abv.

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Aroma is sweetish grass with red berries similar to Kohatu and Jade hops so might be due to the yeast. Not much bitterness up front, I’d estimate 18 IBUs or thereabouts, that would make the AA% around 1.2 or less. So very smooth, slightly sweet and lacking the hop bite as expected. I’ve brewed a generic beer. Technically sound but lacking character. It’s OK if one likes beers bland. No disturbing vegetal or cabbage flavours.

Not worth the effort trying to nurture these unknown and old Finnish country hop varieties, easier just to buy Hallertau and the like and get more flavour and aroma out of the low alphas.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Bottling of Brew #77: Barley Wine

October 27, 2014 Comments off

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I bottled #77 today having kept it 31 days in the fermentor. Second and last time I used Mangrove Jack’s Burton Union M79 dry yeast. First brew with this yeast the abv hiked to 6.4 per cent from 5.5 per cent in the bottles resulting in dangerous gushers, beer being Duvel-like dry and thin (but packing a punch so not a total disaster). This time the beer dropped from 1094° to a mere 1040° (~7 per cent abv) and that was it. I roused it with a sanitised spoon with gay abandon. Panicking I even pitched Nottingham into it. No joy.

I carbonated the 20 litre batch with slightly less than 1/2 litre of gyle (speisen) which shouldn’t give me more than 1.5 volumes CO2. This beer is mostly for keeping, to be aged and matured, and I don’t want any explosions in case Burton Union decides to wake up again in the bottles.

As usual, I saved the last pint from the fermentor to be sampled. Colour is mahogany and only murky in this sample, otherwise it went into the bottles pin bright. Aroma is sweet and malty. Taste is sweet and the alcohol burn tingles the throat (I have twice checked the gravity with the hydrometer and the figures confirmed what I got with my refractometer. I even checked it just now again, numbers seem solid). There is also a hop bite and the mouth feel is reassuringly full, as expected. Quite promising really, this could still be a good beer.

First proper bottles to be opened at Christmas. Hopefully the beer will gently condition by then. But barley wine it ain’t.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting Impressions #74: DIPA

October 6, 2014 Comments off

The last bottle of my DIPA at 8 per cent abv has dropped bright and has a beautiful coppery mahogany colour.

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Aroma is fruity in a plummy way and resiny. Taste is more resin, quite piney and the bitterness has toned down and mellowed but still managing to have a good amount of bite. Mouth feel is solid.

Some other tasting impressions on the beer here, here and here. I have to say I cant find anything tropical or citrussy and next time I’ll brew a DIPA I’ll try to find some hops to balance the resiny pine with grapefruit. I will also dry-hop more aggressively. Now that should make it about perfect. Overall, a very balanced DIPA and some lessons for for future learned. I might actually get used to brewing higher gravity beers – same amount of beer, double the buzz…you do the math.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting Impressions #76: Keyworth Early Pale Ale

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Final tasting of not quite single hop Keyworth Early Pale Ale, at 4.3 per cent abv.

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Has a better head than #75. Aroma is minty. Perhaps there is some citrus in the taste, or I might be imagining it. Beer is quite cool so let’s wait a bit. Yes, there could be lemon actually, but Keyworth Early hop seems very generic, very clean, not overly anything really. I like it. Makes a very clean and refreshing beer, good for golden ales in the summer, say. Perhaps some red berries like in NZ Kohatu. Raspberry.

For next spring and summer if the supply is there I’ll get a few packets in to replace some other English hops, obviously the hop is experimental as I understand it so might not be possible.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting Impressions #75: Pale Ale 1050°

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Final tasting of pale ale 1050°, at 4.7 per cent abv.

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Earlier bottles of this were quite bright, now there seems to be some (chill?) haze. Citrus aroma has developed and is zingy and refreshing. Good body and quite malty but still dry. Generic citrus sans grapefruit now showing in the flavour too. Technically faultless but would have needed double the amount of Cascade and Columbus in the end in order to really shine without entering APA territory. Good solid effort nevertheless.

Categories: Tasting my brew