Follow-up Tasting: Brown Porter (Beer #20)

September 25, 2011
I has been about three weeks since I posted the “first tasting” notes of Jess’s Brown Porter. I’ve noticed that the beer has been getting better since then, so I figured I should take some new tasting notes.

Appearance
Very dark brown with reddish hues around the edges. Very clear. Creamy light-tan head that lasts. The head cascades when first poured from the tap. It’s a pretty beer to look at.

Aroma
Medium-roast coffee, cocoa, caramel, toffee, and generic “roasted malt.” Very pleasant smelling. No hop character.

Flavor
Coffee, cocoa, roasted malt, toffee, caramel, hazelnut, and a slight hint of fruity ester. Balanced bitterness from the hops & dark malts. Slight earthy hop character. Perhaps a hint of a smoky phenol. Flavor fades quickly, leading way to a dry, thin finish.

Mouthfeel
Thin body that is improved somewhat by the carbonation. Slight astringency on the finish.

Overall Impression
Not a bad porter overall. It suffers from lack of body, a bit of one-dimensionality, and a hint of astringency on the finish. It is very drinkable, but could be better. The good news is we’re going through this keg pretty quickly, so a re-brew shouldn’t be too far off. For the next brew we’ll change two things. First, we’ll adjust mash water chemistry using brewing salts. Our tap water isn’t cut out for brewing dark beers. Second, we’ll be sure the wort is a couple of degrees below the target fermentation temperature before we pitch the yeast. For this beer we pitched in the mid-seventies then put the carboy in the chamber at 67. Fermentation took off too quickly and over-attenuated somewhat. I’d like to have a sweeter, fuller-bodied beer and I think we can achieve that without increasing mash temperature.

Even though we’re not totally satisfied with how this beer turned out, we’ll be shipping it off to a competition to get the judges’ notes. We just want to see if our take on the beer jibes with what the judges think.

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First Tasting: APA (beer #21)

September 25, 2011

I kegged the APA about ten days ago and have been stealing tastes (read: full glasses) of it ever since it got to be fully carbonated. Today I felt it was time to take some “first tasting” notes.

Appearance
Golden orange in color. Hazy. 3/8″ off-white head that dissipates to a ring around the glass. Good lacing as the beer disappears from the glass.

Aroma
Toasty, biscuity malt. Pineapple hop aroma with light hints of pine and citrus. A strong hint of earthy washed-rind cheese.

Flavor
Very nice balance of malt & hop character. The malt is bready and the hops are piney, resinous, citrusey, with a strong pineapple quality. Hop bitterness is very nicely balanced. It’s not bitter like an IPA, but it’s bitter enough to please IPA drinkers. The washed-rind cheese is present in the flavor, too.

Mouthfeel
Medium-full bodied with good carbonation. Pleasant. Very slight alcoholic warmth on the finish.

Overall Impression
This is a good example of an American Pale Ale. It comes in at 5.9% abv, but that alcohol is well hidden. It does not taste alcoholic and it will sneak up on you if you drink a pint or two. I’ll gladly drink several pints of it.

I plan to fill some bottles from the keg to enter into competition. I am happy with this beer, so I would love to get some judges’ notes on it. I will wait a couple of weeks to see if it gets any clearer before I bottle any of it.

The best part of this tasting… The lunch that went with the rest of the glass:

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Follow-up Tasting: Belgian Dubbel (Beer #18)

September 25, 2011

We entered a couple of beers into the Son of Brewzilla competition that was put on yesterday by the Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers in Cleveland. We didn’t have anything fresh to enter; we just sent in some stuff we brewed earlier in the year to get some judging notes on it. We haven’t received the notes yet, but we can see our scores when we log in to the competition web site. Jess’s Double got a 19/50. (Ouch!) Now, I know this beer was decent when it was fresh. I was thinking it was a mid-30’s beer. To see a 19 left me confused. Did the bottles get mixed up? Did I happen to send a bad bottle, even though none of the ones we’ve opened have been bad? I’ll have to wait for the notes to arrive, but I decided to pour one to taste to see if maybe the beer is no longer good. Today’s tasting notes are below.

Appearance
Dark amber to light brown with ruby hues. Crystal clear. (The glass is covered in condensation in the pic above.) 1/4″ off-white head that doesnt’ last long.

Aroma
Weak aroma overall. Raisins, plums, “Belgian” spice. A bit metallic. No hop character. Some sherry-like notes.

Flavor
Thin and dry, solventy. Raisin and plum are overwhelmed by alcoholic heat. Not much Belgian character. A touch of cardboard.

Mouthfeel
Very carbonated. There’s an acidic bite on the tongue from the carbonation. Thin bodied with a short, dry finish. A touch of astringency on the finish.

Overall Impression
Overall, this just is not a good beer. It’s lacking in flavor, aroma, and Belgian character. The main thing you taste is alcohol.

This beer fell off the cliff rather quickly since we last drank some. We took a couple of bottles to the T.R.A.S.H. meeting in late July, and they were good then. I’m not sure what happened since then. The beer has been in the fridge the whole time. I guess this is a good lesson in how beer can go bad over time.

I am looking forward to getting the judges’ notes on this beer to see if they jibe with what I’ve just posted here. We need to re-brew this beer sometime soon to see if we can get it right and if we can build a beer that stands up to some aging. This beer has oxidized qualities to it. I recall it was racked into a secondary fermenter because I needed to free up a primary for another batch or some wine or something. I bet that extra racking introduced a lot of oxygen to the beer that shortened its lifespan.

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