Monday, October 14, 2013
Chapter 5: The First Taste
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Welcome to another chapter in our Homebrewing Adventure as I present “Chapter 5: The First Taste”. Yes, it’s that time… after making the wort, then two weeks primary fermentation, then two weeks secondary fermentation, then two more week fermenting in the bottles… our first homebrew batch of Irish Red Ale was FINALLY ready for the taste test.
Red Ale Tasting
We chilled two bottles, clean glasses, poured… and then kinda looked at our creation for a while…
As you can see, it was a little cloudier than red ales and really the vast majority of beers that you’ll see at the market. We didn’t use any techniques to really clean it up like Irish Moss or anything… so this is what beer typically looks like without a little clarity control.
So then… we tasted… and our initial taste left us wondering a little bit. See, the night before we had tried Rogue Ales’ “Santa’s Private Reserve” which is a Red Double IPA… so basically all the flavor of our brew times about three. Think going from milk chocolate to 72% cacao dark chocolate. However, that was the night before… and this was the next afternoon. It just didn’t have that “kick” that we were expecting with that first judgmental sip. We’ve also been spoiled by trying a few fantastic red ales in the weeks leading up to this… you know, for research. It was still good… but just not great.
As we pondered why this was different from what we were expecting, we chatted about it of course being a malt extract kit that we used as opposed to mashing the grains ourselves… possible contamination points along the way, which there really wasn’t any… adjustments to the recipe that may improve the lack of a lasting flavor, which was probably the real criticism of it as a whole… and then as we were doing it, the chilled beer warmed up a little bit… and we found ourselves still drinking… and long story short, it actually tasted a little better.
I know what you’re thinking… of course beer tastes better the more you have… but come on, this was a few sips. In summation of our Red Ale, it seems that it would be best served not as an icy-chilled beer for immediate consumption since… basically just about any beer will taste tolerable when it’s just icy booze going down the gullet (why Old Milwaukee is still in business). Perhaps home brew is best appreciated cold, not quite frosty… but sipped at a enjoyable pace. There are still some tweaks that we’d like to make to future batches obviously to meet our personal tastes… but for a first batch, and with the basic brew kit, I think it’s pretty fantastic.
Batch: Irish Red Ale (malt extract kit)
Brew dates: Sep/Oct 2013
Alcohol content: about 5%
Malt: 6 pds Malt syrup
Specialty Grains: 1/2 pd Belgian Caramel Pils, 1/4 pd Briess Special Roast, 1/8 pd Belgian Biscuit & English Chocolate Malt
Hops: 1 oz Willamette (60 mins) & 1 oz US Goldings (30 mins)
Yeast: Dry – Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast
Initial Taste: October 12, 2013 (6 weeks)
Initial Reactions: Not as potent as expected with initial test at cold temperatures, no real finish taste. However, as it settled towards room temperature, flavors started to come out more. Finish taste still lacking compared to other red ales that I’ve tried. Overall, very satisfied for a first batch.
Possible Experiments: For next batch, adjust the malts and/or hops towards a little more of a lasting taste.
Hopefully you’ll all get to swing by & try it out yourselves. We’d love your feedback.
Quick Root Beer Tasting
Our next taste test was for our “quick method” Root Beer that we made last Sunday and placed in two separate two-liter plastic bottles. We tried the first bottle on Thursday night, then again throughout the weekend. With the initial test, you could see some of the yeasts & sugars on the bottom of the bottle… but that’s perfectly normal. The root beer goes into the bottle basically uncarbonated… then with the yeast eating the sugars, it creates the carbonation (CO2) and you can feel it when you squeeze the bottle after a few days. The bi-product of this is the “satisfied” yeasts falling towards the bottom of the bottle. A little sugar falls to the bottom as well if it doesn’t dissolve fully, but not too much. For a over a pound being in there, you see about the amount that you would kind of dust off a counter top to the floor… but only if you wanted ants for some reason. Behold…
As for the taste, it was pretty good root beer. Of course, each bottle has over a pound of sugar in it so it’s hard to screw up… but it had a very distinct root beer flavor like it was brewed at A&W or something. Not the best that I’ve tried… but definitely very good. I’d say like a B if I were grading it.
Batch: Root Beer (quick method, root beer extract)
Brew dates: Early Oct 2013
Alcohol content: (trace?)
Malt: Cane Sugar
Hops: More Sugar?
Yeast: Basic Brewer's Yeast
Initial Taste: October 10, 2013 (4 days)
Initial Reactions: Pretty good root beer
Possible Experiments: Considering brown sugar for next batch, possibly vanilla accent
We have another bottle that we’ll be trying over the week as well, so a little more aged… and then we have the “bottled method” of Root Beer that we will be trying this weekend so that we can contrast & compare. Again, you’re welcome to join in…
Pumpkin Ale Bottling
Sunday night, Dizzy & I bottled our batch of Pumpkin Ale that has been fermenting for four weeks. When we were transporting this ale from the carboy to the bottling bucket, once again the kitchen was filled with the scent of pumpkin pie. We seriously cannot wait to try this batch next week. Here are some pictures…
Mmm... doesn't that look delicious?
Just over two cases per 5 gallon brew...
"Duuuuh I'm helpiiiing..." Not my best picture
Well, that’ll do it for this chapter… but join us next week when we bottle our Hefeweizen (still has another week for primary fermentation) and then we decide what to do for our next batch. Seriously, we haven’t even decided yet… but we have a few options at our immediate disposal… and they’re all pretty exciting. Have a great weekend everybody!!!