Friday, 12 April 2013

Tasting Notes: Son of Gnarly

Gnalry's son is a
pale boy...
As a brewer you sometimes have to pay the piper - that is, suffer a bad batch to make up for all the good ones. Given that my brewing plans for this beer fell flat on their face - too little gravity extracted, far too many hops given the gravity, combined with the most unusual fermentation I've ever seen (oily yeast slicks that were unsinkable), I was expecting that this was a batch for the piper; fit only to fertilize my wife's petunias.

At the end of the day the beer started at 1.024, ended at 1.004, and going into the keg had a cloudiness that milk would have had trouble matching. It had all the signs of a dumper.

But its not the pipers day - in place of what I had assumed would be hop soup I've ended up with a rather pleasant beer. Light, bold hop flavour, and the palest colour you can imagine. Its not summer, but this is a perfect summer beer. Even more surprisingly, its almost lager-like in nature. I'm not sure how that happened - English malt, honey, English hops, an American ale yeast, and a touch of Hallertauer apparently equals a lager-like beer. If I had to describe the flavour, it would be like a light bodied grolsch. Yes, as in the Dutch lager.

Yes, I'm confused too...

Full review below the fold.


Aroma:
One word - Hallertauer. This beer smells like Hallertauer. No malt, no yeast, just the clean "European" aroma of Hallertauer hops.

Appearance:
I believe 'straw' is the formal name for the colour of this beer; an SRM that couldn't be over 5. Despite the cloudiness when it went in the keg, it is crystal clear. The beer pours with a stark white head which quickly settles into a thin layer of long-lasting foam that laves traces of Belgian lace down the sides of the glass.

Flavour: Given the hop-bursting style hop schedule, the flavour of this beer is of no surprise. The bitterness is bold, but thanks to the hop bursting, is very smooth as well. On top of the hop bitterness is a strong hop flavour; a mix of vegetable & piney hop flavours. Despite the honey in the batch, no honey flavour is apparent. Likewise, the typical flavours of malt are quite mild and can be hard to pick out among the strong hop flavours. Despite the strong hoppiness, there is little lingering aftertaste.

Mouthfeel:
This beer is thin, as one would expect given the low 1.024 and 1.004 starting/ending gravity. It is effervescent and light. The high hop rate leaves a bit of a dry feeling in the mouth at the end of the sip.

Overall:
For a beer I had assumed would be a failure, this beer is very good. Its lightness & low alcohol would be great for a summer afternoon on the deck, while the strong hop flavour and bitterness keep it from being a boring light lager. I'm not sure I would brew this exact beer again, but I will be trying another parti gyle brew later this year.

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