Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Tasting Notes: Watery Tart

So the Watery Tart is brewed, kegged and truth be told, is nearly gone.  This was my first experiment with home-grown hops, included some homemade invert sugar, and was a great success.

The beer pours with a course head which subsides over a few minutes to a thin layer of foam and some lace stuck to the sides of the glass. The beer has an aroma of malt and goldings hops, with hints of fruitiness which I would expect from the Thames Valley ale yeast. The beer is dark-straw to light-amber in colour and remarkably clear.

The flavour is milder than I had expected - a slight malt/nut flavour from the Marris Otter malt is present, some fruity esters from the yeast provide a nice counter-point to the nuttiness, and all of that is build on a foundation of mild hop flavour and bitterness. The bitterness is actually much milder than I had expected - at 40 IBU I was expecting a more pronounced bitterness. The lower apparent bitterness is likely due to two things - the IBUs in my home-grown hops (used for the flavour and aroma additions) was likely on the low side, meaning the ~6 IBUs that I was expecting from the flavour addition was likely missing. Secondly, the gravity of this beer was much higher than expected - reducing both extraction efficiency of the hops as well as reducing the BU:GU ratio from 0.7 to 0.6. Despite the lower bitterness, the beer is well balanced and very easy drinking. This may be the ideal "conversion" beer for people who "don't like craft/home brews".

The body of the beer is quite thin - but given the high OG and low FG (1.065 & 1.006) this is of no surprise. The high attenuation and starting gravity give this beer one hell of a kick - 7.8% by volume. The light body of the beer hides the alcohol, but standing up after a few pints is a bit of a challenge. It certainty doesn't help that this beer has a soft and mild finish - it is mild, nutty, shortly lingering and absent of bitterness or astringency. It tastes like beer, goes down like water, and will lay you on your ass if you're not careful!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

First Tasting: Gnarly Roots Barley Wine

It has been 227 days (7 months and 13 days) since I brewed my Gnarly Roots Barley Wine.  This beer - a creation from the mind of brewing legend Charlie Papazian - is an American-style barleywine with a twist.  On the surface the recipe is a classic US-style barley wine - 100IBU of bitterness, a SG of 1.100, and fermented with a clean US-style ale yeast (Wyeast 1056).  The twist is that it is secondaried with Brettanomyces lambicus and Brettanomyces bruxellensis.  The additions of these "wild" yeasts should create an earthly and fruity flavour profile that mimics that which was common in pre-20th century English strong ales.

I kegged the beer today, with the intent of transferring it to bottles in 3 weeks.  Once bottled this beer will be cellared and brought out for special occasions - if done judiciously, I should be enjoying this beer for years to come.  It turns out I had ~ 200ml of beer that wouldn't fit into the keg, so I put it into a mason jar and stored it in the fridge for a few hours until I had the time to do a proper tasting.  The beer is still a little young for tasting, but I'm not one to give up  a chance to sneak a peak.  Full review is below the fold.