Thursday, November 5, 2015

Unlabeled Mystery Beer of Mystery

I found a couple of unlabeled bottles of homebrew in the basement so I decided to give one a shot. Turns out it's a bottle of Festivus Feats of Strength from a few years ago and it's certainly changed.

Appearance: A little bit of a pour explosion. It was at cellar temp but probably needed some time in the fridge to tame it. Dark brown with a thick off-white head. Cloudy, most likely stirred up sediment, and slightly transparent on the edges.

Aroma: Raisins about with some muted spice. Most of the spices have dissipated with time but I'm still getting some clove and cinnamon.

Flavor:  A bit astringent from the spices with a hint of a metallic taste. Huge candy sugar and molasses. Where did this come from?! Checking my notes from before suggests the raisin and fruit have become more of a molasses. Slightly smoky even. I'm thinking the metallic aftertaste and the molasses is suggestive of some oxidation, not surprising for such an old beer.

Mouthfeel: This one is still thin and has gotten more so with age. Definitely the week point. Maybe some wheat or oat would help.

Overall: Aged pretty well for a 5 year old beer. There's a lot of oxidation but not all bad, that molasses is quite nice. I've got one more bottle but I don't think I'll save it another year, it's past its prime for sure.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fresh Hop IPA 2015

As seems to be the case of late, I've been way to busy to do much homebrewing. I've been putting some quite ratings of beers I'm drinking on untappd (add me if you want) but I haven't had much to post here.
A few weeks ago, I brewed two batches, both all grain biab, in about 6 hours! I had some great help to get me through the day and everything went pretty smoothly. This post is about the fresh hop IPA for this year. I got a pretty good harvest off my Cascade so that went into this batch.
Brew day was August 30, 2015.


12lbs american pale malt
1.5lb flaked wheat
1lb crystal 20
1oz Centennial for 60 minutes
1oz Cascade for 30 minutes
Irish moss at 10 minutes
2oz Galaxy at flame out
8.8oz fresh Cascade dry hopped
1 packet of US-05

BIAB mash, 24qt at 155°F for 1 hour
Rinse with remaining water to about 7 gallons (a little under to prevent a boil over)
Boil was 1 hour and went into a bucket fermenter with the fresh hops for 3 weeks

OG: 1.068 (pretty close to my planned 1.061)
FG: 1.008
ABV: 6.78%

Bottled on September 20, 2015 with 100g priming sugar to 32 x 12oz since there was a lot of absorption in the boil and dry hops.

Tasting notes

I tasted a little less than a week after bottling so I didn't expect tons of carbonation but it was conditioning in the kitchen in September so it should be mostly there.

Appearance: Cloudy but there was a lot of sediment in this bottle so to be expected. Golden color and a thick off-white head that took a while to settle so there's certainly carbonation. I'm also tasting it warm so I figured there'd be a lot. The wheat definitely helped with retention.

Aroma: Spicy hops with a bit of stone fruit (the Galaxy maybe?) Sweet citrus and a bit of banana but very subtle. There's also a little paint thinner in the background that may have come from a slightly high fermentation (into the low to mid 70s). Barely noticeable though and certainly not off-putting.

Flavor: A bit of bready malt but not overstated. There's enough bitterness to remind you this is an IPA but it's not overly harsh; more Easter US, less Western. Come slight mango and orange but not a lot of citrus in the month.

Mouthfeel: A bit thick but not too bad. Seems to be from the wheat and should tame itself when colder. 

Finish: Hangs for a little on the middle of the tongue. Hope bitterness can still be sensed for quite some time.

Overall: Not as much of the fresh hop came through as I'd hoped. Maybe not as pungent a batch this time? Or perhaps I should have split between a short boil and the dry hop. It's a decent beer and despite the slightly hints of a warm fermentation with the banana and fusels it's tough to detect, I had to drink it warm and search them out. It'll be a good day to day drinker for the fall but it's not going to win any awards.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wine?! Sure, why not?

This is usually a place for me to discuss my homebrew batches, maybe review a particularly special beer, but I felt like writing up a post about a wine I had back in October. This was an icewine I picked up back in 2005 when I went up to Canada for my birthday. It was a particularly nice wine so it gets a spot in the blog.

D'Angelo Vineyards 2004 Vidal Icewine

Appearance: Deep reddish-golden color thinning to pale gold on the edges

Aroma: Sherry nose with a slight syrupy/honey sweetness and notes of cherries. A slight cooked cabbage aroma suggests a slight fault, perhaps too long on the lees? It's not strong enough to be off putting.

Taste: Quite sweet and syrupy as would be expected in an icewine but with a nice balance. A little grapey and a bit of alcohol heat.

Overall: A rather enjoyable wine. The mercaptan is definitely a flaw but a very minor one and I really had to strain to detect much. The oxidation was quite pronounced but the sherry quality it gave this wine was pleasant so it's hard to count that as a flaw. I wish I had another bottle I could have opened a few years about and a third to open in a couple more to see how this wine matured. I suspect I may have waited past it's peak but overall it was quite a lovely desert.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back in Berliner

I saved a few bottles of the Berlinergyle from a while back and cracked one today just for the heck of it. Overall, it's aged well and continued to develop over time. It certainly has not faded.

Appearance: Very light straw and a little cloudy with a thick head that fades quickly.

Aroma: Strong lactic sourness and slightly sweet. Cooked stone fruit and floral notes. It's sharp but not unpleasant.

Flavor: Not as strong as the aroma leads me to believe but still noticeable lemonade sourness. No detectable hops and almost no maltiness but there's a little graininess in the tail. Citrus fruit dominates with an occasional chemical note in the tail but I can't quite place it, maybe a little rubber so probably a few off phenols in there still.

Mouthfeel: Quite light but it does stick a little to the tongue. Lively carbonation dances on the tongue.

Finish: Medium finish which is intensely lemony especially on the lips and tongue.

Overall: Glad this has lasted. I might bring a bottle to a small homebrew contest next week. Probably won't appeal to most but I quite like it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bob's Best Bitter

Well, it's been quite a busy year, and that means not a lot of brewing. A contest at work spurred me into making a quick bitter. I'm rather happy with it too.

I cracked the first bottle after a week conditioning, here's the result.

Appearance: Light golden to amber. Quite clear despite a little yeast kicked up during the pour. Thin head falling quickly but I expect a little more with the roasted barley.

Aroma: Not much here but it's still a little under carbonated. Spicy hop aroma from the fuggles. A little breadiness and some caramel or vanilla warm sweetness. The phenols are probably from a high fermentation temperature but they are slight and add a nice subdued sweetness to the nose without overwhelming.

Flavor: Definitely some spicy and slightly resinous hop in the tail but the initial impression is caramel. I'm getting a little bit of a resin/chemical flavor that could be from the smoked malt although I suspect the caramel is the predominant contribution from that ingredient. Balance tips to the bitter side of the scale.

Mouthfeel: More full bodied than you'd expect from the low alcohol which is what I was going for with the grain bill. I nice creamy smoothness that reminds you a little of a dry Irish stout but it's more of a memory than a real impression. Carbonation is low, but again, it's only been conditioning for a week. I don't expect high carbonation but I suspect there will be a bit more in the coming weeks.

Finish: Fairly long linger on the hop which makes this a good beer to drink slowly. Coupled with the low alcohol, I expect I could finish 5 or 6 in a long session without any sign of a hangover the next

General Impression: I'm rather happy with this one. I'm a little rusty these days and I've been doing crazy beers to it's nice to have a easy to brew, east to drink beer for a change.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fresh Hop IPA 2013

After a few years of trying, I've finally managed to get a good hob yield so I brewed a fresh hop IPA with the hops. I'm not entirely sure what I used as I don't remember which plants survived but I believe this is mostly cascade with some fuggles. The recipe is simple, 12 lbs US 2-row, 1 lb 20L crystal, and 1 lb flaked wheat for some head retention. Mashed at about 151°F for just over an hour. I did a brew in a bag this time; about the largest I can handle and just enough for a 5 gal batch.
I boiled for an hour with 1.1 oz of Chinook pellets at 12.1% AA for bittering then at flame out I added some Irish moss to help with clarity and 8.7 oz of my fresh hops. Chilled and pitched US-05 then fermented for about 2 weeks. OG came in at 1.062, a hair under my expected 1.066 but good enough. I ended up with 4 gallons in the fermenter. One of these days I'll learn to boil with more because I always come up short but can't top up without dropping OG.

Of course, I couldn't let the extra hops go to waste so I had a nice pour over with a tasty craft pale ale from Widmer Brothers.

The beer has only been in bottles for about a week but it's been warm so I decided to give it a shot. Carbonation is a hair low as expected but pretty good overall.

A: Slightly cloudy cider colored. A small head that falls fairly quickly. I expect something larger with the wheat but it's still under carbonated so that might change in the weeks to come.

S: Spicy with a hint of citrus rind. There's a slightly sweet malt but not too much. The hops are clean and mellow, not overpowering.

T: A little grassy with the fresh hops with a mild astringency on the palette. There's some brightness like a slightly lemon flavored iced tea. Malt is caramel flavored and subdued. Mouthfeel is medium with a little sugary thickness from the 1.009 finish.

O: Not too bad. I wish I had caught the hops a few days earlier to cut back on the grass flavor. If I had, I could have used some more for a massive dry hop but they were too far gone by that point. I'm pretty pleased overall. There's enough body to hold up to the cool autumn nights without being heavy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More kefir experiments

Right now I'm mashing my next kefir experiment, a kefir and yeast fermented sweet stout. I'm also drinking the last of the kefir lambics so I figured I'd review.


Definitely getting some wheat in the nose along with a slight spiciness likely from the Saaz (even though it was well aged and boiled for a while). There's a little cooked fruit in the background, cherry-like. I might be getting a small amount of DMS like sweetness. Overall, the aroma is quite subdued.


While not super cold, I did refrigerate for and hour or so. Despite this, there was a huge pop when I cracked the top. I'm glad this was the end of the batch so the bottle fill was a little low so there was no mess.
A thin white head with large bubbles rapidly dissipates but this isn't surprising for a funky/sour beer.
Deep golden color, almost brassy with a slight haze.


A bit harsh and biting on the front end like a rye ale. There's a little solvent flavor when I aerate, perhaps some fusels were created during the long bottle conditioning. Quite dry with minimal hop flavor. It's also a bit vegetal but not overly so. So real sourness, just hints of it in the background. Quite disappointing.


Despite the pop when I opened it, the carbonation isn't particularly high. The wheat is boosting the body leaving it with a medium body that hangs on your palette just long enough.


Still disappointed there's really no sour but I hold out hopes for the sweet stout. That said, this isn't a terrible beer. If I had another six pack, I'd finish it off but it's not a re-brew batch.