Saturday, 22 February 2014

Homebrew Review - Blind Tiger

Life is too short for mediocre beer. And if you're brewing ten gallon batches and get it badly wrong, that's a shedload of mediocre beer to get through.

I'm not sure when I last ditched a batch, but this particular beer was a disaster from start to finish. It started with the recipe. A good idea, badly executed.

The idea of a low gravity easy-drinker with a nice hop combo appealed, but the idea of pairing carahell malt with mild ale malt to create a bit more body than you might expect from a lightweight beer, was a bad one. The sickly sweet malts completely dominate this beer and the hops fail to punch their way through.

I overshot on the gravity too, so it wasn't the small beer I was hoping for and the combination of malts made for a much darker beer than the software predicted, so it wasn't as pale as anticipated either.

To add insult to injury, I also took the beer off the yeast too early. Pressure of work made me use a window of opportunity that was far too early, so there's some diacetyl to add into the mix too. Lovely.

So all in all, a pretty poor effort, both in design and execution. I'm ditching all the bottles and will make a decision on the other half of the batch (which is kegged) in the next couple of days. I'm pondering whether to chuck in a load of dry hops to the keg, to see if this makes it more a amenable brew.

Anyhow, I've brewed again since revisiting a recipe that won me a bronze at the National Homebrew Competition a few years back. I'm not sure why I've taken so long to re-brew this one, but at least I can be hopeful of some decent beer to drink in a few week's time.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Homebrew Review - Best Bitter

This beer was brewed back in November

Best Bitter? 

To be honest, it's another disappointing beer. Yes, it looks the part, but in all other aspects it's very unexceptional.

It pours nice and bright, is a decent colour, although the white head doesn't hang around very long. There's not much on the nose, a few earthy and spicy notes, but nothing particularly inviting.

The taste is slightly better, hints of citrus, but the hops are largely underwhelming. To be fair, it was only meant to be an easy drinking ordinary bitter and neither hops nor malts dominate. I guess in that respect, you could say it was nicely balanced, but I was hoping for a bit more from the Simcoe hops.

Mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side. My brewday notes show I mashed on the low side, so I ought not to be surprised. Other than that, I can't detect any obvious brewing faults. It's limitations are purely due to design.

Perhaps if I was drinking this with the sun on my back during a summer heatwave, my impressions would be more favourable. As it is, conditions are grey and wet, much as they have been for the last six to eight weeks. My mood is sombre and the beer is distinctly average. At best.


Friday, 31 January 2014

Homebrew Review - RIP

I brewed this beer at the beginning of December and it's one I've done in some guise or another for several years.

I'm not sure what style you would class it as, but I brew it as my winter ale. But I don't want to give the impression it's verging on old ale or barley wine territory. It's not. I brew it as a traditional English ale, that's a tad stronger and a shade darker than my usual fare.

Bottle Conditioned RIP


So how did it turn out? The appearance is exactly what I was aiming for. A really deep copper colour with a malty nose, although it maybe a little top-heavy on the roasted malt aroma, which is surprising as there's not very much of it in there. There's also a slight hint of diacetyl.

Unfortunately, the roasted malts carry through into the flavour, as it's a shade more acidic than it should be, verging on sour. I hadn't picked up on the slight sourness until the beer was sampled at my local homebrew group, showing the usefulness of meeting with like-minded souls. The handful of roasted barley I used had been in my malt store for quite some time and I'm wondering if this might have contributed to the flavours?

I did take the beer off the yeast quite early too, which probably accounts for the diacetyl. It's a shame, as underneath, there's a nice beer. It looks the part, is nicely carbonated and had I used fresh ingredients and not rushed the fermentation, it could have been a belter. As it is though, I'll drink it, but it's not really one for sharing.

Recipe here.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Brewday - Blind Tiger 16/01/2014

Having spent much of the Christmas and New Year period drinking my HGH Pale Ale (5.5%), Porter (5.7%) and the recently brewed RIP (5.8%), I'm in the mood for something lighter and more refreshing.

I do have some of my Best Bitter left (a review of that one and the RIP to follow soon), but for now, I fancy brewing a low gravity beer, with plenty of flavour.

I've decided on American hops, with a simple grist made up from Mild Malt and Carahell. Although the starting gravity will be very low, I'm hoping the body from the sweet malts, combined with the citrus punch from the hops, will give the impression of a beer punching above its weight.

The recipe currently looks like this and I've pencilled in the brewday for a week today (providing my bad back allows).

Coincidentlaly, home brewing on Jan 16th will be quite fitting, for I believe it was on that date back in 1920 that Prohibition came into effect in the US. And with a 'Blind Pig' being a term for a low class drinking establishment that illegally sold alcohol, what better name for my first beer of 2014?

EDIT:
The answer to that question is 'Blind Tiger'. I've decided to change the name of this brew, so as not to confuse it with the beer brewed by Russian River BC in the US. Thanks Mark.


Blind Tiger 
Standard/Ordinary Bitter

Type: All GrainDate: 16 Jan 2014
Batch Size (fermenter): 45.00 lBrewer: Mark
Boil Size: 52.43 lAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 minEquipment: Elite 45L Brew
End of Boil Volume 48.88 lBrewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 45.00 lEst Mash Efficiency 73.1 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two StageTaste Rating(out of 50): 
Taste Notes:
Ingredients
Ingredients
AmtNameType#%/IBU
7500.00 gMild Malt (7.9 EBC)Grain190.4 %
800.00 gCarahell Malt (25.0 EBC)Grain29.6 %
20.00 gSimcoe [14.00 %] - Boil 60.0 minHop318.9 IBUs
20.00 gCascade [7.50 %] - Boil 20.0 minHop45.6 IBUs
1.00 ItemsWhirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)Fining5-
20.00 gWillamette [6.30 %] - Boil 7.0 minHop62.1 IBUs
2.0 pkgUS West Coast Yeast (Mangrove Jack's #M44)Yeast7-
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.039 SGMeasured Original Gravity: 
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SGMeasured Final Gravity: 
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 3.9 %Actual Alcohol by Vol: 
Bitterness: 26.6 IBUs
Est Color: 11.3 EBC