Friday, 20 September 2013

Homebrew Review - Longbow Ale

Brewed at the end of June, the recipe for this beer is here.

This was the beer I put together for my local homebrew group, where we all set out to brew what we like, but using a base of common ingredients. We had the choice of any English hops, but I chose to rely solely on 'Target', simply because it's often overlooked by homebrewers.

If you believe the marketing blurb, it's meant to be a harsh hop, best blended with others. I don't always believe what I read and thought this was an ideal opportunity to see what they bring to the table. A beer with Target all the way through, with hop additions at 60mins, 20mins, 1min, plus a few more thrown in for good measure as dry hops.

The beer pours a lovely deep amber/copper colour and is perfectly clear, with a tight head. Aroma is slightly herbal and vegetal. Not unpleasant, but not necessarily inviting, either.

Malt initially dominates the taste with hints of caramel and biscuit, but that is soon enveloped by the hops, which are a bit of a surprise. Yes they are assertive and maybe not for everyone, but there's a nice floral presence and even a faint hint of citrus and sherbet. Not in a big American way, but it's there.

A bitter finish then develops, but it's not harsh. I drank this bottle in the garden, basking in late September sunshine and it tasted as good as anything I'd brewed in a while. Yes, they need to be used carefully, but if this beer is anything to go by, Target are not the vicious, vindictive, bully of hops they are often portrayed to be.

The mouthfeel is soft and so very different to that earlier beer in which I used US05. The choice of WLP051 was a good one - the final gravity was 1.014 so there was plenty of residual sweetness in the beer, something that worked particularly well to help balance the assertive choice of hop.

So it maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I believe this is a good beer and I'd have no hesitation in brewing it again, maybe adjusting the malts a little, just to add a bit more backbone to the malt base.

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