Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Homebrew Review - Homegrown Hop 2013

I brewed this beer in mid-September with my new harvest of Bramling Cross hops.

Last year's incarnation was good, but unfortunately, the 2013 brew hasn't turned out quite so well, even allowing for the fact that I'm particularly hard on my beers.

Homegrown Hop 2013 
I was out of carahell malt when I came to brew, so substituted that with caragold this time around. It produced a paler beer, probably the colour I was looking for initially, but at the expense of some body. I definitely preferred the rounder flavour the German malt provided last year.

I also increased my estimate of the alpha. This was a good move as last year's beer was possibly a shade too bitter and this year's is nicely balanced. The disappointment comes with the flavour and aroma.

Hop aroma is earthy, spicy, but definitely muted. Not the assertive, fruitiness, I was expecting.

The flavour is not too bad and was better received by my local homebrew group than it was by me. To be fair, it is nicely balanced, has more fruit to it than you get on the nose, but overall the beer is a shade thin. I think reverting to last year's recipe with the carahell malt would help in this respect.

It's nicely clear and has a bright white head which dissipates about half way through. But although it looks the part, because of the lack of body and aroma, the beer is ultimately underwhelming.

Only I know what I was setting out to achieve, which is why I'm probably a harsher critic than most and I think the problem lies with my hop picking. Worried about them 'going over' I harvested a couple of weeks earlier this year and while the hops looked great, they probably lacked some of that 'paperiness' that you need to ensure the Lupulin is at its peak.

Having said all of that, the beer is perfectly palatable and I'll have no qualms about sharing this among friends. I've bottled the whole batch, rather than splitting half into a keg, as I get more requests for handouts of this brew, than any other.

I'll keep trying, though. I'll revert to the carahell malt and pick the hops a shade later and hopefully this time next year I'll be singing its praises.

Edit: If you're a hop geek, there's an article and some great pictures from this year's British hop harvest HERE

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