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Beer Review #41 Winter Welcome Ale

I have a few more winter seasonal beers to get though but today’s review comes all the way from Yorkshire, England. It is Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. I’ve had a few other Samuel Smith beers before and I have liked every single one. I think their Oatmeal Stout should be the standard of the style because it is just so perfect. Samuel Smith’s is also Yorkshire’s oldest brewery and dates back to 1758.

The beer pours a nice amber, copper color with a large fluffy head that quickly fades to a thin lace. It is perfectly clear and looks more the part of a winter beer than my last review did. The nose on the beer is full of a lot of fruity esters. In particular grape and dried fruit comes to mind. There is a bit of malt sweetness in there, but the fruit is the most prevalent smell. I didn’t get much in the way of hops on the nose though.

On the first sip, it tasted like an English pub ale with more than normal fruity esters. The fruit really comes through on the back-end of the beer. There was very limited malt flavor throughout the drink. There was also a bit of the hop bite on the end but it also finishes very crisp. The beer is extremely dry, perhaps one of the most dry beers that I have ever had. And the aftertaste is mostly biscuit and toasty flavors. It is an amazingly complex beer that really allows you to sample each layer.

This beer would be excellent for anyone who loves English ales. It isn’t hoppy at all and is packed with flavor. The flavors are not overwhelming, they are layered and a bit hidden. The more you drink it, the more things you find to taste. This ale comes in at 6% ABV. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you like complex beers or English ales, this one is for you. (more…)

My homebrew, a year in review

I didn’t do as much homebrewing as I would of liked to do this year. In total I did40 gallons worth of homebrew. That’s eight five gallon batches. Below is a list of the beers that I brewed up this year.

  • Imperial Porter
  • SB Birthday Beer (Amber wheat)
  • Irish Red
  • Belgian Dubbel
  • Belgian Tripel
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Winter Warmer
  • Amber IPA

Some of those beers turned out better than others. I have to say that my darker beers are my better ones. That is probably I enjoy roasty flavors and it is easier to hide other flavors with them. My Irish Red and SB Birthday beer did not come out very well at all. The Irish Red was a victim of improper hopping. I switched the hops and the bittering component came out way to strong and dry. The SB Birthday beer was the victim of sitting in a fermenter for too long and also was in the sun for a bit of it. They were both drinkable, but not up to a decent standard.

My Belgian beer experiments went pretty good. The Dubbel needed a few more darker malts and I would change the yeast in it to something that would give off a bit more plum and dry fruit esters. Overall it tasted  fine, it just needed to be a bit richer tasting. The Tripel was darn good. The malts and the yeast worked perfectly. It was well balanced and a good representation of a Tripel. There were a few too many hot alcohols in it which was caused by a higher than wanted fermentation temperature.

The Pumpkin Ale was a complete disaster. The stuck sparge  left a ton of extra sugars and I didn’t think it out with extra water. With a lower than normal wort level and a high sugar level the beer ended up being 15% and too highly spiced. I can see it being a really good beer, it just needed to be brewed correctly. It is still drinkable, but edges on not being so.

My Winter Warmer is still bottle conditioning but it tastes wonderful. It is a bit more bitter than I wanted and next time I would take out some more Black Patent malt, as it gives off a ton of flavor. I called the beer a Winter Warmer, but in reality it is a stout. I left the option open to put spices in it, but I did not want to since the beer before it, the pumpkin ale, had more spice than I knew what to do it. All you need to do to make it a true Winter Warmer is add in a few spices and bam, you have it.

The Amber IPA is getting bottled this week, so we will see how that turns out. My real all star for this brew year was the Imperial Porter. It came in a 8% and had everything you could want in a porter. It was well balanced and you could not even detect an alcohol on the beer. I really like it, I wish I had more.

This next brew year I’m not sure what I want to make. I think next on my list is a simple American Amber. After that I have not idea. I am still looking into the colonial beer, but that is a ways off. We will see what this year brings, but I am excited as I am really honing in on my efficiency and turning out beer very close to what I want them to taste like.

09-28-04

Sam Adams Boston Ale Beer Review

09-28-04Sam Adams is one of the first craft brewers to really make a big success out of well made beers. Heck they are so successful that they even run TV ads, something that most, if not all other, craft brewers stay away from or don’t have the money to spend on. Sam does make some great brews with their largest success being the Boston Lager.

When I saw the Boston Ale in the six pack store last week I was a bit surprised, but I figured I would give it a shot and see how it was. It is part of their Brewmaster’s Collection and I have had good and not so good samples of that “line” of their beers. Anyway, the beer pours a light amber and appears to be slightly darker than the Boston Lager. By now you guessed that there are going to be a lot of comparisons to the Boston Lager right now and you would be correct in guessing that. There is a slightly off white head with large and small bubbles. The beer is perfectly clear.

09-28-02The smell on the nose is a bit more complex than what I was expecting. There is the malty sweetness, a bit of a rye smell (no idea where that came from), and some biscuit. I didn’t really pick up any hops or esters in it. I would expect some slight esters becasue of the ale yeast verses the lager yeast. Both can be done with or without esters however.

On my first taste I felt that the beer floated on the tongue and then crashed on the back of my pallet. There is some biscuit taste with some toasty flavors in there as well. The malt sweetness is mostly caramel and there is a bit of hop bitterness on the back. The malt and hop balance it tilted towards the malt side, but in a good way.

Boston Ale is a fully bodied beer that is extremely drinkable. I find that a lot of Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company) beers represent a style of beer that might to toned down just a bit, but are very drinkable and a decent example of the style they represent. For a newcomer to craft beer, their beers might open a door to a new style that they have not tried before. Boston Ale was just wonderful. I’ve actually gone back out and purchased two more six packs becasue I (and the wife) enjoy it so much. One of our later six packs must of been a bit older becasue it was a bit duller in taste and had some metallic undertones. I still really enjoyed to fresh version of this beer and I think most people would also enjoy it. (more…)

Belgian Tripel bottling

09-25-05I finally got around to bottling the Belgian Tripel that I brewed back in the first week in August. It was a pretty standard bottling day and I got it all done in just under an hour. The Belgian Dubbel that I bottled a few weeks ago still has yet to fully carbonate. I blame the carbonation tabs that I used. I decided to give them another shot (mainly because I didn’t have any other options).

The carbonation tabs say to use five for high carbonation, four for normal, and three for low. On the Dubbel I used four to try and stretch it so that I could use it on this batch as well. I went with five this time and I thought about even going six. Tripel’s are supposed to be highly carbonated and I am worried that five was just not enough. I 09-25-01guess we will see in a few weeks when they should be ready.

I tasted a bit of the beer just to see if the correct flavors were in it. Man was it good. As a homebrewer you learn to love room temperature, zero carbonation beer. It had the Belgian spice with a good malty backbone and just the right amount of heat. If this carbonates correctly I think it will be a winner. Judging from my past experiences with tasting beforehand, this could be my most favorite homebrew to date. That is certainly excited but I’m hoping the pumpkin ale blows it out of the water. I did buy all of the ingredients and made sure I got some dried malt extract (DME) as well so that I can carbonate it correctly.  I will give a tasting of the Tripel once it fully carbonates (hopefully) and I need to give a review of the Dubbel. (more…)

Pumpkin Ale Recipe

09-18-01So I’ve been fooling around with my beer programs and reading a lot about Pumpkin beer recipes and I think I have come up with what I want for this beer. There is a large variety of grain all in there to accomplish something a bit different and there are going to be a bunch of adjuncts, mainly the pumpkin and the spices. Anyway here it goes:

  • 7.0 lbs Maris Otter
  • 2.0 lbs Munich Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 Biscuit Malt
  • 1.0 lb Rice Hulls
  • 2 lbs Light Brown Sugar
  • 4-5 lbs pureed pumpkin
  • 1.0 oz Hallertau (60 mins)
  • 1.0 oz Hallertau (10 mins)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice

Now how is that for an ingredient list. I plan on mashing the grains at 152 ºF for 60 minutes. I’ve never used rice hulls before, but the 4-5 pounds of pumpkin puree will make them necessary. I’ll mash out and add the brown sugar to the first runnings while the second runnings are going on. A 60 minute boil will follow with the hop additions mentioned above. The last 2 minutes I will add the spices and hop for the best. The yeast I’m still deciding on but I want it to be as clean as possible but also eat all of those sugars. I’m shooting for a gravity of 1.072 but who knows where it will end up with the variations in brown sugar and the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Puree

I’ve never added a puree to a mash before as my last pumpkin beer (Pilgrim Porter) was an extract and the pumpkin was put right into the boil. To make the pumpkin puree I will be cutting down the pumpkins and cooking them until they are soft to jump start their conversion. From there I will remove the meat and place it into a blender. Then I will blend the meat until it reaches a puree consistency, think baby food. After that it will be going into the fridge over night because I don’t want to have a crazy long brew day.

Last year when I cooked the pumpkin I put pumpkin pie spice on the meat before cooking to try and get some of those flavors in there. Where I think I failed was that those spices had their flavors boiled right out of them. There was some of the flavor left, but nothing close to the amount of spice I used. This year the spices will be added with 2 minutes left in the boil to try and maximize their flavor. I’ll get a more detailed version of this with pictures as soon as I do it.