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Beer Review #285 Sam Adams Imperial Stout

04-16-03Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) released their Imperial Series of beers when I was in college. I tried a few on draft at the time and liked most of them. I’m still not sold on the Double Bock but that’s a review for a different time. I finally got around to buying all four of them again for another round of tasting. In the past I have reviewed their Imperial White, and today I’m going to knock out their Imperial Stout.

Sam Adams Imperial Stout pours a black (real shocked /sarcasm) with a thin, tan head that quickly fades. This beer comes in at 9.2% so head retention is not to be expected. The nose is deeply roasty with a “dark sweetness.” You can tell it is a big, thick beer from the smell. There is a little heat along with a good helping of anise rising out of this one. Finally I got just a hint of some aged hop bitterness at the end.

On the first taste you get a good smash of caramel and toffee. It then moves to a bitter roasty flavor, like a really strong coffee that has been cooled down. The anise is in there as well along with just a bit of heat. I didn’t notice any hops when tasting that one as the roasty flavors took away any ability to taste hops.

This beer is chewy, thick, and wonderful. It is a really nice Imperial Stout. The balance is great and the flavor components match and compliment each other. This would be a great benchmark for what an Imperial Stout (non-hoppy of course) should be. This is a perfect sipper in my house. (more…)

Coffee Amber Ale Recipe

I’ve been in the mood to test my homebrewing skills a creativity a bit and I decided that a coffee flavored beer that is amber in color was an excellent challenge. Most coffee beers are stouts or porters, which makes the color addition from coffee unnoticeable. What I wanted to do is make something similar to Peak Organic’s Espresso Amber Ale. It’s an excellent beer and captures the espresso flavor and keeps the color not black.

My homebrew store recently started carrying coffee malt so I decided to give it a try. It comes in at 175 °L, which is pretty dark. After purchasing a one pound bag of it I did find that it has some coffee aroma, but not enough. My wife is a big coffee drinker and grinds her own beans. This lead me to take 4oz. of cold water and 10 whole coffee beans. I put the beans in the water and left them in the water for a week. I dumped the results before I realized that I should grab a picture, but the color addition from the whole bean was not very high. However, the aroma and taste were very noticeable. Better yet, the aroma and flavor additions happened after a day or so, and the color didn’t change until day three.

I then structured a recipe around what I wanted to the malt to taste like. I knew that I wanted a toasty, roasty flavor. I also needed some sweetness to balance out the harsh roasted flavors. I had some crystal malts on hand to give some sweetness and light color additions as well as half a pound of Carabrown to give a toasted flavor. Below is what I came up with.

  • 10 lbs. 2-row
  • 1/2 lb. Carabrown (60 °L)
  • 1/2 lb. Coffee malt
  • 1/4 lb. Crystal 80
  • 1/2 lb. Light brown sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 60 mins
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 15 mins

The final beer is expected to have the following specs:

  • OG: 1.059
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 5.83%
  • IBUs: 36.5
  • SRM: 17.37

According to Wikipedia and a number of other sources that I checked amber ales can fall in anywhere between 15-33 SRM. I went on the lighter side so that any color addition from the whole beans would still keep the beer in the proper range.

I plan on fermenting the beer in the primary for two weeks and then move it over to a secondary. Two days before kegging I will add a handful of whole coffee beans to the secondary that were sanitized by sitting in whiskey or vodka for a day. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. It’s a very non-typical beer for me as I generally don’t like adding extras to a beer. I’ve made one coffee beer before, a stout, and it turned out wonderfully. I hoping that I will like this one just as much and that I learn some things from it. It’s always fun to test yourself and take a bit of a chance.

Beer Review #201 Demo

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The final beer of my Magic Hat Brewing Company sample pack is Demo. Demo is labeled as a Black IPA and comes in at 6% ABV. According to Magic Hat, Demo is, “a deliciously dark lick of an India Pale Ale. It’s medley of roasted malts and heady hops will have your senses dancing to the beat of a different I.P.A.” Black IPAs and/or Cascadian Dark Ale and/or Cascadian IPAs have been increasing in popularity in the past few years. I believe that they even added a category to the beer styles to fit it. I have not tired many of these beers so I’m still a bit fuzzy on what a good example of this style is.

Demo pours a black color (shocker) and has a light tan head to go with it. The nose is nice and roasty. There are some hints of chocolate and deep caramels in there as well. Surprisingly I didn’t much if any hops on the nose of this beer. For something labeled as IPA, I would have expected there to be more hop aroma. It could be my lack of knowledge of the style, but I was hoping for more hops on the nose.

On my first taste I really loved the solid roasty flavor to this beer. There are some hints of chocolate and coffee, but mainly just a robust roasty flavor. The roastiness is not sharp, but smooth and round. The hops come into the picture on the back half of this beer. They mix very nicely with the roast and provide a good contrast of flavors. I was hoping for some stronger hops, but what was there worked well.

Of the three beers that Magic Hat sent me this is probably my favorite. It is super drinkable and it only comes in at 6% ABV. While I was expecting much more in the way of hops, the lack of a strong hop flavor allowed the malt to shine. If you are a hop head this beer is probably going to disappoint you, but if you like balanced beers (like I do) this one should be right up your alley. (more…)