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Beer Review #87 Yule Tide

The winter beer train keeps rolling in on Brewery Reviewery. This beer comes from Clipper City Brewing Company out of Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve had a number of beers from this brewery, in particular their Heavy Seas line, and I dig what they do. They make some solid beers that deliver on everything they promise. When I saw Yule Tide, I knew I had to taste it.

Yule Tide is a 10% Belgian Tripel. It is also part of Clipper City’s Heavy Seas line. The Heavy Seas line has the tag line, “big beers in small batches.” Excellent. This ale pours a dirty straw color and is slightly cloudy. It has a nice fluffy white head which you should expect to see on a Belgian Tripel. The nose has some heat to it, along with your typical Belgian spices. There are also some sweet and fruity aromas coming from the glass which added a nice bit of complexity to the nose.

On the first taste I really picked up on the Belgian spices. It had a nice sweetness upfront that helped balance the spicy end. There was some heat on the backend as well, which I enjoy in this style of beer. Overall I think this is a solid Belgian Tripel. It has a high alcohol percentage which helps warm you up on a cold winter’s night. Yule Tide is another solid beer from Clipper City Brewing Company and I highly suggest that you grab this beer or any of their other offerings. (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.

Beer Review #37 Mad Elf

While I may not be in PA anymore, that didn’t stop me from enjoying on of my favorite seasonal beers, Mad Elf. Made Elf is made by Tröegs Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. They only make it for two months of the year and it can even be tough to find when it is in production. Mad Elf is classified as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale and it is brewed with honey and cherries. It also rocks in at 11%, so that wonderful warming feeling is sure to help on a cold winter night. And if you noticed, or care, winter officially beings today, so our winter seasonals will be coming in on the site.

The beer pours a nice clear ruby color, with a thin head that fades pretty quickly. The head is fully white, with no off colors and is made of mostly tiny bubbles, with a few medium ones mixed in. The nose of the beer is decidedly Belgian. It smells a lot like a Tripel, with everything you would expect out of a Belgian Ale yeast. I did not pick up much of the honey notes from the nose, but the cherry component comes through very nicely. There is some malt in there is well, but minimal hops.

The taste is complex and rich. The Belgian yeast flavors are in there, and so are the cherries. The cherries are not as strong as the nose might suggest. The honey comes through a bit more in the taste. I can really only describe the flavor as rich and creamy. It finishes dry with a wonderful aftertaste. The esters from the yeast and a bit of the hop leave the pallet pleased. As the beer warms it gives way to some heat (alcohol), though you would never suspect that this beer is coming in at 11%.

Mad Elf is carbonated nicely and has a nice and full mouthfeel. I really enjoy this beer and it reminds me of home. I know last year at this time I enjoy more than my fair share of it to the point that the guy at the beer store would have me ready to check out before I even picked out my beer. Rarely do I do a repeat case of beer, but with seasonal beers I take a “get as much as I can” approach. I know some people will by two cases a year; one to drink and one to let sit for a year.

I have never had this beer when it was aged, but in general I am not a fan of aging beers. I feel like you get a fresher flavor and more accurate taste the newer a beer is. The one exception is when there are a lot of hot notes, as they tend to fade with age. Getting back on track, Mad Elf is a nice winter seasonal that will warm you. The 11% sneaks up on you and can throw you for a loop if you are not careful. But if you enjoy a Belgian beer with a more complex grouping of flavors, enjoy. It is going to be more sweet than a normal Belgian and also not as spicy, but a great balance overall. (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…)

Tripel update #3

The Tripel has come along nicely. Since the last update, the beer has finished fermenting full and is now sitting at 9% ABV. I am very pleased with that result. While the efficiency was terrible, you almost expect that in a big beer. As I said before I wish I would of made a session beer out of the excess sugars.

It is still sitting in the carboy waiting to be bottled. My only problem right now is having enough bottles. I refuse to buy bottles as they are expensive and the shipping is usually pretty bad. It also depresses me to think of all of the new beers I could of tried if I would of just bought a few six-packs. I might of considered buying them if there was a homebrew store in Lubbock, but that is not the case. The Dubbel got most of my collection of bottles becasue it finished first, but I am slowing adding back to the collection. Hopefully by next weekend I will have collected enough to bottle.

On a side note I tired one of the Dubbels’ and it wasn’t terrible. The carbonation is still lacking, but the taste is right there. With proper carbonation I think it could be an excellent Dubbel.