Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tasting Notes: The Speedy Cyclists

This beer has been on tap for about 2 months now, and over that time it's gone through multiple identities. When it was young it was bright, yeasty, but a little bit hot, then that gave way to a muddled astringent mess. But after about a month in the keg things started to come together, the astringency has faded and the Nelson Sauvin aromas and flavor are starting to shine more. When I was creating the recipe for this beer I wanted Nelson Sauvin to be at the forefront, and ultimately I achieved that goal, albeit being a little rough around the edges..

As I documented in the brewday post, I had to make some last minute decisions as my local shop was out of my first 3 choices of yeast, which led me to using WLP550 and some 3711 to ensure dryness (not sure that was necessary). When I brew this again I may drop the Saaz, I dont think its really bringing anything to the table here, and will certainly use either WLP565 or Wyeast 3711 as originally planned. I will also opt for a simpler grist, dial back the Munich a little bit, which I would let Nelson shine a bit more. Don't get me wrong I enjoy this beer fine but in its current state its not exactly as I intended. After having Prairie 'Merica recently, I have different ideas on how I would like to use Nelson in the future, and it may involve cloning that beer. But thats for a different, more Brett filled, post.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Clear deep golden with hints of orange. Dense 2 finger white head that dissipates to 1 finger and lingers throughout the glass leaving nice lacing. Fine bubbles shooting up the sides of the glass rapidly.

Aroma: White pepper aromas, grapefruit, phenols, very reminiscent of white wine as the Nelson description goes. Some slight alcohol aromas as it warms.

Taste: Dry upfront, a slight bitterness that may be accentuated by the dryness giving way to a slight bready malt to balance it out a little bit. Grapefruit, with a bit or tartness in the finish, maybe best described as "tangy". Some alcohol bite is felt in the back of the mouth in the after taste, with a slight astringency on the back end that seems to be fading in this beer as time goes on.

Overall Impression: there is an interesting ride in the flavor from the first sip to the finish. It really evolves as it goes across your tongue. I think it could use a little more malt presence and maybe a dry hop of Nelson but this beer is enjoyable. Nelson is extremely unique, I've not come across a hop character that carries a beer so well with such complexity as this hop does, the recipe itself needs work but I think I am on the right track.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I heard its darker when it comes out of a can.

I haven't met very many beer nerds who are against craft beer in a can, although I am sure they exist. Portability, less waste, no broken glass, no skunky light struck beer, etc. There are many advantages, the more craft beer in a can options the better, who doesn't want a flavorful low alcohol beer in a can to tailgate, camp, picnic, etc with?

If I were to list all the craft brewers who can we would be here forever, it's becoming countless these days. From Oscar Blues, who really got things going, to The Alchemist who cans Heady Topper (one of best beers in the world mind you), the different styles of beers that can be canned are limitless.

So the pros have jumped on the bandwagon over years, but what about us homebrewers? Well that brings us to the Mobile canning companies that have been popping up all over the country. Not only are they helping small brewpubs with limited canning runs, but they are also teaming up with Homebrew clubs to can Homebrewed beer, wine, cider, anything in liquid form.

This past weekend my club, the Philly Homebrew Club, did exactly that by teaming up with We Can Mobile Canning to can members Homebrew (for a $35 fee of course). If you attended the National Homebrewers Conference this year in Philadelphia you probably remember the infamous exploding cans from Round Guys Brewing, We Can Was actually the canning company that packaged that beer. It was interesting to chat with those guys about that, it was obvious he was sick of hearing about it though.

The first of my beers being filled.
To share a bit of my experience with the canning of my beer, and these are things I wish I would have know ahead of time. I canned my Farmhouse Festbier, the beer was carbonated to 2.8vols and was stored in my kegerator at 40f. It turns out the beer needs to be 33f and 2.9vols or lower, so I was up against it. Next time I will can something slightly less carbonated and turn the fridge down to 33-35f, maybe even something funky.

This resulted in some foamy beer and low fills, which I wasn't worried about and I did end up with nearly 3 cases while everyone else had 2. It was interesting to "work" (or watch and drink) the canning line while the guys explained the workings of the system. We had a Barleywine, Patersbier, Saisons, Porters, IPAs, Sour Beer, and Wine canned, you name it (even gin an tonic!), it was canned that day.

The plan is to have my wife who owns her own Graphic Design firm, WFGD Studios, design a label for the cans and give them away during the holidays. I dont plan on aging more then maybe 2-4 cans for any extended period of time. Most of them will likely be gone by New Years.

I guess this is more of a brag than an informative post, so be it. But hopefully this will inspire folks to give this a try given the opportunity. But here are a few shots of the beers being canned. Click Here for the full album.

In this shot you can really see the bubbles in the lines, a lot of the other beers looked still going through.