Friday, October 17, 2014

Tasting Notes: Gueuze Blending 101

I have been repeating this more and more recently, but I think it is very difficult to brew a world class sour beer without blending (or aging on fruit which I view as a form of blending). There are just too many variables outside of the brewers control once you pitch your bugs, so to keep some consistency, or add complexity, we blend. As I mentioned in the Gueuze Blending 101 post I didn't have enough vintages of Lambic on hand so I chose to use commercial Lambic bladders for extra components for my blend. It worked out even better then I could have imagined, hard to completely screw up with Girardin and Beersel lambic in your blend. I learned a few things for next time and ended up with a unique "Gueuze" that I feel will age for years to come, but time will tell as these bottles of (I'm now calling) Gooz 101 age.

I sent a bottle each to my fellow Yeast Bay Beta testers Brian and Marshall. They each posted tasting notes and reviews on their blogs, Brian's ReviewMarshall's Video Review. I agree with a lot of both these guys say about the beer, from the complexity to the sourness and the distracting sweetness on the back end both Marshall and Brian hit on similar notes I have.
I moved, and the DSLR is still packed away.
At least its not that tired window again.

Like Brian said, this beer is sour, and not in a tart and then off your palate type of way, this sourness packs a punch and evolves as it hits your tongue then pierces the back of your throat. Its very complex, with some classic funky aromas and peachy/mango undertones, and a very subtle acetic character but most of the sourness is lactic. 

The only thing that is holding this blend back is that silly, awful, borderline offensive, 1 year old Turbid Mashed Homebrew component of the blend. I get all the same distracting aromas and flavors in the Gooz 101 as I do from that component. So if I learned one lesson here, and Brian touched on it in his post, is you really cannot hide a less than stellar (kind of crappy in this case) beer in your blend. I do think that the residual sweetness that this component added will age out, and help to increase the carbonation level as it is a touch low still. But I worry that the acetone/nail polish remover aromas may not transform, but that might be me being paranoid. Overall I would call this a successful blend, and I am passing judgement on a very young beer at only 4 months in the bottle. Full tasting notes below:

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Deep dark yellow color, pours with a 1 finger bright white head that dissipates quickly to a thin ring around the sides. Fairly high carbonation, maybe slightly less than to style visibly.

Aroma: Musty funk, some acetone, underlying fruit aromas, mango and peach skin.

Taste: Sharp sourness upfront that hits the side of your cheeks and then a little stab at the back of my throat as it goes down. Prickly carbonation that gives the appearance of some body, it's bright, tart and drinkable.

Final Thoughts: This is a really nice blend, but like Brian said that one component of the blend probably should have been left out. As the glass warms I get a bit of that sweetness that 1 Year Turbid Mashed component had on its own. I believe that will age out a little bit over time but at the moment it gets somewhat distracting, more so as it warms. If not for that I wouldn't have much to complain about, only nitpick. My goal here was to learn something about blending, and I think I achieved that goal and ended up with a great little beer here. Don't hide your shitty sour beer in your blends, seems to always find its way into the finished product.

Side Note, that 1 Year Old Turbid Mashed Lambic still tastes like shit, but I have been racking about a quart of fresh hoppy Saison into it over the last few months. I'm hoping to blindly blend down that sweetness, acetic character, and acetone. I dont have high hopes that it will work, but its worth the shot, that Turbid mash was too much of a bitch to give up on it so soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tasting Notes: FarmWards

I am pretty critical of all the beers I brew but especially so for Saisons. I think its quite easy to brew a passable Saison but difficult to brew a great one. This beer would probably lean towards the passable end of the spectrum, not to say that it isn't enjoyable but it leaves me wanting a bit more. Unlike my HopHands clone where I had the inside track on some elements of the beer, this was always a bit of a shot in the dark at "cloning" Tired Hands flagship SaisonHands. As I documented in the brew day post, I knew the ingredients, except for the Saison yeast, but the grain proportions and hopping were a bit of a guess.

The finished beer was much better fresh then it was after a handful of weeks in the keg. As it aged I think it showed some flaws that I didn't love. After 2-3 months it was showing a bit of astringency that I hadn't noticed before. I have a couple hunches, one including the hopping rate, but at generation 4 I am wondering if my Wallonian Farmhouse pitch is showing some age. Either way I will be buying a new pitch shortly. 

First batches of a recipe are rarely going to be perfect, and I really enjoy dissecting these recipes and working out what works and what does not. Its a great way to test your skills as a brewer, as I am learning while still trying to dial in a wheaty DIPA. I will get this one dialed in yet.
A cloudy, young, citrus forward pour by the window.
Became brilliantly clear after 3 months in the keg.


Appearance: Golden color, similar to the Golden State Warriors yellow. Frothy white head, 2 fingers worth, so much lacing on this glass.

Aroma: Earthy, hay like, Coriander or some kind of spice I can't pinpoint. Citrusy, subtle lemon, mango, fruity citrusy esters abound.

Flavor: Dry, spicy, yet a creamy mouthfeel that then punches you in the top of you palate as it finishes super dry and spiced, a bit astringent on the finish.

Final thoughts: This beer is pretty solid, if I wanted to call it a clone I think maybe Wallonian is a bit too different than what TH uses. But I really love the profile of this yeast, and it pairs well with Cascade, it may be hopped a little bit too aggressively but when fresh it was enjoyable. A solid recipe that needs some tweaking. 

The version with the Tire Hands Emptiness culture is going to be great with this base, I racked it onto some Chardonnay soaked oak and bottled it all up not long ago. Not sure what yeast are in the Emptiness series of beers t but it was showing an copious amounts of passion fruit in the aroma reminiscent of beers I've brewed with Nelson Sauvin.