Rich’s Pale Ale 2.0 Tasting Notes

May 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm


Rich’s Pale Ale 2.0(US-05) Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a deep orange with shades of brown.  A one finger slightly off white head dissipates slowly leaving the glass rimmed with lacing.

Smell: Strong orange and grapefruit, piney and resinous, subtle floral notes accompany a slight malt sweetness.

Taste: Smooth clean sweetness with a mild hop bite on the initial sip, complemented nicely by a moderate hop medley of citrus and pine.  Finishes with a hint of herbs and orange, a lingering bitterness and hints of carmel round out the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, feels somewhat thin, nice interplay of hop aromatics and malt sweetness with a slight edge towards the hops.

Drinkability & Notes: This being the second version of my pale ale I was able to tweak the recipe, specifically in the addition of a touch more crystal malt in hopes of achieving a better balance.  This version is definitely more balanced than the first and the hop aromas align closer to those found in some of the popular commercial examples of the style.  In the first recipe I used CTZ and Summit which were a bit too aggressive in both bitterness and aroma and pushed the beer towards the upper limits of the Pale Ale range. These tasting notes are from the SafeAle-05 fermented batch, which is evident by the extremely clean fermentation. There are no noticeable yeast flavors, however upon tasting the gravity samples there was a noticeable difference in the bitterness between the US-05 and the Burton Ale WLP23 versions, with the US-05 being much more bitter.  I will provide tasting notes for the WLP23 fermented batch in the near future, which I suspect will be a bit more complex.

Unfortunately, I had brew day problems that forced me to completely drain my mash tun mid mash (never switch dip tubes in a rush) and subsequently caused my mash temperature to drop into the 130 degree range.  As a result this beer finished slightly higher in alcohol than anticipated as well as slightly thinner.  The additional 2-4 gravity points that would have resulted from a proper mash temperature would have really set this beer off, as I prefer my Pale Ale’s to have a slightly maltier mouthfeel.  With that being said I believe this recipe is much more balanced than the first, with a great blend of malt and citrus/pine hops aromatics, and based on the reactions from my friends and family will be a contender for first kegs to kick at my wedding later this year. 


German Hefeweizen Tasting Notes

May 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

German Hefeweizen (PP) #5

German Hefeweizen (Proper Pitch) Tasting Notes:

Appearance:  Pours a slightly hazy straw yellow.  One finger, pillowy, snow white head lingers long after the initial pour.

Smell:  Mild notes of wheat, clove, banana and citrus are present.

Taste: Grainy, wheat flavors dominate the initial sip, juxtaposed nicely by the sweetness of the Pilsner malt. Slight hints of herb and citrus on the finish.  Finishes with a strong residual banana burst and a ever so slight hint of clove.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation crisp and strong.  Finished slightly drier than I would have liked and is evident. The graininess from the large percentage of wheat malt helps offset this somewhat.

Drinkability & Notes:   The proper pitched batch of my German Hefeweizen yeast yielded a somewhat strong banana flavor, however it left me wanting more of a banana punch that defines the classic versions of the style.  Overall the beer is highly drinkable and true to the style.  I’m not sure why it attenuated down to 1.006 but it does come across in the final beer.  I will be looking to fix this when I brew it again for my wedding as I would like a slightly thicker mouthfeel.  I am also considering swapping Munich Malt for the Vienna to bulk up the color a bit as this finished somewhat paler than I would have liked.  With that being said for a total cost of roughly $40 dollars for 12 gallons this recipe has yielded a highly drinkable, refreshing beer.



Winter Dubbel Tasting Notes

February 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

As I discussed in my All Grain Primer, I tend to brew beers that are fairly true to style, or within the box as some might say.  I do this because after all my years brewing I have gotten to the point were I can usually take an idea or a flavor profile from a commercial beer, formulate a recipe, and most of the time come pretty close to nailing it on the first batch.  This is not to say that all my beers are perfect, but at the same time I rarely have a problem drinking through my 10 gallon batches.

One of my goals last year was to push myself to try and brew more experimental batches that incorporate unique ingredients or non-traditional combinations.  In my experience, adding such ingredients tends to make it much more difficult to nail down a recipe on the first try, often times this is due to using unfamiliar ingredients and/or spices.  The key to brewing palatable experimental beers is to use moderation with the non-traditional ingredients and/or spices, as too much can easily ruin a batch.  Last year I brewed 18 batches, two of which were experimental, the Belgian Table Ale with Tamarind and the Winter Dubbel, and while its not the greatest percentage its a start.

For the Winter Dubbel, I wanted to build on a recipe I brewed two years ago that used raisins, and add to it with the addition of port wine and some pre-brew cooking.  Instead of simply adding the raisins to the boil, for this batch I first caramelized them, then completed a port reduction, and finally added that puree to the boil.  In addition to the raisin port puree, I added some Weyermann Abbey Malt and corn sugar, to a traditional Belgian Dubbel grist consisting of Pilsner, CaraMunich III, and Special B.

After finally getting around to tapping a keg of this beer a few weeks ago, I must say that the combination has the potential to create a really unique take on a Belgian Dubbel.  With that being said the addition of the raisin port puree is definitely the dominant flavor of the beer, and I would reduce the amount slightly if I brew this beer again.  While this recipe is off to a good start, for it to become a truly greet beer a few more iterations will be necessary to really nail down the exact amount of raisins and port to get the proper balance.  With that being said lets take a look at the tasting notes.

Winter Dubbel Tasting Notes:


Appearance: Pours a muddy brown, shows as a dark copper when held to the light.  One finger thick off white head lingers for a while, leaving some lacing on the glass.  My beers are usually clear after sitting in the keg for a couple months prior to serving.  I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with this batch, but I’m thinking an increase in proteins or other substance from the raisin puree might be the culprit for the cloudiness.

Smell: Sweetness, port, fruit, and raisins are the dominant aromas. Subtle notes of honey, carmel, and vanilla are also present.

Taste: The initial sip is somewhat chewy with a moderate carb bite.  Sweet malt and raisins notes transition to a strong port finish.  Hops flavors are hard to decipher but bitterness is adequate to balance all the sweetness of the port.  Long lasting flavor of port on the finish, while noticeable no overwhelming alcohol flavors are present.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, semi sweet-

Drinkability & Notes: I really like the addition of the raisin port puree to the traditional Belgian Dubbel, however the port aftertaste is intense and tends to overpower the beer as a whole.  When brewing this recipe again I would reduce the amount of port used in the reduction, or drop the reduction entirely and add a small amount of port to the fermentor.  The amount of port I started with in my reduction might have been just too much leading to such amplified flavors in the final beer.  These are the challenges homebrewers face when brewing these out of the box beers, as the increase in ingredients enters more variables in the brewday.

One alternative I’m going to try on the second keg is  a moderate dry hop, in an effort to take off some of the port edge.  As currently brewed the beer drinks somewhat sweet, after two to three beers I’m completely satisfied and looking to move on to something else.  All in all I think the flavor components are in place, and with some effort this has the potential to be a truly unique spin on the classic Belgian Dubbel recipe.


Oak Aged EKG Single Hop Saison Tasting Notes

January 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

For Christmas this year I received a beer tasting kit from my sister, inside was a tasting note card with a flavor profile wheel.  As I post the majority of my tasting notes on the blog, I thought it would be a nice addition to add my own take on the flavor wheel to all future tasting notes on the site.  My wheel consists of 16 unique flavors subdivided into three levels of intensity; slight, moderate, and intense.  I hope that you will find this addition to the blog helpful as it will add a visual component to the traditional tasting notes categories found on many other blogs.

During my peak brewing season (April-November) I brew roughly 30 gallons a month, which as you can imagine is far to much beer for me to drink no matter how much I love beer.  I do 10 gallon batches and will often put a fresh corny on tap as soon as possible and leave one for later.  I decided that I would like to do an oaked beer and thought a saision would be a good candidate as they can become more defined with age.  I decided to add .75 oz of medium toast Hungarian Oak, hoping for a moderate to strong oak presence in the final beer.  The tasting notes below were taken after the beer (recipe) had been aged on the oak cubes for 6 months.

Oak Aged EKG Single Hop Saison Tasting Notes:


Appearance: Pours a crystal clear deep yellow, with a frothy white head.  Head dissipates slowly with moderate lacing around the glass.

Smell: Strong Belgian yeast aromatics and fruit dominate.  Finishes with slight notes of vanilla, flowers, and pepper.

Taste: Starts with a crisp carb bite and moderate bitterness.  The taste transitions to notes of bubble gum, fresh flowers, and sweet malt flavors. Finishes with a warming alcohol presence,subtle vanilla and oak flavors to round out the beer.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, extremely dry.

Drinkability & Notes:  The contrast between the fruity belgian yeast notes and the oak in combination with the delicate floral notes of the Eastern Kent Golding Hops make this one of the more complex beers I have ever brewed.  The yeast is the real star of this beer in my mind, as the Belgian Saision II (WLP566) gave off flavors that I would deem comparable to many commercial saisions (I have not found this to be the case with some of the other saision yeast strains).  This beer has gotten rave reviews from all my family and friends who have tried it so far and is on my short of potential beers for my wedding later this year.

The non-oaked version of this beer was exceptional as well with the only notable difference being a much more pronounced hop aroma and floral flavors.  It lacked the added dimension of the Hungarian Oak which in my mind put this beer over the top making it on of my favorites to date