This summer hasn’t really been the most optimal time for brewing for me. I think I’ve made a few good brews, one competition brew, and at least one beer I wasn’t completely satisfied with. The jury’s still out on the competition beer since I haven’t taken a taste yet, but the others are all either in the rear-view mirror or only have a couple bottles left. Now, as Labor day is almost upon us (the unofficial end of summer in the US), is as good as any time to look back and talk about the results of some of the more interesting batches.
Raspberry Vanilla Porter
This poor, poor beer. It never really had a chance from day one. This 3 gallon batch was made shortly after I finished my competition beer and the bacon maple beer. It has been unseasonably cool, but the temperatures are still warmer than optimal for fermentation. This beer has the pedigree to be good, but I think the execution may have been lacking. One vanilla bean was added, some green cardamom, and after sitting in a carboy for about 3 weeks 1.5 lbs of fresh raspberries were added. The raspberries were frozen for about 24 hours before I added them. This freezing helped turn the raspberries into mush to better extract their flavor. Once I got around to bottling this beer (after about 10 days in the secondary) it had an overwhelmingly raspberry aroma. I’m pretty sure that any vanilla or cardamom flavors or aromas will be whisked away on a freight train of raspberry flavor. I haven’t tasted this one yet so I can’t be sure but I’m guessing this will be closer to raspberry juice than a beer.
Punch of Peño Ale
This beer has gotten a big thumbs up from everyone that has had a chance to try it. It is a light colored ale with a significant pepper aroma. It is smooth and refreshing with just enough bitterness to keep you from forgetting that you’re drinking a beer. A second batch of this brew will definitely happen and I have already thought of ways I want to change the recipe. The most disappointing thing to me with this beer is the fact that there isn’t enough heat. The pepper flavor is great, but there’s just no ‘punch’ to this beer. Next time I’m going to add in some hotter pepper along with the jalapeno in order to round out the pepper portion. Overall, this beer doesn’t need heat to be refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable but that doesn’t mean I can’t experiment.
Bacon Maple Ale
This beer has the grounding to be decent, and I think the bacon element was done well, but overall the product was lacking. The maple syrup used to prime the bottles was way too overwhelming. Not only did the syrup not give quite enough carbonation, it drowned out most of the other flavors. This maple flavor might ease over time but I’m a bit worried that the bacon in the beer could go rancid if I let them sit too long. Next time, if there is a next time, I’m adding half as much maple syrup and adding regular priming sugar along with it.
ESB for the Brooklyn Wort Contest
This batch was the true reason the Raspberry Porter didn’t get any love! I scrounged up every last bottle I had to bottle this 5.5 gallon batch and had no others to spare. Only recently did I have enough new bottles to bottle that other batch. As far as how this one turned out, I’m not quite sure yet. It smelled and tasted as expected when I bottled it, which is good, but I haven’t had a chance to taste the final product quite yet. I can really only open about one bottle of this before the competition day so I want to make sure the taster friends of mine can all try it and give me some feedback. After the event is over, I’ll most likely post about the contest and results.
My next beer will be an IPA. I have a bunch of hops just waiting to be used and the grain is sitting in a cool, dark place. I just need to find a time when the weather will cooperate and I can get a primary fermentation at a decently low temperature.