I like very trying new beers. It’s no secret. But recently I had two beers, in a row, that I could not wrap my head around. Don’t misunderstand, these were not bad beers but beers that either fly over my head or I expected too much from.
The first beer is Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat. What is an urban wheat? I don’t know either. According to Beer Advocate it’s an American Pale Wheat Ale. Now APWA’s are a style I enjoy – In fact Bell’s Oberon is way up there on my list – but I just could not figure out the beers concept. First off, it’s a very light APWA and clearer than I’d expect. The aroma was very faint grassy and maybe slight lemon. The taste was wheat and an extremely faint hint of lemon. Both fade away to a water like taste after a few sips reminiscent of a cheap light lager. Mouth feel was light carbonation and supper thin. It was after roughly an eighth if the pint I said enough and drained it. It was almost like a cream ale but with wheat malt. Not close to what I want out of an APWA. As a side note I learned that Goose Island is owned by a very large company with a poor reputation with craft beer lovers …
The second beer was from another of my beloved styles: the dubbel. I’ve enjoyed St. Bernardus Pater 6, Chimay Rouge and the Westmalle Trappist Dubbel and I I walk by Petrus bottles every time I’m in the Belgian isle. It was time to try Brouwerij Bavik’s take on the dubbel. After pouring into a goblet I noticed quickly the low carbonation. There was some very minor white off lacing but it didn’t look anything like what I expected. The aroma was carmel, brown sugar and spices. The taste initially was dominated by sweetness followed by an RC Cola like flavor. After that I couldn’t shake that, not only did it taste like half flat RC Cola, it even looked a bit like it as well. And it wasn’t the pleasant hint cola like taste of Foothills Peoples Porter. Maybe I got a dud bottle?
Earlier I posted about my not so great early look at my first homebrew. That was from a test done earlier in this week using a bottle which had matured 1 week and then stayed in the fridge for a little under a week. Today is the two week in bottle mark so I decided to pull one bottle from the batch to pour it and test it. To be totally honest I figured it would be not too far off from my original test but the results were dramatically different.
There is carbonation. A good amount of it. I still think it will be a better move to use the sugar in the bottling bucket next time but this does alleviate one of my fears relating to that I may have to drain the entire batch due to flatness. As a side note I also believe my fridge may have been set a bit too cold as well which could have been a (small) factor in the lackluster carbonation in the first trial.
The smell is much improved. The smell from the first test is hard to describe but the best I can come up with is banana, sugar and some spices. It wasn’t un-heffe like but it was still off. The smell now is much more of a solid banana and spice aroma.
The look has improved as well. The first test had a darker tone to it. Maybe it was related to flatness but, no matter what the reason, this has a darker (but not dark) wheat look to it.
This makes me feel a lot better about homebrewing. I’ve been a bit rocky thinking I made too many mistakes and preparing for the worst but things are looking up!
About six months back I got the itch to try my hand at home brewing. After realizing a bit over a year ago that beer can taste good and the trying some homebrew done by some friends and coworkers I wanted in. I headed up to the local brewing store and bought a brewing kit along with malt extract based hefeweizen to ingredient box as a starting point.
I should point out I was given some excellent advice from a fellow beer lover: Don’t make you’re own, just enjoy what other people make. As you guessed I didn’t listen.
With all my ingredients cleaned I started the process of making the wert in my brew pot. The problem came when I started to feel hunger kick in hard. The instead of watching the boiling wert like a hawk I ate food and watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia waiting for the 45 minute low boil to do its magic. Right at the end when I happened to be watching out of the corner of my eye it boiled over. So frustrating! I pulled the lid off and was able to save the wert but lost some amount in the boil over.
When it came time to ice the brew pot the sink refused to hold water wasting a lot of water and ice. Are you kidding me? Argh!
Then the instructions noted the need for sanitizer in the airlock. Sanitizer that we were finished with in step one of the process and dumped due to, well, being done with it.
After all this I felt like I’d not want to do this again due to all the mishaps making me want to give up and dump the wert. Even if this batch is drained I’ll likely try a few more times. The thought of having my own IPA or Belgian style ale adjusted to my taste is just too strong. In any case it’s all in the fermenter now and it’s time to wait. If your curious the starting gravity is at 1.050.
So far here is what I gather: The science and steps of making beer is really important. The foundation. And you can end it right at that and come out with a nice, but simple beer. The fun (and amazing differences) comes from the art that lives after the science.
Needless to say I’m not a good brewer. In fact I’m a pretty lousy one. Good news is I can only get better.