Sunday, April 30, 2006

the malt experiment

Things are hectic around here. I'm finished with speciation, but still need to finish my presenation for pop gen on Tuesday, grade my student's projects and final (take home, short answer/essay) exams, continue doing the FDIBS conference stuff, plan my experiments for the summer, and get my fishing stuff together before I head home this Friday. My brother, my father and myself are going fishing in central PA. My dad will be with us for three days on Penns Creek, Fishing Creek and maybe Little Juniata then my brother and I will head up into the north country and hit Slate Run, Cedar Run, and maybe Kettle Creek and their tribs for another couple days. We'll be camping out which will rule. My bacon grease deep fried trout plan may actually come to pass on this trip. Anyway, been busy here and will continue to be busy for some time.


BUT, yesterday Ryan and I finally managed to get together to complete the final stage of our bitters malt experiment (and taste a couple other beers as well). A couple months ago we brewed four batches of ordinary bitter using the same recipe but varying the malt type. Another member of our homebrew club also brewed one up using American 6-row malt. The malts Ryan and I used were: Briess (American) 2-row, Munton's Maris Otter (premium English malt), Crisp Maris Otter (premium, floor malted, English malt), and Simpson's Golden Promise (a Scottish distiller's malt).

The recipe was as follows (for 5 gallons):

7lbs malt of choice (mash at 1.3qts/lb at 152 degrees F for one hour)

90 minute boil

1.5oz Fuggles (4%AA) at 60 minutes
1oz " at 20min
0.5oz at 1min

500ml 48hour White Lab's 002 English Ale starter

Ferment 66-68 degrees F.

All ended up right around 4.5% abv.

We finally tasted them yesterday and they were all pretty good. Ryan's wife Dar set up a blind tasting for us which was awesome.

You can already see the variation in color and head retention, and the head retention does not map onto serving type. Two of the beers were bottled from a keg with a counter pressure filler and two were served straight from tap and one from a bottle conditioned bottle. But the ones on the left were counter pressure filled! Wild huh?

We tasted them blind then guessed what was what. I thought the 6-row and the Briess American 2-row were the easiest to pick out. I also got the Crisp Maris Otter right but mixed up the Golden Promise and Munton's Maris Otter. Honestly, it was tough to distinguish the Crisp, Munton's, and Golden Promise.

CRIST MARIS OTTER (FG = 1.007) darkest- ok head retention- nice nose, hint of diacetyl- pleasant sweetish malt- just a hint of fermentation character- fairly mellow malt flavor- bitter finish, quite bitter, a touch grainy in the finish too- light mouthfeel- low carbonation- not much in way of malt flavors- minimal malt in the nose and palate but pleasant

AMERICAN 6-ROW (FG??) lightest- clightly better head than 1 but quite big after poured into my tasting glass- huge grainy nose- just a whisper of fermentation character- but mostly sharp, husky, grainy character- very astringent palate, super astringent- zero malt flavor- tastes dryer than one (althought knowing the numbers now that seems unlikely)- thinner mouthfeel- bitter finish combined with the astringency makes for an unpleasant finish- husky, grainy palate

MUNTON'S MARIS OTTER (FG = 1.010) similar color to 1, very bad head but lots of gas coming out of solution- nice nose- big fruit- strawberry- nice sweet, bready character- better than 1- almost citrusy like dry hopped?- nice mellow palate- about same mouthfeel and bitterness as 1- more caramel in the finish- nice round finish pricked up with decent carbonation- higher carb than 1- definitely finished bitter though and maybe just a touch astringent

AMERICAN 2-ROW (FG = 1.009) lightest, best head- clingy lace- pale yellow color in my glass- hops in the nose- some fermentation character in the nose but minimal- minerally nose? lemon in the nose? very little malt on the palate- super clean and crisp flavor- quite bitter but not astringent in the finish- very clean bitterness- citrusy hops- dominated by the hops- most bitter so far- light, dry mouthfeel- good, clean, bitter beer

GOLDEN PROMISE (FG = 1.011) similar color to 2- second best head, clingy- beautiful color- honey gold- HUGE nose- bready, doughy, very doughy, a little soapy?- floral? (Dar said peaches and I think that's right)- significant fermentation character- most mellow and smooth of the palates- nice smooth round malt flavors- lowest perceived bitterness- biggest mouthfeel- very nice bready/doughy palate- very mellow, very nice- finishes the smoothest of the bunch

I think the American 2-row and the Golden Promise were my favorites. We were all very surprised at how big the differences were between the beers. We were worried that it would be difficult to differentiate them, but they were all definitely unique. The 6-row was probably bad not only because it was brewed with 6-row (a cheap malt used by the macros) but also because of brewing techniques. Ryan and I brew pretty consistent batches and we aren't really familiar with the brewing techniques of the guy who brewed the 6-row.

Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We wanted to try all those beers in the picture above, but when 1am rolled around I was beat and had to call it a night. I'm bummed we didn't get to try the 2004 Kuhnhenn raspberry Eisbock and the Heavyweight barley wine and Sticke Alt...another day, another day.

VICTORY SAISON, bottled 4/1/2005- massive carbonation- huge bubbles EXPLODE out of solution- head faded quickly in my Duvel tulip glass- nice big nose- cotton candy- bananas- big bananas- touch spicy- really palel yellow- hint of gold/orange colors- super clean palate- very dry- super clean- not astringent at all- finishes very easy- really straightforward palate- maybe a touch of citrusy character-= I'm impressed with the smoothness of this beer but I'm afraid it came at the cost of character.

Jolly Pumpkin is an awesome "artisan" Belgian brewery in Dexter MI that now bottles only in 750ml bottles. The bottles we tried were from Jolly Pumpkin's very first batches of beer and they were done in 12oz bottles with the 750ml on the label scratched out and 12oz penned in. These beers have changed a lot since back in the day. I was not impressed with these first batches. I've had both kinds of beer since then and they are much better now.

JOLLY PUMPKIN LUCIERNAGA huge bitter orange peel in teh nose- weird, intense spicing- coriander? fairly dark color- deep orange- burnt copper- musty smelling? weird smells- white wine? really weird palate- huge orange peels again- dryish- quite tart- touch astringent- high carbonation- actually really tart and kind of sour- no Brettanomyces- aged 18 months in oak (wine?) barrels- tastes stronger than the 6.5%abv on the label- ethanol on breath

JOLLY PUMPKIN LA ROJA (7.5% abv?) very little carbonation- nice deep burnt red color- not persistant head at all- huge rotten oranges in the nose- over ripe oranges- quite tart taste- very tart- maybe a hint of bourbon- supposedly aged in bourbon barrels but it doesn't come through like I think it would or like it has in other batches I've tasted- very tart, dry finish- very alcoholic tasting, on breath- tiny little bit of caramel maybe and a hint of chocolate?- thin mouthfeel- ton of orange- very dry- very tart- hot alcohol- spicy in the finish


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you get the idea for the trout fried in bacon grease from Hemmingway's The Last Good Country?
I wish you the best of luck.
Glenn Rank
Fourth Grade Science Teacher at East Bradford Elementary School