Tag Archives: pale ale

Glass Experiment: Mirror Pond

The first ale I chose for the glass experiment was Deschutes’ Mirror Pond. I picked this ale for two reasons: I like it and I know how it tastes. I hoped that this would give me a solid baseline: since I know what Mirror Pond is supposed to taste like, I would have a better sense of how it was affected, if at all.

Here’s what we noticed: Nose was nice in schooner but there was less nose, in the pint glass.

I noticed more malt flavors in the mug and the brandy glass not much nose, at all, initially. I wondered if a short pour as effecting the experience: as you can see from the photo, the brandy glass has the least head on it of the four.

My girlfriend caught more scents than I did but said the flavors was largely unaffected. She didn’t like the weightiness of the mug–which I tried to suggest wasn’t really what we were testing for but upon discussion I had to admit was part of the experience. She got more nose in brandy glass than I did, which I was surprised at because there was no foam on top. The pint glass had and kept foam best, with the mug a second, yet the schooner offered more scent than the mug did.

We agreed that these differences in Mirror Pond were subtle. Very, very subtle. We made a mistake by pouring all four beers at once, which caused us to hurry through each of them at first, trying to get scents, and then work our way through the rest of the experience slower. It made picking differences out more challenging but I will point out that because each beer was the same, plucking differences out should be difficult. Regardless of the challenge, in the future we’ll have all the beers on the same evening but two at a time so we don’t have to rush.

As we drank, I got much more nose from brandy glass-too much. By the end of the floral notes were almost sickening to me. That was a very, very confusing moment because no other glass provided this experience. Also the mug kept the beer coldest out of the glasses. We proposed that it might be better for lagers.

She liked the lager glass then the pint glass, the brandy glass then the mug. I went pint, lager, mug, brandy.

Conclusions: this won’t make a bad beer better, nor a good beer excellent but each glass does push some style points of this beer further than others.

So the first thing to say here is: I was wrong. The glassware does have an impact. I am genuinely surprised by this. I still believe that most people can be forgiven for not caring about the glass much and I don’t think that people should become snooty about their glassware because those differences were small, gentle ones and not really enough to change lead into gold. I feel that a wonderful beer will show its true colors in any container.

But the glass could brighten (or dull) a beer in a few tiny ways that could affect a patron’s enjoyment and sometimes those little changes make all the difference.

Thinner

fresh hop pale

This was a pale that I made using a batch of fresh Centennial hops that I got, along with just a touch of dried hops, (the variety of which I do not remember) for a little bitterness. The nose is faintly grassy but reasonably pleasant, if not too strong in the mouth.

It was also a beer I made using the partial mash brewing method for the first time. I wasn’t able to get much conversion of sugars from that mash, which meant that the body of the beer suffered.

So what I have here is a beer that doesn’t have much in the way of a hop emphasis, coupled with a beer that doesn’t have much body. It’s got a distinct tea-like element which is offputting, at least for me. I’ve never really been a fan of tea, unless I was sick.

Unfortunately, this is one of the beers that had its recipe lost in the Great Laptop Crash. I can tell you it’s not bad but I can’t tell you precisely how it was made. Sigh. Technology gives and technology taketh.

Orange Blossom Pale

A few weeks ago, this beer was ready to drink but I was told; It just doesn’t seem time to drink it. It’s going to be great in the heat but right now, it’s just not ready for the stage.

With the weekend hitting the 80’s, it was time. Good thing, too: It’s really bubbly, so the mouthfeel is light. It’s smooth and sweet, with the orange flavor being quite refreshing. The beer also has a slightly astringent finish, very much like tea.

Which is the trick with this ale: I added way, way too much orange blossom tea at the end. Worked like a charm. Fortunately. I am not a professional, so I do not recommend anything per se.

But let me tell you how I made it anyway:

Steeping malts
.75 lb Gambriuns pale
.5 lb Victory
.5 vienna

Fermentables
7 lb LME

Hops
1.34 oz Crystal @ 60
1 oz Crystal @20
1 oz Perle @ 20

Adjuncts
3oz Orange Blossom blend tea @5

Yeast
from Laurelwood, gotten that day!

Original Gravity
1.062

Final Gravity
1.01

Terminal Gravity
1.019

ABV
6.80%

Pale, completed

Said I’d post the recipe  so now’s the time.

Steeping grains
.5 lb 2 row
.5 lb simpsons golden promise
.5 lb C60

Malts
7 lb LME
also, made a 1 gallon, w/11.5oz LME mix, to add to end.
added it @ aprox 105 degrees, know the cooled wort will chill it fine.

Hops
7/8th oz hops from Amber dry hop Citra
1.5oz Crystal hops @ 60
1.25 oz Crystal @ 20

Final use of octoberfest yeast from Laurelwood

Initial Gravity: 1.072

TG: 1.02

FG: 1.029

Yeast pitched @ approx 78
2ndary 3.22,12, gravity 1.020
bottled 3.31.12

ABV: 6.77%

Second Beer:
Same as the first, except:
2nd use of Pacman yeast

Initial Gravity: 1.068ish

TG: 1.021

FG: 1.03

Yeast pitched @ approx 78

ABV: 6.37%

Two Pales

So now my pale ale experiment has come to a conclusion and it’s time for some results!

The first one-the one I made second but had to bottle first, due to an accident-has a nice orangey nose with the malt character passing quickly into a drying sensation, not unlike white wine.

It’s also ferociously carbonated. Seriously: it was ready to go within a week of bottling and has only become more effervescent since then. It’s not impossible to drink by any means and the bubbles mean there’s a sensation of lightness as well as a palate cleansing moment that makes it fantastic with nachos. Or any other pub grub. Now I just need to find the pub that will let me bring this in so I can have it whilst eating meatball subs with bacon and chicken strips.

Dear Universe: Please make a meatball sub with bacon and chicken strips, extra provolone. For me. I’ll be extra good and write about it on the blog, I promise.

Then we have the second beer-which I brewed first but bottled second-has a sweeter flavor to it, much less hop nose and no bite, with less carbonation as well. Though the carbonation still sparks on the near-tip of my tongue, right behind where you’d taste sweet the best. From a visual perspective, they look very, very similar: I’m hard pressed even from the photos, to tell one apart from the other. They’re both clear and pretty close in hue.

This is a good beer, a little easier to drink than the other but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s the second beer I’ve had tonight or if it’s actually easier.

I mean, at some point, I’m just happy it’s homebrew. Recipes will be posted next week!

7pm Conditional Love

You know, I got nothin’ today. Let’s talk about the beer.

It’s a pale ale by Falling Sky and it’s got the bitterness of an IPA. This isn’t working for me, which is odd to say since I usually like IPAs. However, without some malt backbone to bridge from a no-beer moment to a hop moment and carry me back again, I’m hard pressed to enjoy this ale. Perhaps I’ve had this beer too soon in the season and I’d like it more in the early Summer.

I can’t say that the beer is flawed, so much as I can say that it’s just not to style.

I have a sudden need for totchoes. Pulled pork with ’em. This beer would actually go great with a run of tatchoes, a fat wedge of lime squeezed over it all, pulled pork in the middle. Or, barbeque. Any barbeque.  Hearty sausages grilled into skewers with peppers and potatoes, hint of sauce. I can get behind that.

Damnit. Now I’m hungry.

So this beer makes me hungry. Is that a good beer or a bad one? It certainly has its place but if I’m going to insist (which I have) that if a beer requires a piece of fruit in order to be good, then it’s not a proper beer, then I suppose saying that this beer would be good with fries gives this beer a qualifier that also falls under the fruit category.

That run on sentence sounded better in my head. It probably also made more sense but what’cha gonna do? You’re here, I’m here. That sentence is out there and it can’t be taken back anymore. You’re going to have to love me for it, despite it all.

There’s a Tshirt waiting to happen. “You’re going to have to love me for it, despite it all.”

But not this beer. I can make my love for beer conditional.

Dear Rogue

I went to the establishment on 15th and Flanders on my birthday, where I had the Freedom Hop ale, touted by the bartender as the only beer in the world that is being made with a single hop throughout the process.

Ahem.

But OK, he probably meant commercial beers and there’s really no sense in being dickish about it: I’m getting a free beer. A beer I liked, too! It was a really solid pale ale, easy to drink and I would’ve had more of it if there had been time. The hops weren’t too bitter on the finish and the nose was a softer citrus, like a flower. All in all, a very agreeable beer to drink.

Now, since this was a liter of beer to myself, I ordered tater tots. I had a difficult time making this choice, as though some part of me was reluctant to get anything at all, a voice suggesting that I should’ve eaten before I arrived. This feeling would be unremarkable except for the fact that the tots were, hands down, the worst I’ve ever tasted: burnt, dirty flavors all over them. I just couldn’t finish the serving.

That’s when I remembered: I didn’t like the chicken strips I got last year, either. I don’t know what you’re doing in the kitchen but if you’re fucking up tater tots, it needs to be fixed. Just sayin’.

I then wandered over to the Green Dragon where I had a lovely alt from The Commons, (continuing to cement their place as a kick ass brewery) but decided to avoid any other form of nourishment. Just in case.

Pale Experiment 2012

In my relentless pursuit of things to do, I decided I would try making two beers with the exact same ingredients, save for the yeast. It hasn’t quite worked out, as you can see:

The beer on the left is lighter in color and I’m not sure why. The only difference was that I used Pacman from Wyeast in that, while in the one on the right, I used an ale yeast I got from Hopworks.

There is another difference: the wort on the left was brewed one week after the one on the right. It’s possible, then, that the lighter wort just hasn’t had enough time for things to drop out. That explanation doesn’t make much sense…so I suppose it really isn’t much of an explanation.

The most logical one is that: some darker malts got mixed up in the first batch. This is a possibility, since I mill my grain at FH Steinbarts and the person ahead of me could have been using darker malts: it wouldn’t take much to shift the color, I think.

That said I’m still surprised at the difference in color and I don’t have a truly satisfactory reason as to why there is a difference here. I’m also surprised at the activity of the yeast. The Hopworks yeast has been going like gangbusters for two weeks. The Pacman yeast? One week and now the beers look like this:

You can see how the beer on the right still has a thick layer of yeast working, where the left side? Not so much. I don’t know what it means but I do know that, despite being made later, the one on the left is nearly ready to go into secondary. I’ll get a gravity reading when I do that, which will hopefully tell me how far it’s come and if I just need to let this beer sit for a bit longer–or maybe, once I give it to other people, they can tell me what went awry, if anything.

I bought this II

Deschutes NWPAI guess the title for these are rather silly: I bought anything that wasn’t brewed myself. I don’t have it in me to steal beer.

Yet.

Today’s beer is Deschutes’ Red Chair, billed as a NW pale, it smells like the best part of being in a brewery; malty and hoppy and maybe just a suggestion of yeastiness. It’s hard to explain fully unless you’ve been to a brewery but put a hint of breadiness in and you’ve probably got it.

I’m glad this is a seasonal because it tastes some good. The piney hop bitterness at the end is a strong finish to this ale, which has just enough maltiness to it to keep it from going off the rails. I’d probably drink this year round if it was available, so I’m glad it isn’t. I’d go broke!

Seattle wrapup

While spending much of the last weekend at PAX, I made sure to take some time taking in what the locals drink and here’s what I recall:

Fremont Brewing had a lovely summer pale ale that made a very positive impression on me. It had an easy drinking quality and I would compare it to Deschutes’ Mirror Pond. I’d like to go back and get some more of their wares, because it really was a tasty beverage that I’d like more of and I’d like to see what else they do.

Brouwer’s pub is a great place to catch a pint or two. Go during happy hour though; it’s a little pricey. I can’t remember what brews I had exactly but I can tell you they were tasty and served properly. I was distracted by getting tiny plates of fries and sliders for dinner, which were super good. The staff was also tremendously helpful, returning a map for me that I very much needed to navigate the rough paths of Seattle. To the staff: thanks so much!

black raven ipaFinally, I had some of Black Raven‘s Trickster ale at the Parkway in Tacoma. As readers probably know by now, I have a thing for any beer named after mythological creatures and the Trickster is one of my favorite ones. It was an IPA that tasted like raspberries up front, drop of malt, then hoppy goodness at the end. Wonderful beer and if you have the opportunity, try it.

The beer was almost good enough for me to overlook the surliness of my server. Fortunately for us, she was soon supplanted by a much more pleasant one.