Mistakes Shall Not Go Unposted!

Siiigh. Okey dokey. So although Sweet Dead Lion provided me with a hilarious and wonderful brew-day, it produced a less-than-wonderful brew. I’m actually going to toss part of the batch. And I feel downright embarrassed that, in my excitement, I shared it with a few friends before a true and honest taste test.

I don’t like drinking it and neither does well, anyone! It was bound to happen, there was so much drinking and laughing going on on brewing day, hahahaha. Shout out to Jen! Next time we’ll nail it.

My assessment of the brew is as follows:

  1. Look: So pretty! Rich black with a nice thick and long lasting caramel colored head. promising, but deceiving.
  2. Smell: Not terrible. a little sweet. At this point I’m starting to get molasses and (icky!) pecan indications.
  3. Taste: This is where things go downhill. It’s just a few ticks too sweet, and then I am immediately overwhelmed by a bitter burnt flavor (not a nice hop bitterness). Ugh. I can distinctly taste the (too) strong black molasses and the seriously icky pecan extract. Fakey fake!
  4. Feel: Here it’s not so great either. Kinda syrupy. Carbonation is ok.
  5. Overall: FAIL! What good is a beer that doesn’t taste good!?

So what went wrong? From what I can tell, these were my major major mistakes.

  • I remember thinking that maybe we’d not stirred often and early enough after we added the extract and molasses. We laughed and wondered if we’d burned the batch but forged ahead! This would definitely account for the burnt flavor.
  • Too much molasses. Definitely. Less would have been great for a more subtle flavor and sweetness.
  • Pecan ick. I will never use a strong extract like that again! Next time (oh yes, there WILL be a next time!) I will simply roast the pecans and dunk them using a nylon bag for the last few minutes.

How sad, this one never even got a label.

I post this in honour (British spelling) of my dear sweet sister, who posts her mishaps proudly.

On to the next!

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Beer is on the Way

So many beers! So I recently discovered that my own dear sister and brother-in-law also brew. We were discussing the not so finer points one day and decided that the only way to really have homebrew at the ready all the time is to brew without ceasing! So in that spirit, I have two going now. Well actually I had two and I bottled one the other day. Time for another 🙂

My method so far has been to add one new technique or level of complexity to my skills with every batch. So for the porter I brewed a few weeks ago, I went off the map and added a tin of molasses, not exactly knowing what that would do to things. For the next batch, a special bitter, I used dried extract instead of syrup in addition to the mini mash.

I do have some concerns with these two batches though.

One: the porter. This is my Sweet Dead Lion brew. It was originally the Southern ‘Gent, named for the molasses and pecans that went into the brewpot. At the homebrew store, I picked up some pecan extract as well, (it was in the “pecan porter” recipe I used as a template). Well, I was a little hesitant to throw it in, it smelled so buttery and strong. So I only put half an oz. in the entire 5.25 gal batch. But after a quick taste test, I fear even that was too much! Dang it! I don’t want a syrupy buttery beer. Who does? This is how I learn. Time will tell. Those 51 bottles are just mellowing out now. And I wait.

Two: the special bitter. Ever since I first read a chapter on “Great Beers of the World,” I’ve been intrigued by the classic English “special bitter” style ale. Just something about it. What I’ve read has formed a lovely idea in my mind. A delicious, medium colored, medium bodied, not too sweet, not too bitter, mellow ale. (Oddly, “bitterness” is not usually a characteristic of the bitter ales, how funny). Well, I used a recipe from the Complete Joy of Homebrewing and with a little help from my friends at the homebrew store, I got all the ingredients and more. I was so excited about it. But then, I got maybe a little too excited and added just a tiny bit of lavender in the last two minutes of the boil, for an herbacious aroma. Again with adding things, this is such a rooky post! I tasted it after only 6 days (probably a terrible time for a taste test). It was of course, warm and flat, and cloudy and not at all “beer-like.” But I knew those things would be true, and I tuned my buds to taste past all that, and determine if the true essence of the beer would yield… well, happiness. But argh. I just don’t know if I liked the lavender. Again, time will tell. And she waits.