Taste Tests - Brew 1, Brew 3

When I opened the fridge last Saturday, I wish I'd taken a picture. The entire fridge was filled with beer bottles, most with no labels. It was true a vision to behold. Many would say it was sad. Many would disagree. Personally, I took pride in the fact that not only was that fridge filled with beer that may actually prove to be not only drinkable but maybe even good, but I made it!

Yeah, sure, it was a kit. Whatever, I still made it, so shush.

So anyway..

Brew 1, the Red Ale
On the day the directions said it would be ready, it was... OK? It was not really much better than it had been on the last taste test, and we realized that the growlers were actually pretty much flat. It tasted like Apple juice that someone dipped bread in. The caps were bogus. I was rather disappointed in that fact. The bottles were somewhat better than the growlers. I'm finishing the last four bottles now actually, wondering what the last growler will be like, as it sits alone on the top shelf of my fridge in the basement. ...yeah, we're down to 1 growler and 4 bottles. We did extensive taste testing. :D

When I tell you that my digestive track was a little "off" the next day, I really think you need to read every possible interpretation of the description. The word "explosive" only begins to scratch the surface. It was like a trash bag that was inflated and filled with beef stew had exploded.

Now, honestly? I don't mind a few extra trips to the bathroom, and I, like every red blooded American male find flatulence hysterical. Fortunately I was by myself most of the day, so it wasn't an inconvenience. I should have recorded a few, cause... wow.

So over all, the Red Ale: not bad. It was a step above the fizzy yellow american "frost brewed" lagers, so that's a plus. However, I think if I had my choice, I'd go with a Bass Ale.

As far as the alcohol content, it seemed to be ok, if a little lower than most others of it's kind.

I would probably not buy that kit for the next Red Ale.

Brew 3, the Irish Stout
I realize it's a little early for brew 2 or 3, but the results of Brew 1 lead me to believe that 21 days isn't going to make too much of a difference from 17. It's Tuesday now, and Brews 2 and 3 are scheduled to open up on Saturday.

You may have already noticed, I didn't try anything early from Brew 2 tonight. So why Brew 3? You may remember from a previous post, Brew 3 is a little special, because my priming sugar got dumped, so in a beer induced haze, I guesstimated amount of sugar I needed, and used run of the mill confectioner's powdered sugar. I wanted to see how that was going.

While I have no "test samples" of what that particular kit could give you having used the right stuff, I have to say, I'm pleased. It's got everything a stout should have. I'm going to hold off on saying where it ranks among the "big boys" right now, cause it's still technically got another four days to sit, but I think it's safe to say that the powdered sugar isn't going to make a problem for it.


Taste Tests - Brew 1, Brew 2, and Brew 3

So curiosity got the better of me last night. I had fifteen gallons of beer in the fridge, and whether you believe our motivation or not, I was actually very curious how it would taste before it was actually ready. Jeff and I thought we'd crack a bottle from each brew just to see what was what.

First problem: I mixed the bottles up by accident, and we ended up tasting the stout expecting the red ale... If you've ever done something like poured yourself a glass of orange juice while thinking about milk or something like that, you'll understand the shock when it tasted very different than what we expected! After we sorted things out, we found the following:

Brew 1: The Red Ale
This brew is supposed to stay in the bottles in the fridge until Saturday, but we opened it the Monday before. We were pleasantly surprised! The red ale is very nice, though still has just a little sweetness to it that gives it a slight aftertaste that stays with you, which I'm sure will burn off in the next couple of days. A few more days of mellowing should put it right.

The body was amber, light and crisp. It was decently carbonated. It reminded me of Bass Ale, only a little lighter. Long story short: I'm a fan. :)

Brew 2: The Brown Ale
This brew is not supposed to open until a week from this Saturday, but we opened it Monday, a full 12 days early, so we weren't expecting to be impressed. It had an awful lot of head! The sugar that was still floating around in the bottles gave it a somewhat syrupy sweet aftertaste that never went away.

We noticed that after drinking maybe six ounces, we were extremely full... Uncomfortably so! Naturally we finished the bottles, shrugged and said "Meh." while we bloated. Finally after a belch or five we were ready to move on.

Brew 3: The Irish Stout
My expectations for this brew were low to begin with being also 12 days early, and if you'll recall from the Bottling of Brew 3, I left my priming sugar in the kitchen disolving in the pan, and it got cleaned up by accident, and I had to use powdered sugar... I wasn't sure how much to use, so I estimated an amount that looked about the same as the priming sugar that came with the kit. I've heard a couple different opinions, but generally it sounds like if powdered sugar is used, it should be slightly less than Corn sugar... Last I heard was it's 1/3 of a cup of corn sugar, or a 1/4 cup of powdered... But don't quote me on it. I'm not planning on needing to know for the future, I'll be a little more vigilant in making sure I have what I need.

Like the Brown Ale, this brew was syrupy and sweet and had a long lasting after taste. All things considered, it wasn't bad. I'm looking forward to giving it another try after it's had a chance to consume the sugar.

All in all
The point wasn't to drink beer yesterday, but we wanted to know what a beer tasted like before it was ready, and I'm glad we did. I found it interesting to experience the different flavors of the ingredients as they went through their process, and yes, I'll admit, it was nice to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from the finished product, even if it was a little un-ripe.

I did end up having a bit more of the red ale than I'd intended though, cause really, it was good... Looking forward to cracking a few more of those this Saturday! (hopefully while we brew some more!)

I also got some pretty raging heart burn last night, around 3am. I am assuming it had to do with all the active yeast and sugar and such that I'd consumed. Zantac to the rescue!


Brew 2.2 and Brew 3.1

Saturday May 29th we bottled brews 2 and 3, The Brown ale, and the Irish Stout respectively. I'm a little bit embarrased to say I didn't take any pictures, nor did I take any gravity readings. Things were a little hectic in the house, the family was cleaning and such, and Jeff and I were just trying to get things done and stay out of the way.

The brown ale bottled fairly quickly and uneventfully. I believe we got 4 Growlers and 28 bottles? By the time we were ready to bottle the Irish Stout, we'd actually polished off a growler of one of BBC's brews called Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale, and I think a couple other bottles of something...

A Note... We bought a new sanitizer at the recommendation of a knowledgeable friend. We specifically asked if it was no rinse, and he said yes. He owns the store we shop for our supplies at, so we took his word on it. It's not that I doubt him, I just wanted to establish that this was another variable in these two brews.

Anyway, I'd gone upstairs, (as we were bottling down in the basement), and mixed up the priming sugar in a pan of hot water, let it dissolve, etc... Brought it down, and mixed it slowly into the Brew 2, as we moved it to the bottling bucket. Once that was moved, I ran upstairs, and mixed the next bag for Brew 3 into the pan and set it down to dissolve while we bottled Brew 2. We got Brew 2 all bottled and capped, and get Brew 3 set up to move to the bottling bucket, when I went to reach for the priming sugar... It wasn't there. Then I remembered I'd left it upstairs. I went up to get it, and found the pan over turned in the dishdrainer. Remember I'd said the family was cleaning?

Not the end of the world of course, as I know you can use powdered sugar as well. However, I didn't know how much. I tried to use around the same amount as what was in the bag of priming sugar from the kit. I'm hoping I didn't use too much, as I don't need any irish stout bombs in my basement...

Now, we did try both brews after we'd filled the bottles. We tried a little of what was left in the bucket, as much as we could get without it being clouded by the lees... Both brews tasted outstanding. The stout had the little bit of a bitter aftertaste as it should, the brown ale was slightly nutty... Perfect, says I. I'm very much looking forward to cracking these brews! They will make their way to the fridge this weekend for their final 2 weeks of fermentation.