Strange-steve's Homebrew Reviews

Discussion in 'General Beer Discussion' started by strange-steve, Dec 28, 2016.

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  1. Mar 30, 2019 #261

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    So tonight I'm drinking the second beer from @Zephyr259 which is a saison at a rather merry 9% ABV, sounds like my kind of beer...

    Aroma
    Phenolic yeast character very prominent, peppery spice, some fruitiness, a little tart with hints of bubblegum which is interesting and a bit of alcohol in there too.

    Appearance
    Poured very clear initially but I got a bit of sediment in there hence the haze, but a very pretty golden colour with fantastic head retention.

    Flavour
    Spicy phenols initially, a touch of fruitiness which grew as the beer warmed a little, clean subtle malt flavours and very dry as a saison should be. A big kick of alcohol (not unexpected at 9%) but it's smooth, no harshness to it at all. Great carbonation, really lightens the beer on the tongue and adds to the dry finish.

    Overall Impression
    For some reason I thought you'd told me this was fermented with Wy3711, but as soon as I tasted it I had a feeling I was wrong on that (and actually the hint of bubblegum in the aroma was my first clue). I think it was Brewhaha who had used it, I'm losing track of all these swaps! Anyway I'm going to hazard a guess that this is MJ French saison, it has that distinctive MJ bite that I seem to get every time from their yeasts. Well almost every time, Ajhutch managed to slip one past me (although I'll be hanging up my mash paddle if you tell me I'm wrong!) I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about the flavour profile from their yeasts that just doesn't sit right with me. It doesn't ruin this beer for me, but it does reduce my enjoyment a little. And that's just my personal taste, I know others love it so it's not really a criticism, more an observation, feel free to ignore it because this is very well brewed, I love the complexity that comes from beers of this strength and I've made a note to brew a really big saison soon. So thanks for sending this mate, and because you were generous in sending two beers I owe you another, I have a lemon and lime Berliner if that takes your fancy, or a spiced quadrupel if not? BTW I'm curious, what was the fermentation temperature for this?

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Mar 31, 2019 #262

    Zephyr259

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    Thanks again for the very detailed feedback but I'm sorry to say you have to hang your mash paddle up. It's Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale, the Blaugies strain. Now that you've had both beers I shall reveal all my secrets, well, it's been on my brewday thread since the 20th Feb but here's a copy hidden in a spoiler since it's rather big.

    In the end it's not close to Tripel Karmeliet but it never was going to be without a different yeast and I decided I wanted a saison, Also I needs a lot more orange to be like TK to my palate. How did you find the body? It has a huge mouthfeel to me, especially since it finished at 1.002, probably all the wheat and oats. Seems to still be slowly building carbonation as each bottle is getting better fizz and head.

    This was a very interesting split wort experiment, got about 20 bottles of each which is probably better than 40 of the saison.

    One of the spiced Quads would be great if you're ok with that? Thanks

    The split batch based on Tripel Karmeliet I mentioned above was as follows.

    2.5 kg golden promise
    800g malted wheat
    550g malted oats
    400g flaked barley
    250g rolled oats
    200g torrified wheat

    Used the yellow balanced profile from bru'n water and did my usual of scaling it up from 50 to 100 Ca. Got to play with a step mash, 10 min /43c (acid), 15 min /50 (protein), 30 min / 65c (beta), 30 min / 70c (alpha), 10 min / 75c (mash out). Gave me a lovely clear golden wort, step mashing seems to do that for me.

    Boil is where this one starts to get interesting, sparged to 21L then drew off 1 L, this got simmered for 15 min with 10g styrian goldings (4.8%) and then strained and reduced to a syrup, I also made the mistake of tasting it... The main boil was for an hour with 15g styrian goldings at 60 min, 10g styrian goldings at 30 min, then 20g saaz (3%) at 15 and 5 min. Spicing was 1 star anise at 30 min and the zest of 2 oranges and 10g coriander at 5 min.

    Now things get complicated again, the wort was run off between 2 fermenters, 8L for the saison and 7L for the weizen, saison got 325g of Tradecraft raw sugar and the weizen got the hopped syrup. Sugar is traditional in Tripels and storng saisons and the hopped syrup was to make the 2nd beer a bit more bitter and malty as it was going to be along the lines of a weizenbock, but paler (Helles).

    This grain bill was from the CSI recipe, hops, spicing and mash steps were from a thread on homebrewtalk. This thread had tried many yeasts and none were quite right, Wyeast 1214 was maybe the closest but my jar of it was too old and it's a massive pain to deal with in small batches since it's so powdery, as such I went for Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse ale as my first saison with this yeast came across almost like a tripel when it was 6 months old and had slightly over carbonated itself.

    In the end I had 8L at 1.070, 23 IBU for the saison and 7.5L at 1.062, 30 IBU (bit of a guess). Efficiency was only about 66% on this one, think the crush was bad but my drill was running out of batteries so I only just got it milled, normally I mill the night before brewday but had been busy so didn't this time, should have run the grain though a second time manually but hey ho, a bit more sugar to the saison would keep me on target for 8%, or so I thought before the yeast went nuts and gave me 9% as I mentioned in the previous post. Weizen got Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen, both were pitched around 18c and ramped 1c per day to 24c then held for 2 weeks until I was home to bottle them.

    Helles Weizenbock came in at an fg of 1.016 for 6%. Primed the Saison for 3 vol and the weizen for 2.8, both are quite tasty even after only 2 weeks in the bottle, no hot alcohols or rough edges I could detect at the time, carbonation wasn't as high as expected, which is becoming a trend, maybe I'm knocking out too much CO2 when racking to bottling bucket? I figure they were still young and the carbonation will have continued to develop over the last month. First taste of the saison was weird, took a minute to put my finger on it but it was the combo of the yeast and the really fresh hops, just not a common combination in a 9% beer, but tasty, they'd mellowed and blended a bit by the 2nd taste a week or 2 later.
     
  3. Mar 31, 2019 #263

    strange-steve

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    Well there you go, shows what I know and why I'll never be a BJCP judge :oops:
    That's really interesting, and further proof that perhaps I've been rather unfair towards MJ, but it's cool to have my expectations shattered like that clapa
    I've never used 3726 but looking at the profile on the Wyeast site it mentions earthy notes, I wonder if that's what I was picking up.

    It's been a couple of years since I've had a TK so I couldn't comment on similarity, but obviously you're right that in a yeast driven style like this that yeast selection will make a big difference.

    Thanks for the recipe and details, interesting reading and this batch of swaps has been an eye opening experience for me so thanks for that :hat:

    I'm out of the country for the next week so I'll get a bottle posted out to you when I get back.
     
  4. Mar 31, 2019 #264

    Zephyr259

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    Always good to challenge your biases. :-) That's fine as I'm away for the next while too.
     
  5. Apr 12, 2019 #265

    strange-steve

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    Tonight I'm drinking a Porter sent by @Hoddy, and since the first one went awol in the post I'm grateful to him for sending another...

    Aroma
    Sweet chocolate primarily with hints of smooth coffee. Also some dark fruit aromas coming through, it smells very inviting.

    Appearance
    Very dark with beautiful ruby highlights when held to the light. A fantastic thick and creamy tan head with excellent retention all the way down the glass.

    Flavour
    Really rich roasted malt flavours of black coffee, with an interesting bittersweet impression, blending hints of milk chocolate and caramel sweetness with a pronounced bitterness in the finish, almost like drinking a dark roast espresso. Some pleasant fruitiness from the yeast character adds to the complexity too. Perhaps a little hint of alcohol in the finish.

    Overall Impression
    This is a really great porter, rich, complex and roasty with tons of flavour, each mouthful revealing more layers. The mouthfeel is great, I'm thinking there's a good bit of flaked oats or something similar in there? I'm also curious about your yeast, it's noticable without being too forward, I often use a clean yeast for porters and stouts but this works much better actually. It seems like there's a big hop addition in there which again adds to the flavour complexity and it nicely balances out the sweetness, giving a lingering bitterness in the finish. My only criticism would be that it's a little over carbonated for my taste, but I consistently get told my beers are under carbed, so I think that's just my personal preference and only a minor point really. I find that I'm often disappointed with porters, they can be great when done right but all too often they're thin, bland, lacking in complexity. But that's certainly not the case here, this is a lovely beer, well thought out and well made so I appreciate you sending this one mate :hat:

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Apr 15, 2019 #266

    Hoddy

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    Hey Steve, thanks for the kind words. You are right tho. Porters for me have always mostly been thin, insipid and bland. Hence why I embarked on a journey to make one as good as I possibly could. This beer has been a labour of love since I started brewing about 5/6 years ago. And I do think it’s now getting to where I want it to be.

    Spoiler alert : the yeast is wyeast London ale III. I had tried quite a few different yeasts and this one I’ve found gives the smoothest finish and gentle character. Especially with all the dark malts involved, it does give it a little something extra than a S04 or a US05 could give. But well spotted on the yeast. My view is that in these sorts of beers actually getting the yeast character right is really important. Opposite to the view that because the malt character is so strong the yeast is less important. So that and the rauch malt it does just kind of all come up together.

    The hops used are a mix of brawling X and Pacific jade. In this beer I actually upped the dry hop and put in twice the normal amount of Pacific jade which I think has lifted the beer. I’m a big fan if Pacific jade.

    You are right though that this beer is over carbonated. I’ve really struggled with getting dark beer carbonation right. There defo seems to be a propensity for dark beers to hold carb more than lighter beers. Even with equal amounts of oats/flaked wheat. Either way I like my porter with a good carb, this one does need a bit to chill out after pouring.

    Glad you like it
     
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  7. Apr 16, 2019 #267

    strange-steve

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    Ah right London III, that's a clever choice and I might steal that idea for my next porter :hat:

    Rauch malt you say, that's interesting. I didn't pick up on the smokiness, but there is a lovely deep roasty flavour which I had assumed was just from the dark grains. I can see how it would add a nice layer of complexity when used in smaller amounts.
     
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  8. Apr 16, 2019 #268

    Hoddy

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    Yeah it’s all about getting that depth in that type of beer. And even though it’s a smoked malt with all the other dark grains it does add something.
     
  9. Jun 12, 2019 #269

    strange-steve

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    It's been a while since I've done one of these but I've been sitting on an 80/- brewed by @Zephyr259, fermented with Saure kveik and decided to crack it open tonight.

    Aroma
    Dark crystal malt aromas of toffee and treacle, lightly toasty, fruity with hints of dates and raisins, a slight sharpness from the carbonation and some yeasty esters.

    Appearance
    Dark reddish brown, a very nice colour although quite murky. Fairly high carbonation which I think stirred up the sediment. Nice creamy head with excellent retention.

    Flavour
    Lovely malt forward flavours along the same lines as the aroma, caramel and toffee with rich, complex, toasty malt flavours. Dark fruits predominantly from the malt but I think there's some yeasty fruity esters there too. A little earthy/spicy hop flavour lingering in the palate with perfectly balanced bitterness.

    Overall Impression
    The first thing that hit me with this was the mouthfeel. Even with the carbonation being quite high it's incredibly full bodied with an almost oily texture which just coats the palate. Are you doing any water treatment? I have a feeling there's a load of chloride in the water for this? Anyway this is a fantastic beer. The malt flavours are complex without being muddy or overly sweet, and the yeast derived flavours are subtle enough to allow the malt to shine through. I attempted to brew this style recently and it was a miserable failure, especially by comparison. My only slight nag would be that it's a little over carbed for my taste, but it didn't really detract much from my enjoyment. This is the kind of beer that would be perfect from a beer engine and I'd be more than happy to be served this on cask in a pub. Brilliant job mate, thanks for sending this :hat:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Jun 13, 2019 #270

    Zephyr259

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    Thanks for the very positive feedback, the other bottle that was sent out got yeast in the neck in transit so gushed and poured very yeasty and funky. My kveik's tend to carbonate a bit more than expected even when the gravity has been steady a couple of days. I've managed to pour this one clear, but the sediment often lifts a bit, it's flocculant enough that it normally settles out in the glass again after a couple of minutes, didn't cold crash, will try that next time.

    The yeast character was quite funky to start with but is calming down now (3 months since brewing), it has over carbed a bit as i was aiming for 2 vol. I treat all my beers since my water is really soft, I tend to use a Bru'n Water profile then boost calcium to 100 mg/L ish while maintaining sulphate to chloride ratio, this was brown full.

    Ca - 106, Mg - 2, Na - 71, SO4 - 97, Cl - 119, HCO3 - 225. So not a huge amount of Cl I don't think, I've added more in other beers and they've been extremely malty to the point of not being as drinkable as they could be if they were a bit crisper. I added the bicarb as half sodium and half potassium to keep the sodium level from getting too high, and the sodium would also be helping to soften the beer.

    The recipe is @JonBrew's but with the specific malts swapped to what I had on hand.

    77% Golden Promise, 12% CaraBelge, 6% Extra Dark Crystal (Crisp), 4% Amber (Crisp), 1% Carafa Special I giving 1.052 OG - 1.013 FG (5.1%), bittered to 21 IBU with Admiral at 60 min. I scaled John's recipe up from 4% to 5% as I wanted a slightly stronger brew this time.

    Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the feedback, I wasn't overly sure what to make of it.
     
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  11. Jun 13, 2019 #271

    strange-steve

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    No not a lot of chloride at all actually, although as you say the fairly high sodium probably helps. I wonder too if the yeast strain adds some slickness to the mouthfeel through glycerol production à la Wy3711. Have you used it for any other beers?

    I really enjoyed it, a lovely full flavoured but drinkable beer athumb..
     
  12. Jun 13, 2019 #272

    Zephyr259

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    That's the only brew with it thus far, but I was wondering if it would make a nice Belgian quad style beer.
     
  13. Nov 12, 2019 #273

    strange-steve

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    This is the first review I've done in quite a while but it's a Belgian Tripel, a style I really enjoy so I'm looking forward to it. This one was kindly sent by @Markgee...

    Aroma
    Very fruity, pears and apples, gentle yeast spiciness and a hint of alcohol. Some bready malts coming through as it warmed slightly. This smells really good, lots of similarities to Westmalle.

    Appearance
    Perhaps slightly darker than some tripels but a nice amber colour. A bit of haze but I think that was due to my bad pouring.

    Flavour
    Lots of complexity here, primarily malt forward with bready pils and something more "Munich-like" coming through also adding more malt layers, which is pleasantly surprising considering this is a SMaSH beer. Fairly clean fermentation flavours, just subtle hints of farmhouse style phenols, and the fruitiness is more subdued than in the aroma. A nice little warming alcohol kick in the finish.

    Overall Impression
    This was a very nice beer, although I think if I hadn't known I might have guessed this was a biere de garde rather than a saison. That's not a negative btw, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps the yeast character and slight fruitiness is responsible for that. Curious what yeast you used? Nicely balanced, not too sweet and the bitterness is spot on for my taste. I think to be more stylistically accurate a more phenolic yeast and a bigger dose of aroma hops would do the job, but honestly I'm not overly concerned at style as long as the beer is good, which it is. Thanks for sending this mate :hat:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Nov 13, 2019 #274

    Markgee

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    Thanks for the review Steve. I had a nightmare the day I brewed this and everything that could of gone wrong did but somehow, it turned out relatively ok athumb..

    This beer is intended to be my perfect Tripel so not completely traditional. I only used cascade hops in this but next time I'm going to use one or two others. It's slightly sweeter than I intended but still drinkable. My Belgian friends tell me that you must let the Tripel rest for 2-3 months before drinking....this is 3 weeks old.....but where's the fun in waiting :laugh8:

    Thanks again Steve!

    P.s it looks very dark in the photo but it's definitely more golden in the flesh!
     
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  15. Nov 14, 2019 #275

    strange-steve

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    Tonight's beer is one that was sent to me a few months back when I judged the forum competition. @brewhaha kindly sent me 2 bottles of his Rhubarb Berliner Weisse, one to be judged and one to be kept for a later date, so here we go...

    Aroma
    Earthy and tangy rhubarb comes through really nicely in the aroma, otherwise very clean and subtle.

    Appearance
    A really pretty beer, a nice straw colour with a thin white head and beautifully clear.

    Flavour
    The fruitiness from the rhubarb is the initial flavour, giving that distinctive earthy flavour which I really like. The sourness is relatively subtle compared to some beers in this style, but the rhubarb does add a nice little tang which is really refreshing. A slight hint of hop bitterness in the finish which adds an interesting dryness, but it's not too much that it clashes with the acidity. Again very clean, nothing in the way of fermentation character or off-flavours.

    Overall Impression
    Rhubarb is one of those flavours that isn't to everyone's taste, but I love a bit of rhubarb so this is my kind of beer. Personally I tend to like a bit more sourness in a weisse, there is some tanginess to it but it feels like it's mostly coming from the rhubarb more than lactic sourness. I think that removes some layers of complexity which usually come from the souring process, however it still works really well and is such a clean, refreshing, fruity beer that it'd be perfect on a hot summer day in the garden. I think you got the fruit addition balanced perfectly and your fermentation spot on. A tad more carbonation might be nice but that's just my taste. I really loved this actually, it's considerably better than any of my efforts at a fruit beer and it went down very quickly. Thanks for sending this mate :hat:

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Nov 15, 2019 #276

    brewhaha

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    Wow, thanks so much Steve & glad you liked it.

    I too wish I'd upped the carbonation & been a tad braver with the souring. I'll make sure I do both with next year's crop!
     
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  17. Nov 15, 2019 #277

    An Ankoù

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    Not a great fan of fruit and veg in my beer- I even baulk at putting vanilla pods in my milds and stouts, but this has got me interested. I use my rhubarb to make "elderflower champagne" and I can imagine it might give a subtle twang to to a beer, too. So when it comes to next year's crop, count me in, too.
     
  18. Nov 16, 2019 #278

    Cheshire Cat

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    I use it for rhubarb gin which is lovely.
     
  19. Nov 26, 2019 #279

    strange-steve

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    Tonight's beer is the first of two kindly sent by @Hopsteep called No. 13 Pale...

    Aroma
    Intensely fruity hops, particularly mango, but also pineapple, orange, and strawberry coming through. Like a punch in the face with a fistful of hops, really delicious.

    Appearance
    Not the prettiest colour, a browny amber, but a lovely fluffy white head which lasted all the way down.

    Flavour
    A good depth of flavour from the hops, a nice resinous quality with citrusy flavours initially which gives way to a dryness which nicely compliments the fairly high level of bitterness, leaving a grapefruit-like impression on the palate. Very clean and crisp flavours, no noticeable off-flavours indicating a good fermentation.

    Overall Impression
    In general in not really a fan of session strength pales/IPAs, I tend to find them a bit flat, lacking any real depth. This one though is quite deceiving, even though it's only 4.6% it drinks like a considerably stronger beer. It doesn't have the watery-ness or the sudden flavour drop-off that I find in many sub 5% IPAs. And it's not because there's a load of malt flavours, there's not, it's totally hop forward as it should be, and it's light but not too light. I think it's well balanced, and the hop aroma is truly wonderful. A well brewed beer, good job mate and I'm looking forward to the next one :hat:

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Nov 27, 2019 #280

    Hopsteep

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    Thanks for the review, much appreciated. I’m amazed by the colour- this beer kicked in my bar yesterday (it was light in colour with a slight haze). I suspect it’s been oxidised during its travels! I’ve looked at the colour of the few bottles I have left in the garage and they are a nice light colour. I think this proves that the theory of beers consuming any oxygen in the bottle during secondary fermentation to be false ashock1

    Thankfully the hop flavour carried through. I think a counter pressure bottle filler is now on my list of things to buy :coat:
     

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