Strange-steve's Homebrew Reviews

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strange-steve

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Tonight's offering is a 6.7% Export Stout, the first of two kindly sent by @SteveH...

Aroma
Richly roasty with earthy coffee, sweet dark chocolate, bread crusts, and a touch of fruitiness. Lovely stuff.

Appearance
Deep black with brown highlights when held to the light and a thin white head which faded quickly. A nice light carbonation level.

Flavour
A little hint of sweetness initially but that quickly fades into a complex of roasted malt flavours, particularly espresso coffee which blends with a touch of alcohol to give an interesting Tia Maria coffee liqueur impression. Hints of burnt toast and bread crusts making me think of brown or amber malts as well as the obvious black malt/roasted barley character. Also earthy flavours of cacao nibs, a slight tang, and just a touch of fruitiness (at first I thought this was from the yeast, perhaps something along the lines of S04, but the more I drank the less I noticed it, perhaps it was just from the malts?) The finish is long and dry with a high level of bitterness, no doubt enhanced by the dark malts.

Overall Impression
This is quite simply another great stout. The balance is about spot on I'd say for the style, definitely more towards the bitter end of the spectrum, but the fleeting hint of initial sweetness is very welcome. Mouthfeel is smooth without being heavy and the low carbonation is perfect for me. There's just a touch of alcohol flavour but very smooth and perfect for a winter's evening. Other than the fact that the head vanished pretty quickly I really can't fault this. There are no off-flavours as far as I can tell and the recipe seems to be well judged. It's a great example of the style and a real pleasure to drink so many thanks for sending it. Looking forward to the next one :hat:

 

SteveH

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Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the review! acheers.

I'll check my notes tomorrow but it's a boundary export stout recipe (from the camra book), and iirc it was S-04 yeast! :hat:

If I do this again I'll probably use a different yeast but overall pretty happy with how it turned out.
 

strange-steve

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Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the review! acheers.

I'll check my notes tomorrow but it's a boundary export stout recipe (from the camra book), and iirc it was S-04 yeast! :hat:

If I do this again I'll probably use a different yeast but overall pretty happy with how it turned out.
I very much enjoyed it thank you. Boundary is probably the closest brewery to me but I've never had any of their beers, so it's interesting that it's one of their recipes. BTW I recently bottled an English Red IPA (not sure if that's a real style or not) which I'm pleased with if that takes your fancy?
 

SteveH

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I very much enjoyed it thank you. Boundary is probably the closest brewery to me but I've never had any of their beers, so it's interesting that it's one of their recipes. BTW I recently bottled an English Red IPA (not sure if that's a real style or not) which I'm pleased with if that takes your fancy?
Sounds great, I've actually got a batch inspired by your recipe in the fermenter now (same hops but different malts), would be very interesting to compare them! acheers.
 

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Tonight's beer is the first of 2 kindly sent by @Alastair70 and all I know is that the bottle says Druncle Stephen Weihenstephan Dunkle(ish) and it's 5.6%. I love a good dunkelweizen so looking forward to this...

Aroma
Dark fruitiness from the malts along with a nice blend of bananary and spicy yeast aromatics, leaning more towards the phenols than the esters, and a slight tartness.

Appearance
Perhaps a touch lighter in colour than expected for a dunkelweizen, presumably that's what the "ish" in the name means, but a nice copper colour with the typical wheat haze. Highly carbed as it should be and poured with a lovely white head with great retention.

Flavour
Very much yeast dominated as expected, packing quite a phenolic punch up front which quickly mellows into a mild fruitiness, with a soft bready, and just a hint of toasty, malt finish.

Overall Impression
One of the things I love about a weissbier, especially the dunkel version, is the complexity of flavours, and this certainly has that. There are layers of flavours which hit the palate one after the other with every sip, from the spice, to the fruit, to the bready malts. I think I'm in the minority, but personally I prefer a dunkel to be more balanced towards the banana, I feel it blends a little better with the fuller malt flavours. I'm curious about your yeast choice also, because I'm finding the phenolics to be just a little off, they seem to have gone beyond clove into a slight medicinal flavour. I'm not sure if this is a yeast/fermentation issue or something else, (wild yeast/chlorophenol/water) but it does slightly diminish the enjoyment of the beer. It doesn't ruin it completely though, I did enjoy this overall and I think your recipe is a good one however perhaps a slight refinement would make it great. Thanks for sending this mate :hat:
 

Alastair70

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Thanks for the positive feed back Steve. The yeast was Wyeast 3068. I had an issue with the started that lead to a slower fermentation than I expected, I suspect the off flavour is down to yeast stress. Next iteration of the recipe will have more darker grains to increase the colour and malt flavour.
I’m enjoying drinking it, and a mini keg went down very well at a party last month. Glad you enjoyed it too. athumb..
 

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I'm getting an early start on the beers today so this is the second of @Alastair70's beers, a 5.2% oatmeal stout called El Capitan...

Aroma
The aroma wad quite subtle initially, I perhaps served it a little cold, but as it warmed it had smooth roasted malts with dark caramel and just a touch of malty fruitiness, clean fermentation. Very nice.

Appearance
Was highly carbed so poured with a huge tan head but settled down very quickly. Deep reddish brown colour when held to the light and great clarity.

Flavour
Lovely complex layers of caramel and roasted malts with a rich almost savoury nutty dark chocolate flavour which is mellowed by a touch of residual sweetness, leaving a rather delicious bittersweet finish which has just the right balance. Reasonably clean fermentation profile.

Overall Impression
This is a bold beer, it really doesn't disappoint when it comes to flavour. There's an awful lot going on but it doesn't come across as muddy at all, everything is nicely balanced. The slight sweetness I'd expect for the style is there, but the bitterness (both hop and roasted malts) is just right so that it's not overly sweet. I think you've captured the slick, full body that is the oatmeal stout's signature very well, and I really can't fault your recipe or technique. If I'm really looking for something to critique it would be that the carbonation was a touch high for my taste, although this is just my preference. Also the head disappeared pretty quickly, which for me is just a very minor point, and contrary to popular belief this is actually quite common in beers with a high percentage of oats. But I'm looking for flaws here because I honestly thought this was a really great stout and I would have happily drank a few more of these. Many thanks for sending both the beers Alastair :hat:

 
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Alastair70

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Thanks again for the great feedback. I totally agree with the carbonation, I found some Coppers Carbonation drops and used them instead of batch priming. This was my first go at a stout, I was going to try adding chocolate and possibly chilli next time round, but after drinking it, I think I’ll just leave it as is, and batch prime to 2atm.
 

strange-steve

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Thanks again for the great feedback. I totally agree with the carbonation, I found some Coppers Carbonation drops and used them instead of batch priming. This was my first go at a stout, I was going to try adding chocolate and possibly chilli next time round, but after drinking it, I think I’ll just leave it as is, and batch prime to 2atm.
Any chance of a look at the recipe out of curiosity?
 

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Tonight's beer is one that I've had for a while, an Orange Brett IPA sent by @SteveH. Being a brett beer I didn't want to rush it and it was only brewed in December, which isn't a long time for brett, but couldn't wait any longer :D ...

Aroma
Distinctive fruity brett aroma, citrusy and slightly smokey. Delicious.

Appearance
Lovely golden yellow colour, hazy with a thin white head which dissipated quickly. Carbonation is a tad low for the style but doesn't detract too much.

Flavour
Much like the aroma, initially very fruity with typical brett esters, pineapple and grapefruit flavours followed by a bitter and dry finish with a bit of funk but actually quite clean. Not as leathery-dry as some brett beers I've had. The orange is subtle but it does come through with a nice little tang in the finish. There's something else that I can't quite place in the finish, I wondered if it was from the primary yeast, but being an IPA I'm guessing you used US05 or similar?

Overall Impression
I'm a sucker for a brett beer, I have one in the FV right now (and a couple more planned) and if it turns out as good as this I'll be well pleased. There's just something magical that happens when brett is added to a beer, creating a complex flavour profile that can convert even a dull base beer into something special. And I don't think this beer was at all dull before hand, I have no doubt this was a lovely fruity IPA so really that just makes it doubly good. It would have been interesting to sample this beer over several months to see how it changed, as the late hop character faded and the brett became more prominent. Brett works beautifully with hops (as Orval proves), the crisp, dry finish it creates blends really well with the hop bitterness to create a refreshing and moreish beer that would be a fantastic summer quencher. The orange flavour is subtle (how was it added btw?), but it blends well with the fruity esters and the bitterness creating a pleasant grapefruit effect. I think this is a great recipe, very nicely balanced all round and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the glass was empty much too soon. Thanks for sending this mate :hat:

 

SteveH

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Thanks for the detailed review @strange-steve - glad that you enjoyed it! acheers.

The recipe is in this thread - the Orange was added via Mamade tinned seville orange pulp (supposed to be used for making marmalade), combined with Mandarina Bavaria and Cascade hops.

The yeast was CML "Pia" which I think is supposed to be fairly clean, but this is the first/only time I've used it - I suspect the flavor you couldn't place comes from the orange pulp - in the base beer I found it added a somewhat astringent aftertaste initially, this mellowed after a while, and then the brett secondary further mellowed it, but I think that hint of orange bitterness still persisted.

I've actually got a half-corny of the base beer still full, need to get around to trying that again. Wish I'd bretted more than a gallon now as I preferred the brett version :beer1:
 

samale

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Thanks for the detailed review @strange-steve - glad that you enjoyed it! acheers.

The recipe is in this thread - the Orange was added via Mamade tinned seville orange pulp (supposed to be used for making marmalade), combined with Mandarina Bavaria and Cascade hops.

The yeast was CML "Pia" which I think is supposed to be fairly clean, but this is the first/only time I've used it - I suspect the flavor you couldn't place comes from the orange pulp - in the base beer I found it added a somewhat astringent aftertaste initially, this mellowed after a while, and then the brett secondary further mellowed it, but I think that hint of orange bitterness still persisted.

I've actually got a half-corny of the base beer still full, need to get around to trying that again. Wish I'd bretted more than a gallon now as I preferred the brett version :beer1:
Was looking at doing a brett pale ale. What yeast did you use.
 

SteveH

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Was looking at doing a brett pale ale. What yeast did you use.
The primary was done with CML Pia, then I took a gallon and pitched a vial of WLP 650 along with some Orval dregs and left that to secondary for approx 2 months before bottling.
 

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I've actually got a half-corny of the base beer still full, need to get around to trying that again. Wish I'd bretted more than a gallon now as I preferred the brett version
Mmm brett makes everything better. My brett Belgian pale will be ready to bottle soon (I'll try to remember to send you one of those) then I have a foreign stout planned which will be bretted too.
 

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Mmm brett makes everything better. My brett Belgian pale will be ready to bottle soon (I'll try to remember to send you one of those) then I have a foreign stout planned which will be bretted too.
Do you have to add fresh yeast when you bottle it or can you just prime as normal
 

strange-steve

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Tonight I'm drinking a Belgian Quad courtesy of @Oneflewover. This happens to be my favourite style of beer so can't wait to try it...

Aroma
Dark malty fruitiness of raisins and plums with syrupy brown sugar, a little hint of spice, and just a touch of alcohol. This smells really great.

Appearance
It really looks the part, poured with a lovely dense foam that you often see with commercial Belgian beers and a very pretty deep red colour.

Flavour
Many complex malt flavours, really fruity (both from the fermentables and the yeast esters) which is enhanced by the sweetness, with some toasty maillard flavours and lovely caramelised sugar. Did you make your own candy syrup for this? The "Belgian spiciness" is quite subtle and there is a little hint of marzipan which makes me think of WLP540? The alcohol is very smooth for a +9% beer and there are no obvious yeasty off-flavours suggesting a healthy fermentation.

Overall Impression
The key to getting this style right is all about the yeast and fermentation. Getting the right yeast derived flavours while managing alcohol flavours isn't easy but I think you've nailed it because this is really damn good. I've had many home-brewed quadrupels over the years and this is undoubtedly up there with the best of them. Stylistically it is too sweet, as you mentioned to me, which would certainly knock it down a bit in a BJCP competition, but I don't really care about style and I don't mind a sweet beer so I really loved it. It''ll be really interesting to see how your bretted version turns out, and I have a feeling it'll be pretty darn spectacular. Another really impressive aspect of this is the carbonation. I've never been able to get that typical Belgian foamy quality on the palate without over-carbing, but you've managed it and it really adds to the drinking experience. I've been proud to win a couple of gold medals with two different quadrupel recipes, but honestly they were nowhere near this good so I'm going to need to see your recipe :D Thanks for sending this, but I wish you'd sent two :laugh8:
 
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