Strange-steve's Homebrew Reviews

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Today I'm finally getting the chance to try what has become a bit of a forum legend, @Hazelwood Brewery's Summer Breeze IPA. I've been reading about this for a while now so pleased to get the chance to try it...

Aroma
On opening I was immediately hit with a noseful of ripe mango which was lovely, also with notes of passionfruit, lemon, and grapefruit. Tropical and delicious as I'd expect from the hop bill. Also just a faint sweet, biscuity aroma.

Appearance
Deep golden colour with a bit of haze (probably my fault for being impatient and not letting it settle), a great fluffy white head which stuck around the whole way down. (Note it's nowhere near as dull as it appears in the pic below!)

Flavour
As expected lots of citrus fruitiness up front which, along with the sturdy (but not overpowering) bitterness, gives a lemon pith and grapefruit impression. A light and crisp finish, very clean indeed, with just a hint of nutty, biscuity malts coming through which gives an interesting counterpoint to the fresh hoppiness. The malts came through more prominently as the beer warmed.

Overall Impression
In short I would say this is simply a well made West Coast style IPA. It has everything you want from the style, from the punchy, fruity, citrusy hops, to the clean, refreshing bitterness, and dry finish that leaves you wanting more. What I really like about this though is that you haven't ignored the malt bill as often we do with this type of beer. You’ve used Vienna malt (have you used Vienna for all the base malt or just a portion?) which gives a bit more depth of flavour, kind of like you might get in an English IPA. Personally I really don't like one-dimensional IPAs that are all hops and nothing else (session IPA as a style can go fornicate itself as far as I'm concerned). I suspect also that, although this has a lovely hoppiness, you haven't gone too mad with the hops. It is balanced nicely without feeling like you're drinking hop juice, and not being the biggest hop head myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only issue I had with it was that it was a bit overcarbed. It has that mouth-filling carbonation you get in a Belgian pale or the like, which I have a feeling lightened the body a bit more than you'd want. That being said, I think you probably normal serve this from a PB which I reckon would suit it beautifully, so ignore this comment! Anyway thanks for sending this mate, I'm glad to finally have tried it and I wasn't disappointed. Look forward to the next :hat:
QpAWnDd.jpg
So I have to disagree a little here, only with the West coast ipa description. I feel like this is a new kind of style where west coast meets east coast IPA. Almost like a West coast IPA malt bill with fruity hops. I'm going to start calling it a new IPA or something like it, but I think it's kind of where IPA's will end up going in the future. It is a great review though that is spot on, and I do really enjoy reading your perspective.
 
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Today I'm finally getting the chance to try what has become a bit of a forum legend, @Hazelwood Brewery's Summer Breeze IPA. I've been reading about this for a while now so pleased to get the chance to try it...

Aroma
On opening I was immediately hit with a noseful of ripe mango which was lovely, also with notes of passionfruit, lemon, and grapefruit. Tropical and delicious as I'd expect from the hop bill. Also just a faint sweet, biscuity aroma.

Appearance
Deep golden colour with a bit of haze (probably my fault for being impatient and not letting it settle), a great fluffy white head which stuck around the whole way down. (Note it's nowhere near as dull as it appears in the pic below!)

Flavour
As expected lots of citrus fruitiness up front which, along with the sturdy (but not overpowering) bitterness, gives a lemon pith and grapefruit impression. A light and crisp finish, very clean indeed, with just a hint of nutty, biscuity malts coming through which gives an interesting counterpoint to the fresh hoppiness. The malts came through more prominently as the beer warmed.

Overall Impression
In short I would say this is simply a well made West Coast style IPA. It has everything you want from the style, from the punchy, fruity, citrusy hops, to the clean, refreshing bitterness, and dry finish that leaves you wanting more. What I really like about this though is that you haven't ignored the malt bill as often we do with this type of beer. You’ve used Vienna malt (have you used Vienna for all the base malt or just a portion?) which gives a bit more depth of flavour, kind of like you might get in an English IPA. Personally I really don't like one-dimensional IPAs that are all hops and nothing else (session IPA as a style can go fornicate itself as far as I'm concerned). I suspect also that, although this has a lovely hoppiness, you haven't gone too mad with the hops. It is balanced nicely without feeling like you're drinking hop juice, and not being the biggest hop head myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only issue I had with it was that it was a bit overcarbed. It has that mouth-filling carbonation you get in a Belgian pale or the like, which I have a feeling lightened the body a bit more than you'd want. That being said, I think you probably normal serve this from a PB which I reckon would suit it beautifully, so ignore this comment! Anyway thanks for sending this mate, I'm glad to finally have tried it and I wasn't disappointed. Look forward to the next :hat:
QpAWnDd.jpg

Thanks for taking the time to do a review Steve, I wasn’t expecting you to go to all that trouble!

Yes, Vienna is the base malt (85%) with a little oats for mouthfeel and wheat for head retention.

There are lots of hops but like you, I do enjoy a malty backbone.

You’re right about the carbonation, I force carbed it so I could get it to you sooner! You should have whipped it up a little to knock some of the gas out ;)
 

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I've been very kindly sent a few beers by @samale, this is the first one, a Belgian IPA...

Aroma
Spicy orange up front which is a lovely combo, light bubblegum (I know the Belgians hate that descriptor but it just fits), and a slight nutty, earthiness. Fruity but I think this is mostly yeast derived rather than from hops. Maybe a touch of alcohol but it could be the yeast. Really interesting, almost festive aromatics.

Appearance
Great amber colour with quite a bit of haze (but it probably hasn't settled fully after delivery), thin head mostly dissipated but what was left clung nicely to the glass. (Again it's much lighter than it looks in the pic, I've seen medieval dungeons with better lighting than my kitchen.)

Flavour
Huge rich flavours, very complexly layered and actual quite difficult to pick apart. There's a nice little tang initially along with the typically Belgian combination of fruit and spice, again some orange coming through, but also an earthiness which lingers through the finish and is enhanced by the substantial bitterness. Malt flavours very much in the background here but come through as lightly nutty as the beer warmed.

Overall Impression
With a Belgian IPA there are typically two routes that are taken, the newer "Americanised" version which blends citrusy US hops with a Belgian pale ale, or the more "traditional" version which uses continental hops, essentially a Belgian pale with a load more hops bunged in à la Chouffe Houblon. I'm honestly not sure which this is. The orange I'm picking up makes me think of Amarillo hops but I think it's too subtle and that could likely be from the yeast, and overall I would say this drinks like just like a Belgian pale ale but with higher bitterness. In a way that's not a bad thing, it means the flavours work well together, but I suspect you've maybe used something noble but the yeast derived flavours/aromas might be overpowering the hop subtleties a bit (to be fair though, I'm not the best at picking out hops). It sounds like I'm being rather negative here but I don't mean to be, it's just hard to avoid judging "to style" and it's actually a style that's very difficult to get right in my opinion. But as a Belgian pale ale this works very well, and that's good enough for me. It went down very quickly and I enjoyed every drop. It was flavourful but also light and refreshing as a good Belgian beer should be so many thanks for sending this :hat:
GUe9jld.jpg
 
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Cheers Steve this is from my post

I am going to brew a Belgian pale ale tonight just working out a recipe. It's looking like
2.5kg pilsner
2 kg Vienna
250g biscuit
250g caramunich 2
300g sugar

Yeast will be WLP 530

I have 100g of saaz and 100g hallertau mittelfruh. I can use magnum to bitter if needed.

This beer was made up from what I had spare in stock. I originally called it a Belgian pale but because I used 200g of hops I was told it's an IPA. I blame @Pennine for that 😀
Over all I am more than happy with end result. Thank you again for the reviews
 

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I originally called it a Belgian pale but because I used 200g of hops I was told it's an IPA.
That reminds me of a time I was chatting to a BJCP judge and he told me that when categorising your beer you should do so solely on flavour and not on the recipe because the two things aren't as directly linked as we might expect. Obviously he was taking about competition entries, but I thought it was an interesting comment anyway.

That being said, 200g is more hops than I expected but then those varieties are relatively subtle. There was a lot going on flavour wise, but as I mentioned I struggled a little to pick out individual flavours and even that grain bill is more complex than I expected (I maybe served it a little cold at about 8° because it became more obvious as it warmed). But that's a sign that everything harmonised nicely and contributed to the "wall of flavour" effect. Overall a lovely beer though so thanks again thumb.

BTW what was your fermentation temperature?
 

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I'm off work today so a good excuse to sample @Hazelwood Brewery's Czech Pilsner, and more importantly to see if it deserved to beat my German pils in the Nov competition. I'll be impartial, promise...

Aroma
Lovely fresh herbal and lightly spicy hops, a slight carbonic bite but otherwise very clean.

Appearance
Very pale straw colour, a thin white head with good retention. A bit of yeast haze which was my fault from a bad pour (not on purpose, I swear).

Flavour
A very pleasant soft, bready, doughy pilsner malt profile with the beautiful and elegant saaz hops coming through nicely with a crisp spiciness. Very well judged bitterness, just balancing the sweetness enough to keep it refreshing. The bread crust flavour that lingers through the finish is delicious. Again a bit of carbonic acidity from the high carbonation. Just a hint of greenness, I reckon another couple of weeks conditioning will see a big improvement.

Overall Impression
Initially this was rather over carbonated for my taste. I know a lager is generally highly carbed but personally I don't like a lot of fizz, and I felt it was killing the malt flavours a little. So I took your advice from last time and whipped some of the fizz out of it. And wow the beer really came alive. Delicious. The delicate and beautiful pils malt and saaz combo is captured just wonderfully here with a lovely balance of flavours that are a classic for a reason. When people say they don't like lagers I can only assume they're basing that on flavourless US beers like Miller or Bud and that they've never tasted a properly made continental style lager like this, because it's superb. Exceptionally drinkable while having plenty of depth of flavour. It also reminds me just how good a simple recipe can be when executed properly. The fact that this such a young beer is noticeable to be honest, but it's subtle enough not to detract and in a couple of weeks this could be really special. Just out of curiosity, I saved the last little bit so I could compare side-by-side with my German pilsner. Yours definitely has more of the bready malt flavour and is considerably less bitter, and it really highlights the differences between saaz and hallertau, which I found very interesting. So did yours deserve to beat mine in the competition? Well put it this way, I was more sorry when yours was finished than mine, so as much as it pains me I have to admit that I agree with @MickDundee, yours is better. But only by 1 point...😋 Anyway thanks for another great beer :hat:
oQtXfmz.jpg
 
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I'm off work today so a good excuse to sample @Hazelwood Brewery's Czech Pilsner, and more importantly to see if it deserved to beat my German pils in the Nov competition. I'll be impartial, promise...

Aroma
Lovely fresh herbal and lightly spicy hops, a slight carbonic bite but otherwise very clean.

Appearance
Very pale straw colour, a thin white head with good retention. A bit of yeast haze which was my fault from a bad pour (not on purpose, I swear).

Flavour
A very pleasant soft, bready, doughy pilsner malt profile with the beautiful and elegant saaz hops coming through nicely with a crisp spiciness. Very well judged bitterness, just balancing the sweetness enough to keep it refreshing. The bread crust flavour that lingers through the finish is delicious. Again a bit of carbonic acidity from the high carbonation. Just a hint of greenness, I reckon another couple of weeks conditioning will see a big improvement.

Overall Impression
Initially this was rather over carbonated for my taste. I know a lager is generally highly carbed but personally I don't like a lot of fizz, and I felt it was killing the malt flavours a little. So I took your advice from last time and whipped some of the fizz out of it. And wow the beer really came alive. Delicious. The delicate and beautiful pils malt and saaz combo is captured just wonderfully here with a lovely balance of flavours that are a classic for a reason. When people say they don't like lagers I can only assume they're basing that on flavourless US beers like Miller or Bud and that they've never tasted a properly made continental style lager like this, because it's superb. Exceptionally drinkable while having plenty of depth of flavour. It also reminds me just how good a simple recipe can be when executed properly. The fact that this such a young beer is noticeable to be honest, but it's subtle enough not to detract and in a couple of weeks this could be really special. Just out of curiosity, I saved the last little bit so I could compare side-by-side with my German pilsner. Yours definitely has more of the bready malt flavour and is considerably less bitter, and it really highlights the differences between saaz and hallertau, which I found very interesting. So did yours deserve to beat mine in the competition? Well put it this way, I was more sorry when yours was finished than mine, so as much as it pains me I have to admit that I agree with @MickDundee, yours is better. But only by 1 point...😋 Anyway thanks for another great beer :hat:
oQtXfmz.jpg

Thanks Steve, nice review again. Your opening paragraph made me smile!

I have to say I also prefer lower levels of carbonation but gassy is what people seem to want (or is this just with those tasteless lagers?).

I’d offer you another one in a couple of weeks but by then I’ll have a Tripel, a Doppelbock, and a Russian Impy so you’re gonna have to choose - you can only get three in a box:confused.:
 

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Thanks Steve, nice review again. Your opening paragraph made me smile!

I have to say I also prefer lower levels of carbonation but gassy is what people seem to want (or is this just with those tasteless lagers?).

I’d offer you another one in a couple of weeks but by then I’ll have a Tripel, a Doppelbock, and a Russian Impy so you’re gonna have to choose - you can only get three in a box:confused.:
By then I'll also have a tripel so an exchange would be good thumb.
 

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Tonight I'm drinking another of the beers sent by @samale, this time a dark saison which I'm really looking forward to...

Aroma
Pleasantly surprised to find a brett funkiness to this, wasn't expecting a brett beer, also loads of sharp fruitiness of berries along with the biscuity, toasty malt aromas. Not typically saisony yet but very intriguing.

Appearance
A very dark brown colour with nice red highlights and great clarity when held to the light. Head settled quickly into a fine white ring.

Flavour
Very dry, toasty, almost savoury, maillard flavours that really pack a punch. There's a hint of ripe fruity sweetness just for an instant, and just a touch of acidity, but not what I expected from the aroma at all. Plenty of funky brett flavours that dominate the palate, probably disguising the peppery saison flavours. Not overly bitter but the extremely dry finish heightens it a little. A pleasant raw doughy flavour lingers through the finish (is this a no-boil beer per chance?)

Overall Impression
A couple of years ago as a little experiment I dosed a few litres of freshly fermented saison with some homemade sinamar in an attempt at making a black saison. It was undrinkably awful, the lot went down the drain and I never even considered a black saison again. So I was intrigued and a little worried when I saw that this wasn't just a dark amber saison variation but was almost black. But this beer was pleasantly surprising in a couple of ways. Firstly that it wasn't just drinkable but really very nice, and secondly I had no idea this was a bretted beer until I got the unmistakable barnyard funk. That's always a nice surprise. The flavours are very unusual, with the toasty malts, fruity yeasts, and really dry finish giving almost a breadcrust with jam impression. But without the sweetness. I know that sounds wierd but I don't really know how else to describe it! From the aroma I was expecting some sweet tartness like cranberry or something, but the flavour is quite different. I'm rambling a bit now but this is such an unusual beer I'm struggling to describe it. The saison character doesn't really come through much, but that seems fairly typical of brett beers, I believe many of the primary yeast products are converted by the brett into the funk we know and love. But I enjoyed drinking it and appreciate the chance to try this. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on this as the brewer? Is it as you expected/aimed for? Anyway thank you for sending this, certainly an interesting brew :hat:
0MjnHFa.jpg
 
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Tonight I'm drinking another of the beers sent by @samale, this time a dark saison which I'm really looking forward to...

Aroma
Pleasantly surprised to find a brett funkiness to this, wasn't expecting a brett beer, also loads of sharp fruitiness of berries along with the biscuity, toasty malt aromas. Not typically saisony yet but very intriguing.

Appearance
A very dark brown colour with nice red highlights and great clarity when held to the light. Head settled quickly into a fine white ring.

Flavour
Very dry, toasty, almost savoury, maillard flavours that really pack a punch. There's a hint of ripe fruity sweetness just for an instant, and just a touch of acidity, but not what I expected from the aroma at all. Plenty of funky brett flavours that dominate the palate, probably disguising the peppery saison flavours. Not overly bitter but the extremely dry finish heightens it a little. A pleasant raw doughy flavour lingers through the finish (is this a no-boil beer per chance?)

Overall Impression
A couple of years ago as a little experiment I dosed a few litres of freshly fermented saison with some homemade sinamar in an attempt at making a black saison. It was undrinkably awful, the lot went down the drain and I never even considered a black saison again. So I was intrigued and a little worried when I saw that this wasn't just a dark amber saison variation but was almost black. But this beer was pleasantly surprising in a couple of ways. Firstly that it wasn't just drinkable but really very nice, and secondly I had no idea this was a bretted beer until I got the unmistakable barnyard funk. That's always a nice surprise. The flavours are very unusual, with the toasty malts, fruity yeasts, and really dry finish giving almost a breadcrust with jam impression. But without the sweetness. I know that sounds wierd but I don't really know how else to describe it! From the aroma I was expecting some sweet tartness like cranberry or something, but the flavour is quite different. I'm rambling a bit now but this is such an unusual beer I'm struggling to describe it. The saison character doesn't really come through much, but that seems fairly typical of brett beers, I believe many of the primary yeast products are converted by the brett into the funk we know and love. But I enjoyed drinking it and appreciate the chance to try this. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on this as the brewer? Is it as you expected/aimed for? Anyway thank you for sending this, certainly an interesting brew :hat:
0MjnHFa.jpg
Thank you Steve, this is my first attempt at brewing using Brett. The yeast was wlp670 Brett Saison yeast. After trying your Orval clone beer many months ago, I decide to try something new myself.
After a load of research online the dark winter Saison on the home brew association website caught my eye. WLP 670 was described as a good starting point to anyone looking to brew with Brett for the first time.
Over all I am very pleased with it, as for expectations I didn't have any.
This beer was also shared with @Pennine and @dave_77 .
I have another traditional Brett Saison in the fermentor using the same yeast.

Thank you for the review 👍
 

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Today I'm starting with @Hazelwood Brewery's Best Bitter, a style I have never quite managed to get right, so let's see how it should be done...

Aroma
Sweet, fruity toffee and caramel, hints of plum and a lovely grainy, nutty aroma, just lightly toasty. Really delicious.

Appearance
Dark copper/brown, poured with a lovely white head that settled to look like a proper cask beer. Very good clarity.

Flavour
Lots of crystal malt flavour initially, with a deep fruitiness of plums or prunes, and light caramel, but also a nice light biscuity flavour. A very English, earthy hop flavour that leads into the finish which is dry enough to cut through the crystal flavours, leaving a raw graininess on the palate.

Overall Impression
This is really very good. Once again I whisked just a little carbonation out of it (I hope you don't mind, it's just personal taste) and if I had been served this in a pub I would easily have believed it was a proper cask bitter. It has the drinkability factor that is essential to the style, while being satisfyingly flavourful. The base malt is showcased really well even with the crystal malts being quite prominent, and as it warmed a little the crystal bite softened leaving the lovely fruity, warming toffee flavours. Very well balanced overall, the hop flavour being quite subtle but adding to the complexity of flavour, and a perfect level of bitterness in the finish. I'm really impressed with this, probably one of the best homebrewed bitters I've tasted so I'm going to have to see your exact recipe and method for this one mate! This is sooo easy to drink, I'd happily get through several pint of this so thanks for sending it and we'll get a tripel swap organised as soon as I get mine bottled :hat:
6NUx6bB.jpg
 
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Today I'm starting with @Hazelwood Brewery's Best Bitter, a style I have never quite managed to get right, so let's see how it should be done...

Aroma
Sweet, fruity toffee and caramel, hints of plum and a lovely grainy, nutty aroma, just lightly toasty. Really delicious.

Appearance
Dark copper/brown, poured with a lovely white head that settled to look like a proper cask beer. Very good clarity.

Flavour
Lots of crystal malt flavour initially, with a deep fruitiness of plums or prunes, and light caramel, but also a nice light biscuity flavour. A very English, earthy hop flavour that leads into the finish which is dry enough to cut through the crystal flavours, leaving a raw graininess on the palate.

Overall Impression
This is really very good. Once again I whisked just a little carbonation out of it (I hope you don't mind, it's just personal taste) and if I had been served this in a pub I would easily have believed it was a proper cask bitter. It has the drinkability factor that is essential to the style, while being satisfyingly flavourful. The base malt is showcased really well even with the crystal malts being quite prominent, and as it warmed a little the crystal bite softened leaving the lovely fruity, warming toffee flavours. Very well balanced overall, the hop flavour being quite subtle but adding to the complexity of flavour, and a perfect level of bitterness in the finish. I'm really impressed with this, probably one of the best homebrewed bitters I've tasted so I'm going to have to see your exact recipe and method for this one mate! This is sooo easy to drink, I'd happily get through several pint of this so thanks for sending it and we'll get a tripel swap organised as soon as I get mine bottled :hat:
6NUx6bB.jpg

Thanks Steve for another nice review. :hat:

The beer needs a little more time to condition before it’s at it’s best but isn’t bad even now as you say.

I post all my recipes on my brewday post when I brew them, this one was listed in post #483.

You’re on for a Tripel swap. I also have a Doppelbock and a Weizen if you’re interested.
 

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