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After a pleasant days work in Dublin and a 2hr drive home, it’s far too sunny not to sit out with an Irish Red Ale. Cheers

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Had a mate round yesterday evening, for a first proper tasting of the beers I kegged back in April: London Bitter (5.3%), Witbier (5.1%), Dubbel (6.8%) and Bière de Garde (7.2%)
Let's just say I'm taking things steady today wink...

We had a couple of commercial bottles for comparison: really interesting and something I'd recommend - I think it's easy to be too critical of your own brews.
OK they weren't really direct comparisons, but we tried the London Bitter against Old Hooky and the Belgian-style ones against the lovely La Chouffe.

I was looking forward to the Old Hooky because I haven't had it for years - but it was seemed 'thin' and terribly fizzy. Is it my imagination, or did it used to be stronger than 4.6%? I'm sure that when I used to drink this in the Cotswold pubs it was quite malty, but this certainly wasn't. Maybe it's different in bottles. Interestingly it also had the same aftertaste that I thought was a fault in my beer, so I think I can relax about that now.

After sampling my Belgians we cracked open the La Chouffe, no complaints about that - what a great little beer athumb... What pleased me most though was that mine had a similar "Belgian" character to it - perhaps it's down to the Dingemans malt? Either way, really happy with the results.

We finished on the Bière de Garde - no comparator for that and as it's the first time I've used Saison yeast I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Earlier samples had tasted pretty rough and ready but it now seems nice and smooth with a distinctive bone-dry finish: dangerously drinkable, and we had a couple of (small!) glasses of that before deciding we'd better quit while we were ahead!

No photos from last night but here's the empties acheers.

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You're right about the over critical. But I've come to realise that in a lot of cases I prefer my stuff to commercial.

Interesting about using Saison yeast in the BdG. I knew that was a choice but I went for 34/70. Looking forward to trying it (them, I made all three variants) later in the year.
 
Is water chemistry more important in bigger batch brewing? When I was doing 23l batches I never had a problem making hoppy pale ales. Since I've upgraded to a 65l system my beers are all over place from too bitter to undrinkable. Don't think I've made 1 good beer on my 65l system and it's starting to p!$$ me off a bit. Been monitoring my mash ph and it starts creeping up after sparge so tried a no sparge and that worked but then after boil its up at 6.4 to 7.0 ph (is this normal) I've Ordered some phosphoric acid and a new ph meter see how it goes. Gone back to my 30l klarstein inbetween these dodgy batches and made probably 1 of my best beers, so I'm stumped.
 

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