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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

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.

View attachment 100070

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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