Showing posts with label experiments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experiments. Show all posts

Monday, September 24, 2018

What Impact Temperature?

While drinking the Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale used for last week's "Old Friends" post, I tweeted the following:



Having tweeted out this minor rantette, I decided that in the interests of science I would conduct a little experiment. Earlier that day I had purchased one of Sierra Nevada's Fall Packs, containing three bottles a piece of Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA, Vienna Lager, and Ruthless Rye IPA. I put a couple of bottles of Tumbler into the wine cooler, which sits at 54°F (12°C), and the third bottle in the fridge, at about 40°F (4.5°C), and there they remained for a week.

Yesterday I pulled the beers from their cool places in order to do a comparative tasting, though again in the interests of science I wanted to make sure that the same process was followed for both glasses of beer. As such I used the same US pint glass for both beers, washed between pints and allowed to settle back to room temperature. This decision was a sop to the kind of people that would claiming using different glasses would have impacted the aromas and flavours - I have done a mass experiment on this before and concluded that different glassware is largely irrelevant, other that parting a fool from his cash.

I also decided that I would leave an hour between drinks, and have a goodly amount of water to cleanse the old palate in order to avoid recency bias of the taste buds. First up then was the bottle that had been sat in the fridge.


The beer poured a rich chestnut brown, deeply luxuriant, and capped with a healthy half inch or so of dark ivory foam, too pale to be light brown, too dark to be plain ivory. The head just sat there, and sat there, and sat there, leaving a delicate lacing down the glass. The aromas coming through the head were lightly toasted bread, a bit of medium roast coffee, but mostly it was the smell of a pub carpet. I realise that sounds unappetising, but it is a smell that reminds me of going to the bar in the Sergeants' Mess when I was a kid, before dad would give us a stack of 10p pieces and tell us to bugger off to the pool room while the adults drank. The overwhelming taste was a nutty, medium dark chocolatey thing that was smooth with a roastiness that never bordered on the acrid, brought back in to focus with a clean hop bite. With the fridge beer thoroughly enjoyed, I cleaned out the glass and set it to one side for an hour.


After a hour of playing with my twin sons, and generally romping in domestic bliss, I came back to the experiment and poured the cellar temperature bottle of Tumbler into the now dry and room temperature glass. Again the beer was a rich chestnut brown, though as I poured there was a significantly bigger head, about an inch and a half, but it settled down to about the same half inch as previously, again lingering for the duration of the drinking, leaving a marginally more impressive lacing. The aroma was that of freshly baked bread, sprinkled with unsweetened cocoa powder, and a subtle floral hop thing going on. Missing entirely was the smell of a freshly opened boozer. This time the beer tasted of rich chocolate, with a light coffee roastiness, and the hop bite came with an earthy spiciness that didn't seem to be there in the fridge version.

This experiment was not about trying to prove that cellar temperature beer tastes better than refrigerated beer, but about the sensory differences induced by temperature. The colder beer had a smoother mouthfeel, as the hop bite evident in the cellar temperature version was missing almost completely. The cellar temperature had more pronounced malt flavours, not different, just deeper, and the body was fuller, perhaps rounder than the refrigerated one. One thing I wasn't really expecting was that the cellar temperature beer seems to have a more evident carbonation that the fridge one, which may explain the elevated hop character in that version. I wonder what impact being bottle conditioned had on the experiment, and perhaps I will perform the same experiment again with force carbonated beers.


One thing that was certainly clear from this experiment is that Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale is an excellent beer, and was perhaps just the right beer for this experiment on a dreich afternoon. In my excitement each year for the new Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, I have overlooked what was once my favourite autumn beer, what a foolish thing to do. Perhaps brown ales are once again due their moment in the limelight, preferably without silly shit and fripperies to keep the trendseekers happy, just good old fashioned brown ale, as brown ale should be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Need Glasses Mate

Friday was a day off, as I mentioned in my post that day. It was also the day that Whole Foods did a half price special on growler fills. Not wanting to get stuck in a queue I decided to get along early to fill a couple of my growlers with delights for the weekend, thus is was that I walked out with a couple of litres of Victory Prima Pils and Potter's Craft Cider. The Pils was bascially the best beer available, pretty much everything was "Belgian" or a beer with added "flavour" like apricot or cocoa, and Mrs Velkyal likes cider so I figured I's get her a treat, old romantic that I am.

I didn't originally have any special plans for the Pils, but whilst wandering around the shops yesterday I decided to do a taste comparison that I have been meaning to do for a while now, 1 beer, 6 glasses. From my cupboard I pulled an American pint glass, a nonic, a classic Chodovar Czech beer glass, a Chimay chalice, a snifter and my Lovibonds fluted half pint.


For some reason, people make a big song and dance about glassware, that certain types of glass are better for various beer styles, that beer should be served in the correctly branded glass and so on an so forth. Admittedly I am something of a glassware philistine, the only thing I object to is a frosted glass, it just shouldn't be done. Anyway, with an open mind and Mrs Velkyal saying that she thought the main difference would be in the aroma stakes, I spent a couple of hours emptying the growler into the various glasses in the pictures below and taking notes.







From a visual perspective the only variant in the 6 glasses was that the chalice didn't hold the head very well, the other 5 had nice rocky heads which lingered for the duration of drinking, but in the chalice it dissipated quickly.

As Mrs Velkyal had expected, the different glasses had an impact on the intensity of the aroma of the beer. In each glass, other again than the chalice, I could smell varying degrees of graininess, lemony citrus and grass, though it was most noticeable in the Lovibond's half pint and the Chodovar glasses. In terms of taste, there was hardly any noticeable difference between the glasses.

Purely on the basis of this experiment then, I would say that a slightly fluted glass, as both the Lovibond's and Chodovar glasses are is best suited to a German style pilsner, though I have to admit that in the context of drinking in a pub, I don't think the additional aroma would really be all that much of a big deal, and that is an important thing for me. When I am in the pub, playing pool, talking with friends and having a drink, I really don't care about identifying every trace of aroma, swirling my beer in a glass like some wine snob and pontificating on about traces of burnt gimp suit and strawberry, or whatever Jilly Goulden's latest taste sensation is.

Perhaps though a subtle, clean, crisp lager is the wrong beer for this kind of experiment? So I will re-hash it sometime with a nice stout, or maybe even an IPA such as the 100% Fuggle hopped one from St George Brewing. As it stands though I am still not convinced that different styles of glass make that much of a difference to the experience of drinking a beer, though as a marketing and brand tool they are superb.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Transatlantic Threesome

I awoke early on Saturday, as is my routine, but once the dog was walked, I immediately hopped in the car to buy water for brewing. I use purified drinking water for my beer and so I was at our local Food Lion right on opening time to buy 9 one gallon bottles for the brewing session that I had planned.


The seed for the brewing session was planted last May when I did a comparative tasting of two versions of my LimeLight witbier, one fermented with my usual 3944 Belgian Wit yeast, and the other with 3942 Belgian Wheat. Using the 3942 was a case of having to use what was readily available in order to meet a deadline, and the local homebrew shops not having any 3944. When I tasted the two versions, I was struck by the difference in colour, but from the comments that followed the post, it became clear that the age of the extract was the most likely cause of the differences. I thus hatched a plan.


My plan was really very simple, brew three batches of the beer in a single day and ferment with three different yeast strains. Thankfully LimeLight is an incredibly simple recipe, because it is the only beer I brew that gets all its fermentables from dry malt extract. The recipe for each 2.5 gallon batch was as follows:
  • 3lbs Muntons Wheat DME
  • 0.5oz 3.9% Saaz hops @ 60 minutes
  • 0.25oz 3.9% Saaz hops @ 15 minutes
  • 0.5oz fresh lime peel @ 15 minutes
  • 0.5oz cracked coriander seed @ 15 minutes
  • 0.15oz dried sweet orange peel @ 15 minutes
  • 0.25oz 3.9% Saaz hops @ 1 minute
The orange was a late addition to the recipe as I had forgotten that it was in the fridge and I won't be brewing with peel again until the autumn when I make my Christmas beer.

To ensure, as much as possible, consistency across the three batches, I made sure that I followed the extract same procedure for each. The DME was added to 1.5 gallons of water, while 1 gallon was chilled in advance and put into the fermenter when required. I had played with the idea of brewing a single batch and then splitting it into the three fermenters, but my brew pot would not have been big enough. Thankfully all three brews were remarkably similar, all with an OG of 1.050 and looking like the sample below.


On the yeast front, I used:
  • 3944 Belgian Wit
  • 1010 American Wheat
  • 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen
I decided to put the fermenters in my storage room rather than in the utility room as it maintains a fairly constant 66oF as opposed to the mid 70s. 24 hours after the yeast had been pitched, this was the sight that greeted me.


The beers are the Belgian at the back, American in the middle and German at the front. As ever I named the beers and created labels. LimeLight itself remains LimeLight, but the version with weizen yeast is called Rampenlicht, the German word for "limelight", while the American is Broadway American Witbier. The beers will stay in primary for 14 days before being bottled and left for a few weeks, being ready around the middle of July.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Red Coat is Coming!

Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, American Style India Black Ale, call it what you will, seems to be the latest fad de jour, and yes I have written about it before, and yes I am still unconvinced that it is not a porter over hopped with the wrong hops.

One of the joys though of being a homebrewer is that I can be a cynical sod AND put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Firstly though a quick precis of the project; take a clone recipe for ASIBA, switch out the hops for British varieties, whilst keeping the malts and yeast the same, and see how porteresque this British Style ASIBA would be. Simple.

I only brew very small batches by some people's standards, usually a couple of gallons, but for this experiment I really didn't want to have a case of bottles lying around if the beer was piss awful, so I scaled the recipe to just a single gallon, or a dozen 12oz bottles when the time comes. Of the recipes in the Brew Your Own article, I plumped for the clone of Widmer's W-10 Pitch Black IPA, and choose Admiral and Goldings as my hops, deciding in the end to stick with Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast, the recipe for a single gallon was as follows:
  • 2lbs light DME
  • 6oz Caramel 10
  • 3oz Carafa II de-husked
  • 2.5oz Briess Special Roast
  • 0.4oz 10.5% AAU Admiral @ 75
  • 0.3oz 10.5% AAU Admiral @ 2
  • 1oz 4.5% Goldings @ 2
The original gravity was exactly the same as for the Widmer Clone, hitting 1.064 or 16° Plato. With regard to IBUs, the calculator I use showed that again I hit the mark by getting 65 IBUs - just an aside, the site with this IBU calculator has all manner of fun tools which I find very, very useful and heartily recommend. I brewed while Mrs Velkyal was out at rowing, just finishing cleaning up as she walked in the door and dragged me out to the shops, by the time we got back, about 4 hours later, the airlock was bubbling away happily.

I plan to bottle the beer on Sunday morning, before heading off for a shift at the Starr Hill tasting room, and sampling the collaboration Black IPA by the four brewers of the Brew Ridge Trail. If my version is at least drinkable, part of me is prepared to hate it and ditch the lot, thus the very small batch, I will enter the beer in the next homebrew competition I plan to enter, in September. Though in quite what category, I have no idea.

As for the name of my new beer? Red Coat India Black Ale, for fairly obvious reasons I am sure.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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