Showing posts with label samoset vintage ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label samoset vintage ale. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vintage Time!

I can't remember where I read it, perhaps Pete Brown's "Hops and Glory", but there is a story that in the making of the British Empire there were two foodstuffs that were vital, beef and beer. Wherever we founded a colony we sourced the local beef, but made sure that the beer came from home - random thought, imagine if under the reign of George I there had been a United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland and Hannover, some of those old beer styles might still be around.

Whether the English that came to the New World landed in Virginia with a view to making money or further north to establish a colony of Puritans, they all brought their beer with them. Mourt's Relation, the major primary source for the Plymouth Colony, says that they chose their final landfall partly as a result of running low on beer. English beer clearly had a reputation with some of the native Americans as it was one of the first things asked for by Samoset, having strolled through the woods and greeted the newcomers in their own tongue.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and is the day when my Samoset Vintage is officially ready for drinking. I say "officially" because I took a bottle to our homebrew club prior to entering it in the Virginia Beer Blitz to help me decide whether it is an old ale or a barleywine. I am aware that in reality there is no difference, but I had to choose the most suitable BJCP sub-category. The beer itself received an Honorable Mention, so I guess it is pretty good!

On top of a base of Munton's light DME, I added chocolate malt, Briess Special Roast and Caramel 40. The hopping was a blend of Admiral, Northern Brewer and East Kent Goldings, to give me 59 IBUs and all that was fermented with my good friend Nottingham. I ended up with an abv of 9.3%. Bottled in January, it has sat in the cellar at a fairly steady 60 degrees Fahrenheit for 11 months.

Next weekend I will be brewing the 2011 vintage, the recipe really hasn't been finalised yet, though with the size of mash tun being somewhat on the small side, I will be using more DME to bump the gravity.

Well, rather than wittering on, have a happy Thanksgiving people!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Planning Ahead

I sometimes think that homebrewing is an exercise in being one step ahead of the seasons. As such, I am already in the planning phase for my winter beers.

I love winter with a passion, I sometimes think I have SAD in reverse, the darker and colder it gets, the happier I become. With Mrs Velkyal soon to start work again after the summer, she teaches 3-6 year old children, my thoughts turn to beers to brew for the long dark nights, hopefully dark, cold and snowy - I love snow. Random side story, almost every year in Prague it would snow on my birthday.

Anyway, to some of my homebrew plans for winter and Yuletide. As I have done for the last 2 years, I plan to brew my chocolate Export Stout and spiced Belgian Amber Ale. Both those recipes are pretty well established in how I like them, so I doubt I will be tweaking too much, though I do plan to make 2 batches of each.

Although not a beer for the coming winter, I will brewing the third rendition of my Samoset Vintage Ale, which I brew in November for the Thanksgiving of the following year. Now that I have a little mash tun, this year's version will include Biscuit and Victory malt on top of a Golden Promise base, with extract making up the difference, and hopping with First Gold.

I am also planning to brew a couple of clone recipes, in particular the Fuller's London Porter from a recent Brew Your Own magazine, for which I am playing with the idea of pulling out the little polypin to try and condition it almost a la cask. Staying with the Fuller's theme, I want to create something akin to 1845, which is still one of my favourite beers on the planet.

As ever then, lots of plans, ideas and thoughts, what will you be brewing with winter in mind?

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Year in the Making

This time last year I started what I hope to be an annual tradition, brewing a barleywine in late November or early December and letting it sit until the following Thanksgiving. In trying to think of a name for the beer in question, I batted about several ideas, including Vintage Velky Ale. In the end I settled on the name Samoset Vintage.

The name Samoset comes from the first Native American to make contact with the Plymouth Colony, who of course had made landfall because their supplies were running low, especially their beer (more's the pity their modern co-religionists don't share such a view of beer, and alcohol in general). According to , Samoset strolled into the Plymouth Colony, welcomed the colonists in his broken English and asked if they had any beer. When presented with a draft of finest English ale, he is reputed to have commented "this is not to style!".*

Anyway, so last November I brewed the first Samoset Vintage Ale, a barleywine which once fermentation was done, weighed in at 12% abv. In the boil I used Challenger and East Kent Goldings, I then dry hopped the beer with Cascade for a couple of months. The malt bill was simplicity itself, lots of pale dry malt extract and a pound of Caramel 40 for colour and flavour. The yeast was 1728 Scottish Ale from Wyeast. Given that last week was Thanksgiving, it was time to finally enjoy, I hoped, the beer. A quick disclaimer though, I had a bottle in June to make sure it was carbonated properly and then another when I tried not to get in the way of brewing the Pilsner with Devils Backbone.

So to the beer itself. As the pictures quite nicely show, it pours a rich dark copper, topping off with a large, off-white, rocky head that hangs around for the duration - and with a quick swirl of the glass refreshes itself.  The nose is by turns lemony, lightly piney, boozy and earthy, then as it warms it becomes quite spicy, almost curryesque. In terms of taste, the first mouthful is a hefty hit of caramel sweetness, but not cloyingly so. The bitterness of all the hops comes through in the finish to cut through the sweetness leaving a nice balance. As the bitterness fades there is a warming afterglow of booze.

The beer is quite full bodied and has a nice level of carbonation that is not overly fizzy, but not "flat" either, given the good head on the beer it is not really all that surprising that the beer left plenty of lacing down the glass.

The only downside to Samoset Vintage 2009 is that it is deceptively easy to drink. The alcohol is very well integrated and if I hadn't known the alcohol content then I would have been happy to drink my entire stash of the beer, and then wonder why my legs refused to function.

Actually, there is another downside to the beer. I only have 7 bottles left, and I was hoping to age at least a 6 pack for next year's Thanksgiving - and do a comparison with this year's, yet to be finalised, recipe. Perhaps I only need a couple of bottles though?

You could say then that I am very happy with the end result of my first barleywine, and you'd be right!

* I made that bit up.

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...