Sunday 1 April 2012

Tasting/Recipe : Old Brown Shoe

While trying to decide what beer to drink a few days ago (the best difficult decision to have), I came across a few bottles of a batch I had brewed in November, 2010. I had mostly forgotten about this beer, and was happy to try it again for the first time in months. It was a Southern English Brown, the first English Brown Ale I'd ever brewed; and I still haven't brewed another, despite really enjoying the style.

All of the English Browns are relatively low-alcohol; SEB is usually somewhere in between Milds and Northern English Browns. Good SEBs should be malty-sweet, moderately fruity, with no real hop character in the aroma or flavor. Creamy and smooth, with low carbonation, it's a great example of your classic English session ale. I'd be beating a dead horse by telling you that there are no SEBs available for sale in New Brunswick, so I won't mention it. Oops.

Anyway, I mainly decided to brew this beer because I HADN'T tried any of the style before, and liked the sound of it in the BJCP guidelines. The recipe in Brewing Classic Styles looked interesting, with plenty of specialty malts. One of these was Special Roast, which I had only used once before (in a Special Bitter) but still hadn't tasted, since the beer wasn't yet bottled. In terms of all the specialty grains I've used in homebrewing, Special Roast has got to be one of the most... "unique". It leaves a very distinct tart character (at least, it does to me), even in small amounts. To be honest, I'm still a little unsure of whether I like it or not, but if you're ever looking for something new to try in an English beer, give it a shot... but start with a low amount (say, 1/4 lb or so).

The beer was bottled sometime in December, and was entered in a couple of Canadian homebrew competitions in early-mid 2011. The first competition, the bottles arrived with the caps apparently intact, but with about 1/4 of the beer missing. Obviously I had had some issues with my bottle capper, so some leakage must have occurred. Of course, both judges commented that the beer had absolutely no carbonation, and was, probably as a result, lacking in body and aroma. It scored so-so, with 23.5 and 25 (in the "Good" category) out of 50 points overall.

No capping issues were reported for the second competition... scores here were 27, 27, and 33. The two lower-scoring judges both suggested the beer needed more sweetness, and more carbonation. The BJCP guidelines list carbonation as low to moderately-low, so I don't know if I agree that higher carbonation is the answer. The judge that gave the beer 33 had no complaints... and if you look closely at the scoresheet, you can see where he had changed his scores under all categories. Originally, his final score was 42! There must have been discussion to bring the three scores closer together, which from what I understand does happen from time to time. My thoughts on the beer are below:

Appearance: Poured with a small, light-tan head that quickly fades to a thin ring. Body is dark brown, but shows ruby highlights when held to the light. Excellent clarity.

Aroma: Rich aroma of caramel, chocolate, light-moderate fruity esters, and a bit of Special Roast "tang". No hop aroma.

Taste: Very rich and malty, but not cloying. Hints of chocolate, light coffee, fruit, and caramel. No hop flavor. Low hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, low carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Personally, I like this beer. I find it quite flavorful; I think it WOULD benefit from some more sweetness, maybe by decreasing some of the darker Crystal malts for a lighter one. I think I would also mash a couple of degrees higher for more body, and increase the carbonation SLIGHTLY.

Recipe: (5.5 gallons, 85% efficiency): OG 1.043, FG 1.015, IBU 16, SRM 27, ABV 3.6%

2.26 kg Maris Otter
454 g Crystal 80 L
284 g Crystal 120 L
227 g Special Roast
170 g Pale Chocolate
113 g Carafa Special II

East Kent Goldings - 28 g (4.5% AA) @ 60 min

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1 tab Irish Moss @ 15 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1968 London ESB (~1/2 cup 2nd generation slurry)

- Brewed Nov 21st, 2010, with Jill. 60 minute mash with 13.5 L of strike water, mashed in at 152 F. Sparged with ~4.5 gallons of 180 F water for final volume of 6.75 gallons in the kettle. 60 minute boil.

- Chilled to 65 F with immersion chiller. Poured into Better Bottle. Yeast slurry pitched at 63 F, aerated by shaking before and after.

- Fermentation activity was fast and short, slowing quickly after 2-3 days, temp reaching up to 69 F. Bottled about 3 weeks after brewday, with 44 g table sugar, aiming for 1.5 vol CO2.

No comments:

Post a Comment