Tuesday 24 December 2013

Tasting : 'Merica vs. 'Anada

Ok, I apologize right now for these tasting notes taking as long as they have, because when I originally posted my brew notes for this Prairie Artisan Ales 'Merica clone, the post had a lot of attention. Seems like a lot of homebrewers out there love this beer, and would like to try cloning it themselves.

As mentioned in the original post, I decided against bottling this beer with two strains of Brett, as Prairie does. Instead, I dry-hopped and bottled half the beer "plain", and added Brett bottle dregs (from some commercial beers) to the other half in secondary; after the FG got down to 1.001, I dry-hopped and bottled that half. This is why I've waited to post the tasting notes - I wanted to compare both beers to each other, and to the actual 'Merica itself.

Well, in a nutshell, the beer came out pretty fantastic. Even though my hopping schedule was off (Prairie corrected me AFTER I had brewed the beer and posted the recipe), with the dry-hop being only half of what it should have been, the beer has a HUGE Nelson Sauvin presence, in both aroma and flavor. Wow. I just wanted to shove my nose in this beer and keep it there all day... such a massive blast of tropical berries, with a bit of dank. Nelson may now be my new favorite hop variety.

Now that most of the plain beers are gone, I just started drinking the Bretted version, and honestly there's not a huge difference. I didn't get a lot of Brett character from 'Merica when I first had it, so I'm not too surprised, even though I took a different approach. I actually prefer the non-Brett half, because all that time in secondary diminished the Nelson a bit. Still a great beer, but if you brew this recipe, I encourage you to drop the Brett addition if it means more trouble/money for you.

So, the comparison you see in the picture is with the Bretted version of my homebrew, vs. 'Merica. Below are my notes on my beer, compared to the real deal...

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, fluffy white head that has very good retention (despite the picture). Body is a light orange color, and very hazy. The two beers look basically identical; I'd say my homebrew is just a hair darker and hazier.

Aroma: Intensely-fruity, with a strong berry component. Like sticking your nose into a big bowl of tropical fruit, with a touch of dank thrown in. Wonderful-smelling, one of the best-smelling beers I’ve ever brewed. The 'Merica is very similar, but has less fruit/hops and a bit more dankness/funkiness to it... it's hard to place (my wife mentioned "like feet").

Taste: Big berry flavor as well, with just a touch of spiciness - I assume from the yeast - to complement. It’s pretty much all-Nelson for the most part, although I’m sure the fruity character from the yeast is combining with the hop component. Medium-low bitterness, with a dry finish. Again, the 'Merica is very similar, but has less hops and more of that dank/funky character that I can't quite put my finger on.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, medium-high carbonation... yet, smooth, and not too prickly. Pretty much bang-on with the 'Merica.

Overall/Final Thoughts: This homebrew came out fantastic... it'd probably be up there in my top 3 or 5 beers I've brewed. I find it very similar to 'Merica, but with a bit more hop presence. However, I can't tell when the bottle of 'Merica I had was bottled, and I purchased it 2 months ago, so it could be an age thing. I also have no idea what yeast strain 'Merica uses; if they bottle condition this beer, it may help to actually culture some yeast from a bottle. However, I'm completely happy with the "clone" the way it came out; I don't even think it'd be necessary to double the dry-hop to match up with Prairie's recipe.


  1. Great post Shawn, I'm interested to see how your Brett version ages. I'd imagine it'll get significantly better. Did you add the Brett at bottling or in a secondary for some time and then bottle? I am going for the latter to avoid or carbing any bottles.

    1. Thanks, Ed... yeah, I may have mentioned it in the original post, but I added the Brett dregs in secondary as well, also because I was a bit wary of bottle bombs. I'm sure I would have had more Brett character if I had actually pitched a package of a Brett strain from Wyeast or White Labs, but those aren't readily available to me here. The character may develop, like you said, but unfortunately I don't have a lot of bottles of the beer, so I doubt they'll last that long! Also, you have to weigh the pro of more Brett vs. the con of diminishing hop flavor and aroma.