Tastings: Cider & Cream Ales

Last week we had our first tastings of my wife’s hard cider, Cream of the Crop (cream ale) and Bean Me Up Scotty (coffee cream ale).

Hard Cider:
The hard cider didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. The cider wasn’t very sweet even after adding more apple juice at bottling. The cider also has a strong alcohol bite, which I wasn’t expecting. The cider is good, with a nice cinnamon after taste. It is definitely not your typical hard cider.

Cream of the Crop:
This cream ale is a nice light beer with a hint of sweetness. Nothing special, but good for these summer days.

Bean Me Up Scotty:
This coffee cream ale turned out great! This my favorite beer to date. Like I have said before, it is not the typical style of beer you would add coffee to, but worked out really well. The sweetness in the cream ale is a great complement to the coffee. It has a nice coffee flavor in the beginning, not too strong but not hidden, with the sweetness coming through on the end.

I had some friends over who were all excited to try it. They gave it rave reviews as well. The only downside to this beer is I only have 14 bottles left. This will definitely be a beer I make again, and in a larger quantity.

I will soon be bottling the Cool Beans (vanilla cream ale) and On The Blues (blueberry cream ale). Look for that post coming soon.


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Cream Ale & Cider: Bottling

This week I got down to bottling. I started with my wife’s cider. This was a really small batch. This was her first time doing it, so she only made a gallon. From the tasting in bottling, it’s going to be great. It has a really nice cinnamon taste to it, since cinnamon was added in the boil and in the secondary. We added some apple juice when we bottled to make the cider a little sweeter. I look forward to drinking this, if my wife lets me. Unfortunately it’s only a small batch, so only 15 bottles.20130620-095814.jpg We juiced some apples and mixed that in with some apple juice, along with some spices my wife threw in.20130620-100017.jpg So, the cider should be good to go in two weeks or so.

I also bottled my cream ale this week. I shared in my last post that I really wanted to add some things to the cream ale, but the point of the cream ale was something simple so I could have beer to drink soon. Well, I found the best of both worlds. My wife bought her apple juice in one gallon glass jar containers, so I now have 1 gallon carboys I can experiment in. So, I am making four different varieties out of the cream ale:

“The Cream of the Crop”
This is the straight up cream ale. I bottled 15 bottles. This is a nice light and slightly sweet beer.

20130620-101512.jpg“Bean Me Up Scotty”
This is a coffee cream ale. This isn’t the usual style you would add coffee to, but like I said, I wanted to experiment. I added some cold brewed coffee in the bottling bucket to taste. It tasted good in this tasting. I’m excited to see how it turns out. I bottled 18 bottles of this.

“Cool Beans”
This is a vanilla cream ale. I put a gallon of this in the secondary with vanilla beans. Depending on the taste I may add some vanilla flavoring when I bottle it.

“On The Blues”
This is a blueberry cream ale. I added blueberries in my second gallon carboy.20130620-102200.jpg
In a couple of weeks I will get these bottled. I’m looking forward to trying out the variety. I love have these small carboys to experiment. More label art will be coming as well.

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Cream Ale & Cider

Saturday was another brew day. My beer supply is falling drastically low. I have less then 15 bottles left that are drinkable. I have 50 bottles of Strawberry Blonde Ale, but it is still conditioning, and I have no clue when it will be ready. For this reason I decided to do something simple. I also had a friend coming over to check out the home brewing process. He’s considering diving into the home brew world, but wanted to see what he was getting in to. This is another reason why a simple beer was a good idea. So a cream ale it is. It will be good for the summer. I had my ingredients and was trying to work out a date with my friend to brew. I continued to think of different things I could add to the cream ale to make it better and more complex. I had to continuously remind myself that I was making a simple beer with a quick turnover to have something to drink. I wanted to play around with it, I wanted to make it unique, but sometimes you just want a simple beer. I continued to fight with myself, thinking of orange peels and vanilla beans in the secondary. Even now that sounds so good, and I have to tell myself to shut up. It is apparent that I need to get another brew going soon. We’ll see what ideas the wife has for my next beer. She always has interesting, unique and challenging ideas.

So, Saturday I put together the Cream Ale, super simple. It was fun getting to go over the process with my friend. He was surprised at the simplicity, as I’m sure most people would be. Making beer does not need to be complicated. There are simple ways to do it.

The other week my wife decided she wanted to make cider, so I racked that into the secondary while we were brewing the cream ale. The cider smelled great. It had a great cinnamon apple smell. The clarity is horrific, but I knew this was going to be an issue from the beginning. My wife added a vanilla bean and cinnamon stick to the secondary, after adding cinnamon nutmeg and brown sugar when she boiled it. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

So, we have some cream ale and cider coming up. I’m not sure what’s next, but making this has me itching to make more.

Oh, and it looks like we might have another new home brewer. My friend was excited to try it himself.

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Strawberry Blonde

I bottled the Strawberry Blonde Ale on March 3rd. It was very promising when I bottled it. I was going for a very sweet beer with this one. I am not one for a subtle flavor in my beer. If you put something in there, I want to taste it. If there is fruit in the beer, I want to taste the fruit. I have not been disappointed. It is definitely very sweet, you don’t have a problem trying to find the strawberries in the beer.

I opened my first bottle on March 12th. The beer was light and sweet. It had a good taste to it, but had a little bit of a funky after taste. I had this same issue with my Honey Vanilla Lager. It has the same off smell and the same after taste. This stuck around for a long time with the Honey Vanilla Lager. I thought it was just bad, but eventually it came around and tasted good. It only took nine months of conditioning. I really have no clue why it took this long. I’m hoping the Strawberry Blonde won’t take this long to condition, but I will be more patient with this one.

Racking my blonde ale onto 8 lbs. of strawberries.

Next in store is a Cream Ale. I’m trying to do something that will be ready quick, as my stock is down to 17 beers, not including the Strawberry Blonde. I hope to brew up the Cream Ale sometime soon.

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Brewing Strawberry Blonde Ale

Monday I brewed some more beer. I have several different beers in store that I would like to make. My wife got me a recipe book for Christmas that has a lot if intriguing recipes. These recipes are all a little more complicated, so I opted for the Strawberry Blonde Ale for now. Saturday I have a beer exchange for a friends birthday, so my home brew supply will be running low and the blonde ale will be the quickest.

This week has been very cold. It was in the twenties on my brew day, so I decided to make the beer in the kitchen. I forgot how long it takes to make on the stove. The turkey fryer works a lot quicker.

I found the recipe on homebrewtalk.com. Monday I brewed the base for the beer, a blonde ale. After a week I will be racking this into my secondary over eight pounds of frozen strawberries. After another week I will transfer the beer into a tertiary to help clear the beer.

I will keep you posted on how the process goes. The description of the beer says it is pretty sweet and you don’t have to search for the strawberry flavor. I like to taste the fruit in my fruit beer, so we’ll see how this one turns out. Cheers.

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Beer in Review

This was my first year of more serious brewing. My brewing started with the Mr. Beer kit, a small brewing kit that allows you to brew two gallons of beer. This year I upped the anti and got a bigger more in depth kit that allows me to brew five gallons at a time.

I brewed six different beers this year, Raspberry Wheat, Irish Red, Brown Ale, Honey Vanilla Lager, Angry Munchkin (Mad Elf Clone), and Dark Smokey Stout. Check them out. Of all my brews, only one didn’t really turn out. I still won’t let anyone drink my Honey Vanilla Lager. As for the rest of my beers, they all turned out really well.

I have received great reviews on all my beers. One friend was surprised to find out that it tasted like “real beer”. Apparently he wasn’t expecting it to taste good. I made some beer for a friends gallery opening, and people were wondering what kind of beer it was an where they could get it.

So, it has been a successful year of brewing. I’m not sure what all I will be brewing this year, but I will probably venturing into some more difficult and in depth beers. I do know my wife wants me to make framboise and I’d like to play around with my dark smokey stout, but we’ll see what the year has in store.

Here’s to another good year of brewing. Cheers.

Check out all my brews and more info on them in the My Brews page.

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Beer Reviews

This past weekend a high school friend of mine got married. It was a byob, so I brought some home brews along for people to try out. I received nothing but rave reviews on the Smokey Stout and the Angry Munchkin (what I decided to call my Mad Elf). I also realized the Smokey Stout tastes better when it warms up a little, as opposed to right out of the fridge. You can taste all the flavors a lot better when it isn’t so cold.
I’m glad I went with the dark chocolate over milk chocolate. This flavor really comes out when it warms up a little, and it tastes really good. The stout also goes well with some thanksgiving pie, especially shoo fly pie.

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Tasting Smokey Mocha Stout

Today I cracked open the Smokey Mocha Stout. It turned out really well. This could be my best brew yet. It’s right up there with the Brown Ale. I have some tweeks I would like to make to improve it, but it is good the way it is. I would like to add some coffee to the brew to make it a stronger coffee stout. I also had the idea to add strawberries to the brew to make a chocolate strawberry stout. This would be difficult and take a lot of strawberries to counter the dark stout, but could be really good if I got it right.

For now I’m going to enjoy this brew and see what others have to say about it.

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Bottling Smokey Mocha Stout

Yesterday I finally got around to bottling my Smokey Mocha Stout. It smelled great as I opened up the secondary and it tasted just as good. I’m excited for this one to finish. It just might be my favorite brew yet.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) I broke my first rule of brewing/bottling. I didn’t have a beer while I bottled. I have a rule that I don’t drink when I am working in the evening, and I was working last night. However, I ended up going for a run after I was finished bottling, so it was good I didn’t have a beer.

I’m not sure what is next on my list to brew. My wife wants me to do a lambic. She found me a recipe and everything. She is a big fan of Lindemans Frambaise, and would like me to give it a try. This is a complicated beer which actually is fermented twice with two different yeasts. I’m not sure when this will happen. I don’t have any ingredients yet. I have to find out what the fruit is going to cost me since nothing is in season. I’ll keep you posted as this will be a very interesting brew.

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Troegs Mad Elf vs. Jotham Mad Elf

I was finally able to compare my home brew Mad Elf clone to the real thing. Luckily a friend of mine had an extra Mad Elf he was willing to trade to allow me to do my comparison.

The first test of smell was rather close. My home brew had a little more of a yeasty smell to it. The color was spot on. You were not able to tell a difference in the color of the beer. My home brew had a little more head and the clarity was not as good as the Troegs.

My sister and brother-in-law helped me with the taste test. The tastes were also very similar. The Troegs seemed to have a little bit of a sweeter taste to it, as well as a lighter taste. My home brew had a slightly darker taste and it seemed to be a little stronger.

All in all, the comparison showed my home brew came very close to the real thing. It’s not always good to try and do a clone, but this one turned out really well.

I am very happy with this beer, and have received great reviews on it so far.

Soon I will have an update on my Smoked Mocha Stout.

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