Monday, January 5, 2015

A year in Brewing Review

I figured I should consider doing a review post of what I have brewed this year, and hopefully how things tasted.  Some of them were started at the end of 2013, and were bottled or racked to secondary this year.  So without any further ado, and in chronological order:

Note: This article may be occasionally updated after I drink one of them (and get a new picture).

Dwarven mushroom stout, 1 gallon (1-26 to 2-23):  Just a one gallon test batch, my mashing was horrible (do to attempting to use an electric roaster to keep the temps), and it finished extremely sweet.  That being said, I think it was a fairly good example of what a stout should be--malty bitterness, big body, and enough sweetness to balance the bitter.  I do think it is worth brewing again, someday.
Dwarven Mushroom Stout
A split batch of cider: 4 gallons of basic cider with an OG of 1.060.  Safale US-05 yeast used.
After a month in primary, I racked and pulled 1 gallon off, which received 1/2 oz of Saaz pellets.  A few months later, I bottled (filtering the hops out) this one.  It was delicious, and a perfect "Bardic Brew"...dry so it doesn't coat your throat, but smooth and high enough abv to loosen your vocal cords.  Definitely worth making again.
A couple of weeks later (2-8), I added a pound of ginger, 1 cup of honey, and one ounce of Bordeaux blend oak beans.  I racked it a few times in the next five months.  It came out very dry (0.998) with a lovely lemony ginger flavour.

Heather Metheglin, 1 gallon (12-1-13): I used 1/4 cup of dried heather tips (steeped in boiled water for 1/2 hour), cote des blanc yeast, and honey to 1.070.  A month later it was dry (0.999).  It then sat for another seven months until I got around to it, and added some oak.  Two days later, I bottled (I wanted very light oak, and enough came out in those days).  FG 0.995.  The flavour is very, very light, as is the body.  But, there is a faint herbiness to it, which is mostly unidentifiable.  I don't think it's too bad, but it wasn't really good, either.  I wouldn't try to duplicate it.
Heather Metheglin

Rhubarb Sais(off), 3 gallons (Early June?):  I made so many mistakes--extremely thick mash (I didn't make my brew bag big enough for the cooler), stuck sparge (because of flaked oats and wheat malt, plus muslin is too fine for the wort to go through), wrong yeast (not entirely my fault), etc.  I had to add white sugar to bump the SG to something reasonable.  In mid July, I bottled at the FG of 1.004.  All that being said, I really liked the wasn't what I wanted, but was refreshing and fairly tasty--although without as much rhubarb flavour as I desired.  This year I will try to make a Rhubarb Saison again, using what I learned (and proper yeast).
Rhubarb Saisoff Trub...hideous, isn't it?
Rhubarb Wine, 5 gallons (7-18): 16 pounds of rhubarb, white and brown sugar (about 3lb of brown), and Cote des blanc yeast.  The OG was 1.111.  It fermented fine for a few weeks, then got stuck.  Other than adding some yeast energizer it has been untouched since then.  After polling my taste testers, I decided to make another batch to blend.
Rhubarb Wine
Mahlab Metheglin, 1 gallon (7-21): Another experimental batch, I fermented it completely with my house yeast (Wyeast Belgian-Canadian).  Mahlab is the pits of a certain sour cherry, and is used in Middle Easter baking.  Still unbottled (it has been cold crashing since September), but at last tasting (November) the flavour was almonds, and cherries, with a tart finish (likely from the yeast).

Carrot Wine, 3 gallons (9-2):  Over the course of several days, I simmered 10 pounds of chopped carrots for 4-5 hours (until extremely soft, but avoiding mushy), and added 20oz of raisins after pitching yeast.  I fermented with Cote des Blanc, and had a OG of 1.110.  A couple of weeks later, I racked it from under the raisins and it had a really weird dryness.  It has been untouched since then, and did continue fermenting.  Note: Only use golden raisins.
Carrot Wine.  Sadly, the raisins darkened it considerably.
Malliard Botchet, 1 gallon (9-3):  FG appears to be 1.032.  Flavour is of cherries, figs, caramel, and a heavy body.  I have not checked it since the beginning of November.  I believe it got infected, sadly.  There are off flavours.  I bottled in the beginning of January.
Malliard Botchet
 Rhubarb Wine, 4 gallons (9-5): 13 pounds of rhubarb, white sugar only.  I experimented on this one by pitching my house cider yeast (Wyeast Belgian-Canadian)--fermentation started in the 1.12 OG must immediately.  Five days later, I pitched 1116.  I have not touched it since 10-10, when it was at 1.042. 

2-26-15; SG 1.024.  Racked off the lees.  Flavour is good, with no flaws.  Mom still says it isn’t rhubarb enough.  I believe I will bottle it straight, without blending. 12.8% ABV.  Colour is very pale. 

Rhubarb Wine.  I wish it had stayed this colour.
Light Cherry Cyser, 4 gallons (September): Flavour is interesting.  I used the house yeast to ferment, and at one point it developed a light pellicle (which I left for several weeks before pasteurizing).  Sweet with Light black cherry, and bubblegum.  It is dangerously drinkable now, and will only improve.
Light Cherry Cyser

Walnut Belgian Graff, 4 gallons (10-22): Malty, with just enough walnut flavour.  Right now, it is not my favourite--it still needs a decent amount of aging, plus to finish bottle carbing.
Walnut Belgian Graff

Also made was 6-7 gallons of "House Cider".  Treetop cider fermented in 1/2 gallon batches with 1/2 cup sugar, and yeast cultured from a bottle of Uni-brue's Wheat tripel (should be Wyeast Belgian-Canadian).  It gave good cider flavour, with a tart finish, and didn't need any aging or cold crashing (although it helps)--I typically just poured it off the lees into a growler, and started drinking on it the next day...while the next batch started fermenting.

Orange bitters, Spruce liqueur, and a couple batches of Barenfang were also made.

© John Frey, 2014. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.  The recipes and other contents therein may not be used for any commercial purposes.

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