Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not my usual, but nice

Beer brewing is an interesting hobby.  There is a lot of chemistry as well as some baking and cooking skill, which I suppose is also chemistry.  Back on March 5th I brewed what the recipe told me was an ESB.  Now, certainly I am not faulting Austin Home Brew.  In the hands of a more skilled brewer, this may be the best ESB ever.  In my hands, it is not at all unpleasant but I wouldn't characterize it as
an ESB at all.

Yesterday, Matt and I cracked open the first two bottles. Uncapping made the perfect "Pfft" noise that is musical to a brewer's ears.  At least with that noise, you know you probably don't have a dud. We poured it into glasses.  The color was a lovely orange gold.  It it pretty clear, but might clear more over time. It smelled like beer, but not like I expected though I couldn't place  the aroma.  So, finally, we tried that first taste.  It tasted Belgian.  Not like a really amazing brewed-by-monks Belgian beer, but like a pretty good attempt by an American brewery at a Belgian style beer. It wasn't the least bit unpleasant, but not at all what I was expecting.  As I continued to sip at the beer, some of the more ESB qualities began to shine through.  Perhaps the flavor profile will change over the next few days or weeks as well as it continues to condition in the bottles. I have also not yet cracked open the Party Pig so that might be a different experience than the bottles as well.

I am not unhappy about this beer, but I do wonder what I did in the process to cause this to happen.  We have a modified brown beer in the carboy as we speak so I'll be curious how that one turns out as well. That is kind of the fun part about beer.  After you do all the work, you have to wait a while to see what really happens. 

I also got a couple of books for my birthday.  Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels and Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher.  I have already started devouring the Ray Daniels' book and I have already learned a few things that will help with our next batch - specifically about calculating the original gravity. 


  1. Laura,

    Without knowing what yeast you used, I'd say that the belgian-like flavors are caused by the fermentation temperature being a little on the warm side. When I do an ESB, I like to ferment in the 65-68 degree range after pitching the yeast a little cooler than that. It's better to warm up to the fermentation temp than try and bring it down after pitching.

    BTW, I ran across your blog through your "Life in 120 Square Feet" blog, by way of Jonathan's Fencl blog. My wife and I live in Florida, but bought 3 acres north of Burnsville NC last year and are working towards building a small house there in the next couple of years. It sounds like we have a lot of the same favorite beer spots in Asheville too! The Thirsty Monk is one of mine, and I have several glasses I have gotten on Wednesdays (Pint Night).

    Keep up the brewing and don't get discouraged when something doesn't come out the way you expect it to.


  2. Thank you very much for the advice! This is very helpful for me, since I am still somewhat of a baby-brewer.

    Thanks for checking out my other blog, too! When you're in WNC let us know. There are a few small house builders n the area. Maybe we can grab a beer!

  3. Sounds good! It will probably be mid-June before we get a chance to get back up there.