Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tasting Notes: Farmer in the Rye w/ Wallonian Farmhouse

The second beer I brewed with The Yeast Bay's Wallonian Farmhouse strain was based on Ed Coffey's Farmer in the Rye, inspired by this write up of his own experiences with that yeast.  The beer has subsequently come first in its category in two local competitions: Brixies Brewers' Brixtoberfest and Chicago Beer Society's Spooky Brew.  All credit to Ed and his excellent recipe! It scored 36 overall at Brixtoberfest, but frustratingly the organizers misplaced my scoresheets so I didn't get any feedback; that was why I entered it in Spooky Brew as well, where it scored 40 (and was, I think, judged by Jeff Sparrow of Wild Brews).  Since people seem pretty interested in these new strains, I've reproduced the judge's tasting notes below (as best I could---the handwriting was difficult to decipher in places).

First Judge

Aroma: Dominant fruity pineapple and lemon citrusy aromas.  Moderate spicy, peppery aromas in background.  Touch of sugary sweetness in finish.

Appearance: Pale golden in color with a slight haze and lasting, cream white foam.

Flavor: Starts with pleasant peppery phenols balanced by a touch of sweetness and enhanced by a touch of acidity.  Fruity, citrus character comes across in background with a fruity, peppery finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body and high carbonation good for style. Exhibits a moderate astringency and notable[?] [?????]  warmth. [probably "alcohol", though it doesn't look like that!]

Overall Impression: Fruit and pepper with a bit of sweetness and acidity in background for support.  Just a bit of astringent, perhaps oxidized character in the finish.

Second Judge:

Aroma: Strong, high citrus esters, with a lemon character; medium to low pepper spice aroma; low bready malt aroma; low solventy, alcohol aroma; low earthy hop aroma.

Appearance: Beautiful light straw color with medium haze; large head, white with long retention and a delicate texture.

Flavor: Medium-high tartness and lemon-like ester predominate; medium pepper spice flavor follows; medium to low bitterness and cracker-like malt flavor; perhaps a low cardboard flavor is perceived in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light body, high carbonation with a lively effervescence; medium alcohol warmth with a puckering sensation on the tongue.

Overall Impression: A refreshing, easy to drink example of the style -- well done!  The tartness and lemon esters predominate and are pleasant.  There may be a slight oxidation problem which I am perceiving as staleness in the aftertaste; might be interesting to manage the yeast to increase the spicy component.

So, there you go!  Much better than the tasting notes I would have written for this beer---some of the most detailed and helpful I've got from the few competitions I've entered, actually, so I'm grateful to the judges.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, for a long while, this was my least favourite of the three beers I brewed with this strain. I felt that it needed a little more tartness or bitterness to cut against the sweetness---not at all something you'd gather from the judge's tasting notes, which probably just goes to show how idiosyncratic my palate is here!  I've actually noticed with all the WF beers that the tartness has increased steadily over time, and as that happens I find myself reaching for bottles of this beer more and more frequently.

One final note: I think the carboard aftertaste was there in the first beer I brewed with this strain.  That doesn't mean its not a process-related issue: in fact, I noticed a few months ago that the spigots on one of my bottling buckets lets in a small amount of oxygen if not opened properly, which might explain this, though its possible that there is some other yeast-derived flavour that the judges are picking up on.

1 comment:

  1. Ive gotten the same astringency from Wallonian on older pitches. The last batch I brewed was decent but it had a sharp astringent bite to it that turned me off. I chalked it up to yeast health due to being 4 generations old, maybe you cant go too many generations with this strain. Congrats on the accolades! Recipes aint shit unless you know how to brew th hell our of them, good on you.