Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tasting Notes: Table Beer III

I damn near ruined this beer by letting it get too much flavour from an oak spiral.  This is particularly frustrating as I'm usually very conservative when it comes to adding oak to beer, and also because without the oak I thought this was the best table beer I brewed so far.

How did I end up adding too much oak?  The spiral I used came from my attempt at spontaneous fermentation.  Before brewing that beer, I had boiled it for about thirty minutes in some hot water, and allowed it to soak for several weeks in my house culture.  It then spent a few more weeks in the (unfermenting) wort.  I wrongly assumed that by this point most of the flavour would be gone, and added it to the secondary vessel containing the table beer in the hopes that it would add some wild yeasts to the fermented beer.

This was actually all part of a long-term plan.  My thought was that once the spiral was inoculated with various bugs from my house culture and the spontaneous fermentation, I could use it as a way of inoculating other beers in turn by adding it to the wort during primary fermentation.  Sort of like a poor man's version of fermenting in an inoculated barrel.  Its potentially a good idea, and one I still intend to implement, but I now know to make doubly sure that all the flavour is stripped from the oak.  Its currently sitting in the jug containing my house culture again.

Appearance: Most bottles of this beer were a hazy golden yellow, but this last one (which has been in the fridge a while) has dropped bright.  Foamy and lingering head.

Smell: Lemons and white grapes, but then straight up wood underneath it.  By the end its like you are sniffing a brand new American oak spiral.

Taste:  Lemony and slightly spicy at first, before the wood comes on.  The first few bottles tasted like licking an oak spiral, but now that's faded a bit such that other flavours come out as well. A nice tartness has developed since the beer was bottled, which I think also helps offset the wood.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, doesn't feel particularly thin, but still very easy to drink. Slight lingering astringency from the bitterness and wood.

Drinkability & Notes:  I had no trouble getting through this batch (unsurprisingly, I find these table beers are a nice accompaniment to dinners during the week, after which I often have to spend time prepping classes for the next day), but the oak was far too dominant in most of the bottles I drank.  I think without it this would have been my favourite table beer so far, and I'll definitely brew this recipe again.  I have a slightly stronger version, blended with no-boil sour, conditioning in bottles at the moment, and I've put a rebrew of this table version in my brewing calendar for next month.

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