Tag Archives: Beer Tasting

Homebrew tasting

Last Saturday I attended a small homebrew tasting with a couple of friends, and we tasted through 12 different beers in total, ranging from light blonde ales to hoppy pale ales to imperial stouts to fruit-infused sour ales. It was a really interesting evening, and here are some quick tasting notes with accompanying pictures (beer are described below the pictures from left to right). I had a slightly runny nose during the evening, so my olfactory senses were not at their prime. Hence, the aroma descriptions will be quite limited.


Tresk Brewery – Hemera Blonde Ale

The first beer of the night was a Blonde Ale brewed by Marcus, apparently inspired by this recipe. The beer poured golden-yellow and slightly hazy. Almost no head was formed, but that was probably because of the pouring technique. The aroma was really light and bland, with just the slightest hints of malt and citrus. Despite what it sounds like, this was actually a very good thing, since it fits the style well and there were also no off-aromas present, which are typically very easy to spot in these light beers. The flavor followed a similar suit, with light notes of caramel and grain, and minimal hints of hops in the form of floral and citrus tones. The finish was quite dry and a relatively bitter finish. Again, very little fermentation byproducts that disturbed the flavor. Body was light and the carbonation level was moderate. This was very reminiscent to the light bulk lagers. Overall, not a beer that I found particularly enjoyable, but it was well made and would suit perfectly as a thirst-quencher for the summer.

Tresk Brewery – Summer Wit

The second beer of the night was a Witbier, that was also brewed by Marcus. He used flaked wheat, coriander, black pepper and orange peel in it, and fermented it with WB-06 dry yeast. This one poured with a very hazy straw-yellow color that is very typical for the style. Again no head was formed, but that will again be attributed to Marcus’ pouring technique. Citrus (particularly orange) and a peppery spiciness dominated the aroma, but in the background there was a (for me) disturbing tone of ‘breakfast sausage’ (the kind you put on bread). I think the coriander and black pepper are the reasons for that. I tried a bottle of this about a week earlier, and then it had quite obvious tones of diacetyl as well, but they had now faded away. The flavor offered some slightly tart and bready wheat tones together with the spices and citrus. The finish was quite sweet (but this was bottled around 10 days before tasting I think, so could probably be priming sugar) and had only a mild bitterness. The body was again light and the beer had a moderately light carbonation level. Overall a refreshing beer, that had some slightly disturbing ‘off-flavors’. Maybe slightly too much spices?

Ilkka’s Pihka II American Brown Ale

The third beer of the night was a hop-bursted American Brown Ale, that I received from my colleague Ilkka. The beer was brewed with Maris Otter, Brown, Crystal 60, Chocolate, and Black malt, and hopped with Simcoe and Chinook. It was fermented with Conan yeast that I had cultured up from a can of Heady Topper. The beer poured clear with a light brown, almost copper-like color. A slight off-white head was formed. Surprisingly light-colored for a Brown Ale, and this could almost go for an Amber Ale. The aroma was a nice blend of some toasty and lightly roasted malt tones, and some resin-like tones from the hops. The beer had been in the bottle for almost a year when we tried it, so it was probably very different in aroma and flavor last year. The flavor began with some nice malty tones, featuring notes of caramel, biscuits, toasted bread, and coffee. These then combined with a surprising fruitiness (almost mango-like), which could be derived from the hops, the yeast or from a combination of both. The finish was semi-dry and featured a moderate bitterness. This was really nice and well made, containing no off-flavors or other disturbing notes. Could just as well pass as an Amber Ale, and was probably quite different when it was fresher.

Ville’s Mystery Beer I

The first beer of the second trio was a mystery beer (unlabeled bottle) that Marcus had received from his friend Ville over a year ago and recently found in his cupboard. We had no idea what to expect, and I have no clue even now what actually was in the bottle. The beer was very well-carbonated, and as we opened the bottle, the beer started to slowly gush out. We quickly poured it to our glasses, where it had a slightly hazy amber-orange color. A massive off-white head was also formed as a result of all the carbonation. The aroma was very rich and malty, with tones of dried fruits (raisins and dates) and caramel. Could this be a Barleywine or a Belgian Strong Ale? The flavor followed a similar suit, with an initial hit of caramel, biscuits, raisins and other dried fruits. A minerally astringency was also present, which I wasn’t very fond of. The beer was really sweet, and the flavor ended with a slight alcohol burn as well. A little too heavy on the carbonation, especially for a beer with such a full body. Overall, this was quite nice, but the astringency really pulled down the points for me. You could definitely tell this had been in the bottle for quite a long time from the oxidized notes.

UJ IPA (see recipe and notes here)

The second beer of this line-up was the IPA I brewed about a month ago. This had been in the keg for around a week at the time of tasting, so the beer was definitely still green at the time. I haven’t tried it since the tasting, so I have no clue how it has changed. The beer poured with a slightly hazy, deep yellow color. Again, little head was formed. The beer really exploded with hop aroma, and the double dry-hop seems to have done its job. There were tones of grapefruit, resin, and tropical fruits present, and they all seemed to jump out of the glass as you closed in. A really, really nice aroma. The flavor was similar, but here the hop tones were joined by a slightly sweet maltiness. Unfortunately, the beer finished slightly too sweet (1.015), and would probably have been better a little drier. The bitterness (75 calculated IBUs) didn’t feel that strong, and the flavors were quite balanced between each other. The beer had a medium body and carbonation level. Overall, I am quite happy with the beer, but it would probably have been better with less sweetness. I hope it dries out slightly in the keg.

Hobbe’s Tupla-Kustaa Double IPA

The final beer of the second line-up was an Imperial IPA brewed by Hobbe. I don’t remember any recipe-specific details about this beer, but it was apparently bottled quite long ago and was thus past its prime. The beer poured with a slightly hazy orange color, and again almost no head. Judging only from aroma, you would probably not guess that this was an Imperial IPA, as it was mostly malty with just the slightest hints of resin from the hops. The flavor began slightly tart and with a caramelly maltiness. There was not much hop character present here either, but the beer finished very dry and with a huge bitterness. Quite unbalanced unfortunately, and this was probably better much fresher. The beer had a medium body and a high carbonation level (this could have continued fermenting slightly in the bottle with time). This was definitely not my type of IPA, and I think it could have used much more hops late in the boil, for a larger presence in the aroma.

Tresk Brewery – Evil Twin Amber Ale

We continued with enjoying one of Marcus’ recent beers from tap (5L party keg). This was a hop-bursted Amber Ale, based on Jamil’s Evil Twin. I had tried this beer earlier, but from bottle, and then I really enjoyed it. The beer pours clear and with a copper color. A slight off-white head is formed. The aroma features mainly tones of caramel and fruits, and thoughts are drawn to candied citrus zest and pineapple. There were also some ‘raw’ hops tones present, lending hints of pine and resin. The flavor is also hop-dominated (Citrus, pineapple, resin, flowers), but featured some toasted, bready and caramelly malt tones as well. The finish is semi-dry and has a moderate bitterness. The beer had a medium body and carbonation level. Maybe slightly unclean, and could use a little more bitterness, but otherwise this was a really well-made and enjoyable beer.

Tresk Brewery – Koff Porter Clone

The second beer of this line-up was also brewed by Marcus, and he wasn’t really happy about this attempt of cloning Sinebrychoff’s Porter. He had fermented it with Wyeast’s Irish Ale, but through a combination of under-pitching it drastically and using a quite old smack pack, he warned us that is contained quite a lot of off-flavors. He hadn’t tried it for several months though, so perhaps it had improved in the bottle? The beer poured clear and with a dark brown color. The color was more of a Brown Ale than a Porter, but I haven’t had Koff’s Porter for a while, so I don’t know how close it was to the original. The aroma was mostly roasted malts and coffee, but in the background you could detect banana (isoamyl acetate) and disturbing sulfur-like aroma. It wasn’t at all as bad as I had expected based on Marcus’ warnings, but you could definitely tell everything hadn’t gone smoothly with the fermentation. The flavor mainly featured tones of coffee, roasted malts, and ash, together with a slight earthy hoppiness. The finish was quite dry and it had a moderate bitterness. There was something off in the aftertaste as well (slightly solvent-like). Not bad, but this could definitely be improved with more fermentation control and proper pitching.

Ville’s Mystery Beer II

It was time for another unlabeled mystery beer from Ville, this time contained in a majestic 75 cl bottle. The beer poured with a slightly hazy, amber-orange, almost copper color. This time, there was not a problem with over-carbonation, and thus with careful pouring, a minimal off-white head was only formed. The aroma was very similar to Ville’s other beer, featuring a rich and sweet maltiness, with hints of caramel, raisins and dates. There is quite a lot of alcohol in the aroma as well, suggesting this will be quite a strong beer. The flavor is similar, with loads of caramel and toffee, together with really pronounced tones of raisins, dates and other dried fruits. Almost no hops tones, and a moderately low bitterness. The flavor is really sweet and the beer finishes in a slight alcohol burn as well. The body is full and the beer has a moderate carbonation level. This beer was very similar to Ville’s other beer, but where the first felt slightly astringent, this one was a bit more boozy. Not sure about the alcohol content, but it could easily have been over 10% ABV. A nice strong ale, that was a little heavy on the alcohol notes unfortunately.

Tresk Brewery – 1AM US-05 Amber Ale

The final line-up began with a two year old vintage of Marcus’ first attempt at homebrewing. It was an Amber Ale, that was split into two and fermented with S-04 and US-05. I have tried both beers earlier at one of our beer tastings, and then we already thought they were past their prime. How would two extra years of aging affect the US-05 version of the beer? The beer poured crystal clear and with a deep orange color. A slight off-white head was formed. The aroma is quite mild, featuring some slight bready malt tones and a little caramel. Surprisingly clean, especially compared to my memory of the beer and the tasting notes from a couple of years ago. The flavor was also bready and malty, featuring very little hop tones. The finish was dry with a huge bitterness. Quite one-dimensional, but what else is to expect from this old of a homebrewed Amber Ale. The body was light and the beer had a moderate carbonation level. This was not at all as unclean as I had remembered it, but still, the beer really didn’t excite much.

Ilkka’s Vadelma-Mustaherukka-Mustikka Sour Ale

The most interesting beer of the evening was a homebrewed Sour Ale that I had received from my colleague Ilkka. He had fermented it with a range of bottle dregs, and aged it on some raspberries, black currants and bilberries. I’m not that big of a Sour Ale fan, and don’t have much experience drinking them, so I’m not sure how worthwhile these comments will be. The beer poured clear and with a deep red color. It reminded me of the appearance of cranberry juice. The aroma was dominated by a sourness, which I found was quite mild (so I suspect it was mostly lactic acid and not that much acetic acid?), together with some berry tones in the background. I thought the berry tones were mostly from the black currants, and couldn’t detect much bilberries. The flavor was really sour, but I have no clue how it compares to other Sour Ales and Lambics. The berries were slightly more present in the flavor, with the black currant and raspberry dominating. Despite the strong sourness, I thought the flavors were quite balanced and even seemed to find a minor sweetness in the finish. The body was light and the beer had a moderate carbonation level. I actually thought this was quite nice, despite the big acidity. I have my own pseudo-lambic fermenting, and think I’ll go with something similar when adding some berries for flavoring. I have another bottle of this base beer, that has been aged on cloudberries instead, and it should be interesting to compare the two.

Yetish Imperial Stout (see recipe and notes here)

The final beer of the evening was a bottle of our approximately 10 month old Imperial Stout. We oak-aged half the batch, but this bottle is from the plain version. This is actually the first bottle I try from this batch, but I remember the beer having a really pronounced chocolate flavor when bottling. The beer poured pitch-black and with a high viscosity. You could definitely tell this beer was going to have a full body based on the thick appearance. The aroma was dominated by the typical Stout tones, with coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, and even some raisins and dried fruits. The flavor was similar, with mostly roasted malts, coffee and chocolate tones. The chocolate wasn’t as in-your-face as I had remembered. Unfortunately, we all thought the beer was slightly tart, and I’m wondering if either the bottle was infected, or if the brewing water could have used more alkalinity. The beer was quite dry and had a quite high carbonation level as well (perhaps some extra fermentation in the bottle), which could have enhanced the perception of tartness. The finish was quite bitter as well, and I’m not overly happy with the beer. Hopefully the oak-aged version is better.

Homebrew Tasting comments

The huge homebrew tasting we had last Friday was very nice, and we managed to go through a total of 30 beers (27 homebrews and 3 commercials) during the evening. We were a total of 6 people, and I’ve collected all the comments (in random order) on the homebrews below (unfortunately, due to the amount of beers, the beers we drank first have more comments). Note: We are mostly novices, the majority prefer hoppy pale ales, and we were all almost unfamiliar with sour ales before this, so take comments with a grain of salt.

Juhani’s Ykkösolut

“Light, yeasty aroma, high carbonation, minerally aftertaste (vichy)”

“Nice for this low of an alcohol content, but quite watery and high carbonation”

“Too much carbonation, aroma is yeasty, otherwise drinkable “

“Light, harsh carbonation, yeasty aroma, phenolics, very bland taste, no off-flavours, minerally”

“Banana and yeasty aroma. Light body. High carbonation.”

Overall, I think we all agreed that this was a well-made beer, but unfortunately, as with all low-alcohol beers, it was very light in flavor.

Juhani’s Hunaja-pakuriolut

“Light sweet aroma, low bitterness, spicy flavour, not much honey, unbalanced, thin body, no off-flavours”

“Smells like a shower room, flat, light body, drinkable”

“The aroma promises more than the flavour delivers. A little anonymous, but the flavour is otherwise good.”

“Flavor begins sweet and tart, but finish is quite bland”

“Sweet, light, spicy aroma, flat, moderate bitterness, unbalanced”

Again, the beer felt well made, but none of us really felt like we would ever buy this beer. I would be interested to know if hops were used in this, as the bitterness was very light.

Ratto’s California Common

“Chemical aroma (burnt plastic), quite sweet flavour”

“A bit strange, nice colour.”

“Interesting, quite low bitterness, maybe a bit too light body and unbalanced. “

“Slight burnt plastic in aroma, not present in the flavour, malty, sweet, mild bitterness, slight fruitiness”

“Banana in aroma. Finish is bitter and almost astringent.”

We were wondering if this one was contaminated, as many of us found tones of burnt plastic in the aroma. The flavor was though better, so maybe the contamination has recently developed. Otherwise not much to say.

Sly Cat Thesis Ale

“Brings forward another side of hops”

“Grassy aroma and flavour, light maltiness”

“Very strong citrusy and resiny aroma. Some grassy flavours, but loads of citrusy and fruity hoppiness. Could be more bitter.”

“Very hoppy aroma, lighter flavour, grassy”

“Flavour and aroma go good together”

Compared to the beer we had drank earlier, we all agreed that this beer had a crazily strong hop aroma, and it might even have been the hoppiest of the evening. Overall, the beer was well received, but flavor felt quite light compared to the aroma, and bitterness was quite low. People also felt that is was a bit too grassy, which I hope goes away with some time in the bottle.

Sly Cat Citra Pale Ale

“Crisp and fruity aroma, fruity flavour, low bitterness”

“Easy to drink, but it still has character, perfect for the summer”

“Almost perfect aroma, sweet and juicy, some black currants in aroma.”

“Black currants in aroma, light tartness, low bitterness”

“Tropical fruits, citrus and berries in aroma. Fruity, honey-like flavour, easy to drink, light bitterness”

This was one of our favorite homebrews of the evening, and it felt like a very well made hoppy session beer. I was surprised that the aroma was lacking the typical lychee, gooseberry, and tropical fruitiness of Citra, and was maybe more berry-like (many mentioned black currants).

Sly Cat Hoppy Amber – WLP007 Dry English Ale

“Heavy, sharp hop flavours, somewhat sweet”

“A bit unbalanced in the flavours, difficult to understand”

“Smoked salmon, roasted flavours”

“Really caramelly, red berries and dark fruits in aroma, medium bitterness, slight roastiness, some fruits, but caramel dominating”

The first of the Hoppy Amber threesome, and we felt like this was the sweetest of the bunch (it also had the highest specific gravity). Overall, the three beers were very similar, and I think that a slightly higher fermentation temperature would have given more difference and typical yeast aromas. The Dry English version was the most boring of the bunch we felt.

Sly Cat Hoppy Amber – WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast

“Strawberry jam”

“Balanced, slightly lighter hop flavours, something strange, juice”

“Butterscotch and caramel in aroma, very similar to the other three, but slighty more hop flavours in this”

“Much more flavours compared to WLP007, roasty”

“In your face flavours, similar to Conan”

This one had the sharpest hop flavours of the three, and was also drier than the WLP007 version. The overall opinion was that this version was the best of the three. The malt tones in this version were maybe more butterscotch-like, but they were very similar.

Sly Cat Hoppy Amber – Conan

“Has the lightest aroma of the three, but the aroma is similar to the others. Almost identical in flavour to WLP090.”

“The most elegant of the three”

“A bit lighter flavours, similar to WLP090”

“Slight alcohol notes in aroma. Some chocolate in the flavour”

This was the beer I was looking forward to the most, and I must say I’m slightly disappointed. The aroma was definitely the weakest of the three, and the flavour and aroma profile was very similar, if not identical, to the one in the WLP090 beer, but it was much lighter. I guess the fermentation temperature was too low (17.5 C) for the typical Conan tones, which were very evident in the yeast starters. Blending a 50:50 blend between the Conan and WLP090 gave the most balanced beer.

Myrkkyluostari 1600 Combi

“Somewhat bitter smokiness, concentrated flavour”

“Quite good, but untypical. Aroma is too smokey.”

“Appearance and flavour like tervasnapsi”

“Smoke, tar, peat in aroma, light and dry flavour, featuring malt and tar, really nice”

“Tar, peat, smoke”

This was described as a rauchkölsch, but it was a lot darker than a typical kölsch. I don’t think any of us were really big fans of smoked beers, but this was nice! The smokiness was much more evident in the aroma than the flavour, which I at least liked. The finish was also quite dry and light, which was nice, as otherwise this beer would have been too heavy to drink.

Myrkkyluostari Dorée

“Tart, citrus, some funkiness in aroma, dry, crisp, and citrusy flavour, not my cup of tea, easy to drink, low bitterness “


“Not that much to say”

“Sour, non-hoppy flavour, not too sour, neutral”

“light, tart aroma”

This was when we started trying out the ‘interesting’ brews, and I apologize in advance for the poor tasting comments. We were all unfamiliar with most of these beer styles, so it was difficult to give comments, especially since we didn’t know what it was supposed to taste like. Anyways, the overall opinion of this beer was that it was easy to drink, dry and tart, but not something any of us would buy. The beer was still well made and didn’t have any off-flavours, so fans of funky and tart beers would probably love this.

Juhani’s Jonge Witte

Pihlaja candy aroma. Light flavour, low bitterness, astringent after-taste”

“Pihlaja candies in aroma”

“Orange, marmelade, and spicy aroma. Dry flavour, spicy, not as fruity. Not bad, slight candy-like flavour”

“Marmelade in aroma, flavour reminds of English Licorice”

“Aroma is a bit untypical”

Directly as we poured this up in the glass, we all felt a familiar aroma, as it was dominated by orange marmelade and candy-like tones. After some thinking,  we finally hit the nail: Pihlaja candies. The flavour was more spicy than fruity, and overall the beer worked very well. A refreshing beer that would probably work better as it gets warmer outside.

Juhani’s Chili Blond

“Apparent chili in aroma, nice appearance”

“Strong chili notes in aroma and flavour”

“Burns a little in the throat, a bit too spicy, does the chili cover up a otherwise good blond?”

“Quite nice chili bite, but unbalanced”

“Chili dominating aroma, flavour slightly spicy, fruity, phenolic, some chili burn, dry, interesting”

There was definitely a presence of chili in this brew, and overall we felt that there was even too much of it. We noticed that we were differently sensitive to the chili burn, as some of us only slightly felt it, while others thought the beer was undrinkably spicy. We thought it was an interesting beer, but something that we wouldn’t buy. Would be interesting to try out the base beer, as it would probably have worked better without the chili.

Ilkka’s Saison

“Phenolic, spicy and fruity aroma, light body with some fruitiness and spicy, slightly tart”

“Sour, a bit bland, firm bitterness”

“Seems well made, but not really my type of beer”

We felt like this was a well-made and refreshing beer, but the majority of the panel don’t like Belgian-style beers, so it was a bit difficult to get any feedback. Ilkka had warned me that this beer would feature a very apparent sulfur-smell, but none of us noticed it.

Ilkka’s Sour Saison

“Aggressively sour aroma, vinegar, almost feces-like, flavour dry and cider-like”

“Smells like feces, flavour is cidery”

“Smells like feces”

Ilkka inoculated a fraction of the previous saison with bottle dregs from various sour ales, but unfortunately we all found this beer undrinkable. The aroma was aggressively sour and featured distinct tones of feces. Yes, it smelled like after a visit to the toilet having had a really upset stomach. Not having had many sour ales earlier (only a couple of Cantillon’s), I’m not sure if this aroma is common, but this at least was off-putting.

Juhani’s Saison de Bergans

“Easy to drink”

“Aroma is like a bulk lager (Lapin Kulta)”

“Spicy, citrusy, and light body. Aroma is quite lager-like”

I apologize again for the comments becoming shorter and shorter, and less and less. What was surprising with this beer was the aroma, as it was very untypical for a saison. In fact, the beer smelled exactly like a bulk lager. I’m not sure if it is DMS, ethyl acetate, diacetyl or something completely different, but there were no spicy phenolics to be found in this. I had tried this from tap before, and I remember that it was a completely different beer. The beer was refreshing and drinkable, and the flavours were a bit more typical for the style.

Ilkka’s Citra-dryhopped Tripel

“Tropical fruits, mango, and lychee in aroma. Spicy and fruity flavour, really high carbonation, light body, a bit too much alcohol, otherwise nice!”

“Good, tasty, chili flavour?”

“Balanced, nice aroma and flavour, very nice”

“Very strong flavour, but quite well balanced, nice hoppy flavour”

The Citra hop was very apparent in this beer, and we thought the aroma was fantastic (much stronger and more ‘tropical’ than the aroma in the Citra Pale Ale we had tried earlier). The beer would probably have benefited from a slightly lower alcohol content, but otherwise this was very nice, and among the favorites of the evening.

Myrkkyluostari Vigilia

“Raisins in aroma, quite sweet and fruity, good strength”

“Coffee flavours”

“Nice color and head retention. Plums and raisins in aroma and flavour, some solvent tones, tastes quite sweet despite feeling dry, very nice.”

We moved on with stronger ales, and this Quadrupel was one of my personal favorites of the evening. The others weren’t so fond of the beer, but it was not because of any fault, rather the style. The flavor of the beer was very rich, and the alcohol was very well hidden. The appearance was beautiful as well (one of the best head retentions of the evening). This was a very well made beer, and the only thing to complain about was some slight solvent tones in the aroma, which would probably improve with further aging (which the brewer even suggested to me).

Juhani’s Quadrupel

“Surprisingly little ‘belgian’ tones, harsh alcohol and solvent tones, quite estery. Needs more age, now undrinkable.”

“Nice aroma, the flavour is quite bland and the beer is way too alcoholic”

Clocking in at 12.2% ABV, this beer was unfortunately way too alcoholic to be enjoyed. If I remember correctly this beer was brewed sometime last spring/summer, so it should be close to one year old. Hopefully some more aging will lessen some of the booziness and solvent-tones, as it was difficult to taste or smell anything else.

Ilkka’s Wild Cider

“Cidery aroma, no carbonation, quite tasty”

“Quite good”

“Funky, tart, apple, and vinegar in aroma. Crisp, dry, light, tart and apple-like flavour. Surprisingly clean.”

We were all amazed at how clean this cider was, since this cider was made by letting unpasteurized apple juice spontaneously ferment. It was quite low in carbonation level, but otherwise very drinkable, and it would probably be appreciated by cider lovers.

Myrkkyluostari Cuvée des Grands

“Funky and tart aroma, with cherry tones. Surprising flavour and mouthfeel, begins light, but grows in the mouth, difficult to describe, cider-like”

“Very strange, cidery”

“Lots of dimensions”

We continued with Myrkkyluostari’s all-brettanomyces beer and unexplored territory for all of us. Again a bit difficult for us to comment on, but the overall opinion was that the beer was a bit too funky and tart for our tastes, and that the mouthfeel was interesting. There were no technical faults with the beer though.

Myrkkyluostari Plan 9 from outer Brussels


“Sour, tastes old, strange”

“Funky and strange aroma. Quite tart, alcoholic and solventy, not my cup of tea”

Again, this beer was a bit too funky and tart for our taste, and I must honestly say I don’t remember much from this beer, other than that we thought it was a bit too strange for our tastes. It was also slightly alcoholic and solvent-like, which took away from the drinkability.

Myrkkyluostari Dead Barbie

“Phenolic, hefeweizen-like, fruity aroma, no cherries. Taste like a good hefeweizen, some undescribable herb in the aroma”

“Hefeweizen aroma, can’t taste any cherry”

This was described to us as a ‘Wheat Kriek’, but none of us could recognize any tones of cherry at all. In fact it tasted and smelled more like a typical hefe weizen. This was apparently also fermented only with Brettanomyces, and it was definitely less funky than the other beers. Not exactly sure what the brewer was aiming for, but as a hefeweizen, this was nice.

Ilkka’s IPA

“Aroma is very nice, flavour is a bit subdued”

“Nice aroma, okay, quite bitter”

“Very nice pungent hop aroma, but the flavour is slightly lacking, could use more hop flavour, but a nice firm bitterness, overall very nice.”

We moved back to the hoppy ales, and this beer was appreciated. The beer featured a massive, pungent and fruity hop aroma, but surprisingly the beer was much lighter in hop flavour. The bitterness was however very present, and you could really feel the beer exit the mouth into the throat. A nice beer, but perhaps slightly unbalanced.

Sly Cat American Barleywine

“Bitter, alcoholic”

“Sweet, fruity, and bready aroma, caramel and dried fruit flavours, moderate bitterness, not bad”

The alcohol tones of our Barleywine we brewed in December had definitely dropped, but there was still some present that prevented the beer from being completely enjoyable. The beer had quite a rich flavor and a firm bitterness, so I think this one will age quite well.

Juhani’s Barleywine

“Spicy, fruity, not typical barleywine, almost belgian-like. Sweet flavour, malty, dried fruits, mild bitterness, good.”

“Very strange flavour, quite fruity”

We agreed that this was one of Juhani’s best beers of the night, and it had a slightly ‘Belgian-style’ feel to it. The beer was quite similar to our own Barleywine, but perhaps slightly drier and with a milder bitterness. The malt bill apparently consisted of just Pilsner malt and a long boil, and it definitely made for some interesting flavors. Good beer, no technical faults!

Ilkka’s Belgian Stout

“Black, huge head, roasted with some chocolate. Dry, roasted flavour, with moderate bitterness. No tartness at all, but flavour was too dry for my liking.”

“Dark, dry, roasty”

Ilkka had apparently tried to attempt something similar to Jolly Pumpkin’s Madrugada Obscura. None of us could recognize any tartness however, and the general opinion was that the beer was a bit too roasty and dry for our likings. This would probably benefit from some aging. The appearance was nice however, and no the beer didn’t have any technical faults.

Ratto’s Oatmeal Stout

“Roasty and coffee-like aroma. Flavour is dry, astringent, roasty, coffee-like. Could use some more sweetness and will probably become better with age”

“Dirty aroma, a bit too light and dry.”

“Quite anonymous”

The last homebrew of the night was Ratto’s Oatmeal Stout, which similar to the previous beer, also was a little too dry and roasty for our likings. The brewer had warned me beforehand that the beer was quite young, so this will most likely improve with aging.

Overall, this was a very interesting evening, and luckily it continued with a couple of fantastic beers (Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar, Firestone Walker’s Parabola and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout 2012, which I will write some short tasting comments on in a future post). It was a really nice experience to try out some unconventional beers, and will definitely experiment some more with Brettanomyces and strange ingredients. Thanks to Juhani, Ilkka, O-P and Tatu for the homebrews (and Ingo for the Neb & BCS)!



Huge Homebrew Tasting

This evening I will be hosting a huge homebrew tasting for a couple of friends, and we will taste through 27 different homebrews (6 of my own). The list includes some strange beer styles and ingredients, so it will be very interesting to try them out. Will try to document and collect all the comments we have on the beers as soon as possible, so that the brewers get some feedback. I’m especially excited to parallel taste the Hoppy Ambers we brewed in January. It was quite a task to order the beers, but hopefully the following list makes sense. Tried to go from light and low bitterness, to dark and higher bitterness, keeping similar styles together, and changing styles via sour beers (as I’ve heard they ‘clean up’ the palate).

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Evening of brewing and beer tasting

Last Friday me and a group of friends joined together to brew a stove-top BIAB English Pale Ale hopped with East Kent Goldings and drink lots of good beer. We ended up making some minor improvised adjustments to the recipe in the last minute, as the hop pellets contained only 4.1% alpha acids (recipe calculated for 5% AA, so 60, 15 and 5 minute additions changed to 33 grams each) and the pots we had were 21L and 15L (meaning we mashed a little thinner than first calculated). Otherwise the brewday went quite smoothly and we hit exactly the estimated gravity when we topped up with boiled water to a total volume of 15 liters in the fermenter (we got 13.5 liters of 1.063 wort after the boil). Hopefully this turns out good! Only slight fear I have is that it will end up a little estery and have noticeable fusel alcohols, as the beer was fermented at an ambient temperature of around 22 degrees C. I didn’t take all too many pictures during the brewday, but I’ve attached the ones I did below.

Didn’t have time to take any tasting notes either, but the real gems of the day were, in the order we tried them, my Brett IPA (massive tropical fruity nose, with a nice dry and bitter finish), Port Brewing Mongo IPA (fantastic hop tones in a balanced package), Mikkeller Red/White Christmas (skeptical at first, but as the beer warmed up the combination of fruity spiciness and resiny hoppiness worked well), Three Floyds Amon Amarth (a smokey and complex imperial porter/stout), Sad Robot Tyrion (my friend Ingo’s fantastic Imperial Stout, that was packed with roasty tones in a perfect balance), my Imperial Porter (a great package of vanilla, chocolate and coffee tones, but unfortunately a little boozy on the nose) and Alesmith Old Numbskull (great combination of sweet maltiness and resiny and citrusy hoppiness). My homebrewed Belgian Blond was quite well received, while the Belgian Strong Dark Ale was still a bit boozy, hot and overly estery (hopefully this one improves with a couple of months of aging). The Black Lodge Imperial Stout was quite well received as well, but I think it could use a bit more aging. The coffee tones and roasted malts were dominating together with a resiny hoppiness, but there was a slight warming in the finish which I assume is from the chili. The disappointments of the day were Alesmith IPA (although a tasty IPA, it was nothing spectacular), Mikkeller/Cigar City Swinging Harry Tropical Quad (way too sweet), and De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis 666 (a very good beer, but had hoped for more from this as I found the base beer so great). Overall though, a group of very good beers and a fantastic night!


Beer Tasting Evening

Last Friday I arranged a small beer tasting event for some friends and we tasted through 7 of my homebrews and 11 other beers that I had hanging around in my beer storage. There were some fantastic beers during the evening and we had a good time. Here are some pictures and short notes on the beers:

The whole lineup (two of the homebrews were tasted from keg, so they are not in the picture).

First up was La Tourmente’s Blond, a belgian ale from France. The beer poured golden and had a slightly sweet and malty aroma, but it was surprisingly tasteless and bland. A good beer to start with though.

Next up was my homebrewed smoked vienna lager, which had lost a lot of its hoppiness, and now had more of a toasty and smokey edge. No off-flavors, and overall one of my favorite homebrews to date.

Then it was time for one of Alko’s 80th Anniversary beers. Prykmestar’s Hunajabock was a bit strange, I am wondering if it had started to go bad, as the aroma was a blend of honey, vinegar and mint, while the taste was sweet, malty and honey-like.

Then it was time for my homebrewed Tripel, which had aged nicely, with the spiciness and fruitiness blending together well, while the alcohol level was well hidden.

After this we tasted two homebrewed IPA/APAs straight from the keg (where they had been sitting for 6 days), and as expected with heavily dry hopped and recently kegged beer, they poured murky with a huge head. There was lots of fruity hoppiness in both beers, with the Citra leaning more towards the tropical fruits, and the Simcoe+Centennial towards grapefruits and other citrus. The beer felt a little young still, with the bitterness a little prominent still and some yeasty tones as well, but overall I find the beers very promising. Unfortunately there are no pictures of them.

Next it was time for the beer I was looking forward to the most during the evening, Cigar City’s Humidor Series IPA. There was a very prominent woodiness in both the aroma and taste, which blended together with fruity and resiny hops. The beer has been aged on Spanish Cedar, the same material used to make humidors, and one of my friends commented the beer smelled just like one. The flavors were quite well balanced, but felt the woodiness was maybe a bit too prominent.

Then it was time for a blended imperial ipa, as we tried Southern Tier’s Gemini (a 50-50 blend of their Unearthly and Hoppe). There was a lot of citrus and resin in both aroma and flavor, and this was backed up by a caramelly and quite sweet malt backbone. The bitterness was quite smooth, and felt the beer was well balanced. Really liked this one.

Next it was time to try Mikkeller’s and Three Floyd’s collaboration barleywine, Boogoop, which has been brewed with buckwheat. Haven’t tried any of the other beers in the series (Oatgoop, Hvedegoop or Ruggoop), but this was definitely leaning towards the imperial ipa category, as it was very hoppy and bitter, but backed up well by a malty and caramelly backbone.

Then it was time to try Stone’s Double Bastard (which was one of the few commercial beers of the night I had tasted before) and it also featured lots of hoppy tones, coupled with tones of caramel, red berries and even some raisins. There was some alcohol present as well.

After this we tried Brewdog’s and Three Floyd’s collaboration barleywine Bitch Please Islay, which has been brewed with peat-smoked malts and aged on Islay whisky casks. Tons of smokiness in the aroma and flavor, and it felt almost like sipping on a whisky. There was some sweet maltiness present as well, but overall a beer I wasn’t very fond of.

Then we tried three of my homebrewed imperial stouts, the breakfast stout to the left, black panther in the middle, and oak-aged black panther to the right. The breakfast stout had strong tones of coffee and dark chocolate with blended nicely together with the roasted malt tones. The black panther featured tones of roasted malt together with an earthy hoppiness, while the oak-aged version added in some vanilla tones. All of them had aged well.

Next it was time for the only Trappist beer of the evening, Rochefort 10, which featured tones of dark fruits, raisins, caramel and malt. Very smooth, and definitely different compared to the imperial stouts we just tried.

Then we tried a coffee-spiked imperial stout from Southern Tier. Jah-va, compared to the homebrewed breakfast stout, was smoother and more well balanced, with the coffee flavors merging perfectly with the roasted tones. Very easy to drink and tasty.

After this we tried one of Mikkeller’s breakfast stouts, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, which has been brewed with Kopi Luwak coffee. Compared to Jah-va, the flavors were stronger and more complex, with lots of roastiness and bitterness blending with coffee and chocolate tones.

The last beer of the evening was Brewdog’s Tokyo*. The beer was completely pitch-black and the flavor featured tones of roasted malts, coffee, red berries and sweet caramel. The alcohol was surprisingly well hidden for being a 18.2% beer. Nice way to end the evening.

Thanks to everyone who made it!

Beer Tasting Evening

Yesterday, me and my friend Marcus, organized a small beer tasting event for our student society. We were a total of 25 people at the tasting and we tasted through a total of 12 beers. We tried to cover the basic range of beer styles, since the majority of the participants were not beer geeks. Another criteria was that the majority of the beers should be available to buy from Alko, Finland’s alcohol monopoly. The beers and styles we tasted were:

1. Harboe Lager – Pale Lager
2. Pilsner Urquell – Pilsner
3. Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel – Dark Lager
4. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen – Hefeweizen
5. Chimay Blue – Belgian Strong Dark Ale
6. Fuller’s ESB – Extra Special Bitter
7. Brewdog Punk IPA – American IPA
8. Brewdog Hardcore IPA – Imperial IPA
9. Lindemans Kriek – Fruit Lambic
10. Sinebrychoff Porter – Baltic Porter
11. De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis – Imperial Stout
12. Brewdog Tactical Nuclear Penguin – ‘Eised’ Imperial Stout

The whole line-up, unfortunately taken with my camera phone.

After the tasting, the participants got to vote for their three favorites, and the five beers that got the most votes were:
1. Brewdog Punk IPA – 41p
2. Brewdog Hardcore IPA – 21p
3. Fuller’s ESB – 20p
4. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen – 12p
5. Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel – 8p

My own personal favorites from the evening were Hardcore IPA and Hel & Verdoemenis.