Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

first brew . . . first post

The Contender "Bridgette Brew" next to the Champ, "S.N. Pale Ale"
A month ago, I brought home a Mr. Brew kit, and after hitting Walmart for the necessary tools, I set about creating my first home brew.  The kit comes with a standard Pale Ale recipe, which I imagine is the most fool proof beer recipe that they have.  I meticulously followed the instructions, and within an hour, I had a keg of the stuff fermenting under my bathroom sink.   Not wanting to do something totally simple, I added a little ginger to the wort, so that I could have something a little more distinctive.

The key to creating good home brew is patience.  The longer the whole process draws out, the better quality the product at the end. For this batch,  I tried to do that.  I let the beer ferment for about 12 days, and after bottling, it's been conditioning for 18 days.  I let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of days as well.  

Poured and Ready to taste
So last night was the first tasting.  In order to have some basis of comparison, I purchased a six pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I've come to appreciate Pale Ale's and Sierra Nevada's is a crisp, straightforward standard bearer for the style.  I figured that it was important to have some sort of basis for comparison.  I didn't expect my beer to taste the same as the S.N.P.A., and I knew that it wouldn't taste better, but it would help me to get a sense of whether or not I had created something drinkable.

So, I began sampling.  First, I tried the S.N.P.A. The taste was light, crisp, and not overly bitter.  S.N.P.A. is a very balanced Pale Ale.  Pale Ale can get overdone in my opinion.  Many brewers try to up the ante when it comes to the hops, which can create an overly bitter beer.  While I do like the hoppy flavor on occasion,  I had gotten away from the Pale Ale's for a long time, for this very reason. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale seems to be somewhat less bitter to me, which is a good thing.  

Then it was on to my beer, which I named Bridgette Brew, in honor of our family's new Shi-Tzu puppy.  I slowly opened the bottle, and was greeted by the slight hiss of a well carbonated beer (more on the carbonation later).  As I poured it into the glass, it appeared to be much lighter than the S.N.P.A., but after a moment, it seemed about the same.  The beer's aroma was pleasant, kind of what you would expect from any craft beer.  I took a drink and . . .

Okay, here's my analysis:
First and foremost, it tasted good.  There was definitely nothing wrong about the way the beer tasted, nothing spoiled, no skunkiness, no bacteria or infection.  That said, you can tell that it's a  "young" beer. It was much like the Sierra Nevada in many ways, with two notable exceptions: the ginger and the carbonation. For this first tasting, the ginger flavor is upfront, fades a little, and then finishes a little sour.  It isn't overwhelming, and doesn't destroy the beer, but I get the sense that with a little more conditioning, the ginger will blend into the beer further.  At the moment, it almost seems like something apart.  If you've ever tried a chili beer, you know what I'm talking about.  A "good" chili beer has the subtle flavor of the chili's in the mix.  It feels like a contribution to the beer.  However, a lot of chili beer's don't do this.  It's almost as if someone developed a "chili" extract, and added it to the mix.  The ginger flavor in my beer is somewhere in between right now.  Not a total interloper, but not quite part of the brew yet either.  I will be anxious to see how this evolves in a couple of weeks, after further conditioning.

The second distinction that I noticed was somewhat different, and that had to do with carbonation.  I noticed that my home brew seemed a tad more carbonated than the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This doesn't detract from the beer really though, so I don't see it as much of a factor.  

A good beer, that may get better
All in all, this first foray into the world of home brewing has been positive.  I'm excited about ordering up a new batch, and I may go with an amber ale for my next beer.  I'd also like to try a slightly more complex recipe for next time, to see how that works out.  Stay tuned and I'll be sure to update the results of this one, after a little more conditioning, as well as tell you about what's coming next. 

Update (2/12/2012): Since this posting, I've opened a few more bottles including the latest one yesterday.  The beer has continued to condition nicely, and the ginger taste is still present, but has mellowed considerably.  This last bottle conditioned for a month and then went into the fridge for about 4-5 days before tasting.  I plan on keeping one bottle at least for a while, so that I can enjoy it with my brother at some point.

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