Category Archives: Brown Ale

A Year in Brews

Hard to believe, but it’s been over a year since Andrew and I started brewing. Things have gone much better than I had originally imagined, and I’m enjoying myself even more than I would have thought possible.

In celebration, here’s a rundown of the brews we’ve made and how they turned out:

  • Porter (P1) — Our first attempt, 1 1/2 gallons short and a little weird, but drinkable. Ah, sweet success!
  • Stout (S1) — Tasty, and especially excellent after the “passable” port
  • Trappist Ale (T1) — Kit was a Christmas gift. Very nice, with the bubble gum/banana fruitness expected of the variety.
  • Nut Brown (B1) — First real failure… just turned out with a weird flavor, overly foamy.
  • Porter (P2) — Fantastic redux on the porter. One of my favorite batches.
  • Irish Red (R1) — Good red color, nice flavor, a solid entry.
  • West Coast Stout (S2) — Great stout. When I found one more six-pack of it recently in the utility room, I actually cheered.
  • Habanero Amber (H1) — Solid Amber ale + habanero kick. Not kill-your-taste-buds-off hot, but you definitely need another drink by the end of it.
  • Belgian Wit (W1) — Our lightest beer yet. Expected more of a spiciness from the coriander and orange zest, but drinkable.
  • IPA (I1) — Enter the hops! Not quite as light as many IPA’s in color, but good flavor.
  • Stout (S3) — Another good stout. Intended for gift-giving (really, I will give it away soon once it’s rested enough!)
  • Porter (P3) — Ditto the S3. Good porter effort, but not long for my home unfortunately.
  • Porter (PB) –Arg, busted thermometer screwed the batch!
  • Porter (PB’) — Still in the carboys, but it’s the “baby porter” for after my wife can drink again.
  • Stout (SB/S4) — Stout base for a bourbon spiked stout. Still in the primary, but hopes are high!

All in all, far more success on that list than I expected getting into the brewing game. Plenty of other challenges ahead, but then the rewards make it all worthwhile.

Keep brewing out there folks!

Brown in bottles, Porter in the pot

Although the blog may have gone quiet for a bit, the brewing certainly hasn’t around here. This past weekend we started up our fifth batch–a redux on the initial porter, which we badly botched since we didn’t add enough water back.

Our last effort, the brown, has been in bottles for a couple weeks, but hasn’t gotten the real taste-test yet. The first sip we took at bottling time was okay, and has us wondering what the end product will taste like. However, time does a significant amount to change the character of any home-brewed beer, so I’m still hopeful.

The past month or so of sitting has done a lot to enhance the Trappist-style ale. A lot of the sharpness has worn off. It has a significantly fruity taste, a sweet bubble-gum/banana smell (which is the hallmark of this type of brew), and only a bit too much hoppy bitterness that’s out of the ordinary.

More brewing stories here to come, but for the moment I’m just going to savor the sound of the porter bubbling away in the next room. Ahh, it’s like beautiful music.

Stout!

This last weekend was another bottle and brew–Trappist-style ale going into the bottles, and a nut brown ale brewing. My friend Brian was in town, and brown ales are his favorite variety, so we took the opportunity to start a batch and share the joy of brewing.

But beyond that, it was the moment of truth for our second effort. The stout had been in the bottles a couple weeks. Not long enough to reach their full potential maybe, but long enough to give it a try.

After our passable porter, I was anxious over how the stout would turn out. We fixed the rookie mistakes we made the first time around (i.e. filled the bucket to the full 5 gallon mark, duh!) and at the bottling things looked good. But the proof is in the drinking, so we cracked open three bottles.

First good sign was the aroma. Our inaugural porter had a funky, almost sour scent to it (reminded me of the bottle room when I worked at Albertsons… not a good thing). The stout by contrast smelled nice and beery, just like a stout ought to. Carbonation level was a positive too, some foaming but nothing out of control.

And the taste? Bingo! It had the dark, rich, full bodied flavor I look for in a stout. It is still pretty fresh, so there’s a zip that a few more patient weeks should smooth out, but overall it was more than just passable. Here’s a beer I can gladly share with friends and not feel the need to qualify, “Remember, it’s my first batch!”

Ah, success!