Greetings to all, it’s your old friend Cryptogrind here with another installment of Brewology! The culmination of lots of hard work, careful monitoring, and a liberal amounts of grains and hops finally reached the palate this past weekend, and we were all eagerly anticipating this day. So what better way to celebrate than a party with ribs, brats, and other assorted meats? Oh yes, there were plenty of grilled veggie alternatives for our vegan friend Shilling. Food, friends, good tunes, and homebrew … all the makings of an excellent day.
If you’ve been following the Brewology articles, you will recall that the homebrew in questions was an ESB … or so we thought. After some research into this type of recipe, it could more accurately be labeled as an ESB/English Brown hybrid. The good folks over at Victor’s Grape Arbor put together some tasty looking recipe kits based on their own house recipes, which is where this particular brew came to light. My personal tastes also led me to this beer; plus, knowing the friends I’d be sharing this particular brew with, I figured it would be a solid bet for a first homebrew attempt. And it certainly yielded enjoyable results.
With Shilling, Stoutmeister, and E-Rock all in attendance, we proceeded to pop a few bottles and have our first taste. Upon first appearance, you immediately noticed that this was a rich beer with a color that gravitated towards the dark amber side of the spectrum. It had a thick head, with an appropriate level of carbonation for the style. The aromas gravitated towards the nut varieties; everyone seemed to agree it possessed the comforting and tasty aroma of banana nut bread. Upon first taste you will get a few of the characteristics of an ESB, but those are quickly taken over by a smooth malty coating on the entire palate that left a pleasant, lingering medley of grains. The mouth feel was somewhat thick and rich, which subsides after a few seconds to a mellow malty sensation. The Kent Golding hops are present in the beginning, as are the Hallerteau hops at the finish, albeit in an extremely subtle way.
After several were passed around to the other members of our shindig, the general consensus was that this was a surprisingly easy drinking beer, considering the richness. My first impression upon the first few sips was that it starts off a bit shy, but leaves with smile and laughter once that pint or bottle is empty. At an estimated 5.5-percent ABV, this is a brew that won’t leave you having to call a friend or a taxi after only a pint or two. After tasting this, I considered boiling some of our delicious brats in a bit of the ESB before throwing them on the grill, but ultimately decided I would simply enjoy it straight from the bottle. Overall, everyone enjoyed the drinkability and the overall flavor of my first homebrew, and I couldn’t be happier to make that claim.
At the same time, Shilling has been bitten by the homebrewing bug himself, and has started the process of brewing his very own red ale. As for myself, I also jumped right back into the fermenter (so to speak), and began a batch of a style I am a huge fan of — a delicious vanilla porter. I wanted to stick to something that would match the spring season, but I could not resist the urge to brew a nice complex beer with a lot of grain variety (and those oh-so-soothing vanilla beans). Brewing and primary fermentation has already commenced on both of these brews, so I will keep you posted on the progress in the coming weeks. Until next time, I bid you a tall, frothy, cold one!