Appearance: Golden yellow with dense white head (the photo above has some deceptive white balance). Very good clarity. I have no idea why, but this grain bill seems to clear up really well, despite very cloudy runnings.
Smell: Hoppy and sweet. Pine, floral, and citrus/orange are all mixed in there. The dry hop aroma fades quickly over the weeks, so it’s no longer the hop bomb it was initially.
Taste: Light and crisp grain flavours provide a background for the hops, which are what it’s all about. Light bodied, dry, and effervescent. No lingering crystal, just a simple bitter and slightly tart finish.
Overall: This is exactly the kind of pale ale I want to make. It’s so simple, light bodied and dry that I doubt it would do well in competition, but when it comes to hoppy beer, I like them really dry. Next time, I might add a little something to the grain bill to give it a bit more body, or just mash at a bit higher temperature to try and keep the dryness but add a bit of body.
Appearance: Very very dark brown. Dense tan coloured head.
Smell: Roasted grain, caramel, and a little bit of chocolate, with essentially no hop aroma. Some dried fruit and molasses/toffee starts to come through once you get closer to the bottom of the glass. I think the 200g of smoked malt is perfect, it’s very subtle.
Taste: Just delicious. This one is a bit drier than the last, but other than that, there’s not much change here, clearly the same recipe as the earlier version.
Overall: Once again, one of the best Ive made. I’m not sure which iteration I like better, this one or the last. I think that next time, I’ll stick with the ‘two vials, no starter’ approach, and add a bit of lighter crystal into the mix.
Appearance: Effervescent cloudy copper brown. Very nice head retention.
Smell: Malty and sweet are mixed in there, but predominantly phenolic. Not in a good way either, sort of hot, peppery, and medicinal.
Taste: Again, very predominantly phenolic. It’s certainly spicy and vaguely clove-like, but really more like an intense rye spiciness. I find it very overwhelming, and the malt flavours really take a back seat. A little on the dry side of balanced, with very nice body given the high level of carbonation.
Overall: This is a strange brew indeed, and the first batch which I’m calling a failure and pouring out bottles of. The yeast produced so much sulphur during fermentation and such an intensely phenolic beer. On the upside, the appearance and mouthfeel are great, and there’s a lot of malt flavour in there if you’re looking for it. I think the recipe is a good one to redo in the fall, using a more conventional weizen strain like WLP300.
Appearance: Slightly effervescent muddy red brown. Head retention not good.
Smell: Sulphuric, sour and yeasty.
Taste: Brown sugar, bread, and apples (this is a bit surprising, but it’s undeniably in there) all come to mind. Notable carbonation that cuts the sweetness a little bit. But still, this is a quite sweet drink.
Overall: This is much like what I expected homemade kvas to taste like. I enjoy it, but it’s not really an experiment, since the WLP001 I pitched wasn’t responsible for fermentation. This is still a mystery to me. Perhaps it got a little too cold in the fridge and the yeast froze? Upon opening the highly pressurized bottle, the bread yeast sediment was immediately kicked up into suspension, so the initial few glasses were extremely yeasty. I would recommend letting the bottle sit in the fridge for a bit after venting it, and even then, possibly pouring through a paper towel.
Appearance: Yep. Looks like stout. Very very dark brown with thick, persistent tan coloured head kicked up using the syringe trick.
Smell: Very mild, slightly sweet, with no detectable hops. This yeast seems quite subdued, in terms of the aroma. (Guest taster describes slight milky/vanilla/marshmallow)
Taste: Again subdued. Slightly roasty, but I would have liked more oomph. Imagine a very mild vanilla-choco-frappucino. Some classic british ale type sweetness in there, though no dark crystal flavours.
Overall: No flaws, but there’s just not enough there to be great. This probably goes back to the milling issue on brew day. I wouldn’t change the proportions in the grain bill at all, but I would scale it up by a factor of 1.2 or 1.3, and mill the dark grains separately using an extremely tight gap.
Appearance: Amber colour; a bit lighter than it appears above. Not much haze (I’m sure there will be none after another six weeks in the fridge). Head retention a little lacking by my usual standards, much like Saison des Pluies.
Smell: Nice balance between sweet fresh grain, phenolic belgian yeast that’s not too assertive, and just a hint of the spices.
Taste: Spices much more apparent. Peppery and slightly citrusy coriander like flavours. Fairly high carbonation as intended. Velvety texture with medium body. Slightly bitter aftertaste with just a hint of pepper heat.
Overall: Quite good, but I would call this a spice beer. The spice level is not overpowering, but it does undeniably take center stage, which I did not intend. For that reason, I wouldn’t consider this recipe a success. It’s certainly not a good Rare Vos clone. Next time, I’d cut the spice addition in half, and pitch a yeast that produces more fruity esters.
Appearance: Apricot coloured, quite hazy (note that two months later it was brilliantly clear, this seems to be the case in general with everything I brew) and highly effervescent. Dense and creamy white head, more in line with my expectations than the head on the last saison was.
Smell: Very much like last summer’s Saison De La Mer. A little bit peppery, but yeasty fruity citrus and orange aromas are quite prominent. The hops are certainly making a significant contribution here.
Taste: Initially sweeter and more full bodied than you would expect given the 1.006 FG. There’s a mild earthy flavour and some tartness, with a dry finish. The spicy sweet rye comes through well, and I expect that’s what’s making it seem bigger than the numbers suggest.
Overall: Fruity, yeasty, and refreshing. The light body and dryness typical of a saison was exaggerated in the peppery, crisp, and clear Saison Des Pluies. This one has more hints of fruit and a touch of earthiness to it, and the carbonation level is perfect. I’m not sure which I like more.