Tag Archives: Ian J Simmonds

Another APA – Review

Another APA ready to drink

Another APA in the glass and ready to drink

As promised, I’ve tried Another APA from my good mate Ian.

Plenty of stone fruit aroma. Mix of peach and nectarine that’s been stewed for a few hours. That big, but not sweet, fruit hit on the nose. Plus this is a smell that doesn’t drop away.

Flavour wise the first thing to note is the exact tastes you would expect from the aroma. Stewed fruit from start to end. Some sort of spice/earth flavour in there. It kind of builds but then doesn’t come out fully. There’s a bitterness towards the back which is welcome. The beer is slightly tart at the very end which isn’t what I expected. Not a huge amount of body, about what you would expect from this type of Pale Ale

As the beer warms the stewed flavours settle a fair bit. The bitterness builds and the tart finish becomes more metallic. There’s even a hit of dryness as the body drops away. Not sure of the alcohol percentage in this, mainly because Ian doesn’t measure it. My guess would be around 4.5% to 5% as it’s quite easy to sink it quickly.

Food wise, not sure what to match to this. Initially I thought some roast pork. But the more I have it makes me want to have something both light and spicy. Maybe Thai or Vietnamese food.

This is an easy to drink beer. Except the finish. Not sure why that is but a quick Google later and I think there might be some DMS (Dimethyl Sulfides) issues with this beer. Ian, fix that and you’ve got a very nice beer.

-Mikey

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When you don’t brew, go brew

Chas is still overseas having fun and tasting beers. I’m still naively waiting on the Super Stout. So… what to do when not brewing? Help a mate with his brew!

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparge

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparging away with hot liqueur pot, mash tun, pump and boiling pot

Last weekend here in Melbourne was a long weekend thanks to Queen’s Birthday public holiday. No, it’s not her Birthday, the holiday is about something else. Anyway.

On Saturday I went around to my mate Michael‘s place. He’s been doing all grain for a while. Last time I was there I had to leave early and missed a few things. This time I was there from start to (nearly) the very end. This was a very long day. Started at 10:30 am and at 5:15 pm both the airing of the wort and pitching of the yeast were still left to do. That’s one very long brew day for a home brew.

Like last time Michael was doing a Belgian quad, which didn’t work out that well. This time a Strong Belgian Golden Ale, which hopefully turns out well. The process was mainly the same. Fist heat the water for the mash and then put that in the mash tun. Grain goes in, stir and wait. Recirculate the liquid to settle the grain bed. Next was a bit different. Fly sparge rather than batch sparge. What you do is slowly drip water over the top while letting the liquid drain out the bottom. Apparently, if done right you get a better conversion (getting sugars from the grains) than batch sparing.

Hop leaf

Hop leaf in a hop bag

Boil was next. A long boil as Michael needed to reduce volume. After that was done a hop bag with loose leaf hop flowers went in. I’ve never seen loose leaf hops before. Most people I know use pellets. Had a taste and wasn’t sure what to think about them. Interesting, but not sure if it’s for me.

The chilling was very cool (pun fully intended). Michael has a counter flow plate chiller. Brew goes in one end and out the other, while cold tap water goes in the reverse direction in a different channel. Long story short, lots of liquid moves really quickly and your brew gets chilled a lot.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled with pot and plate chiller

Like I said, had to leave before the brew was aerated or the yeast pitched. But, you can get an idea from the photos how much goes on. Lots of steps and lots of equipment. I have to say, I’m slightly jealous of all the equipment. But that’s offset by the idea of having to (a) take so long to make a beer and (b) that thought of cleaning all that equipment.

Then Monday went around to my good mate Ian‘s place. He wanted to do An American Brown Ale. Something nice to have over the cooler months. And, to be completely different to the all grain brew, it was an all extract brew.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done, except aeration and yeast

For this brew I was there from the very start to the very end. Plus it was a lot quicker. Dry malt extract and hop pellets measured out. Boil the water, first addition of dry malt, hot break, add hops 1, add hops 2, add hops 3 and the last of the dry malt. Then onto chilling, which went a lot quicker than expected. We chilled it so well that it was almost too cool to pitch the yeats. But before the yeast went in I made Ian take a gravity reading. Hopefully this means we’ll known the alcohol percentage on his beer.

An American Brown done

An American Brown done and ready to start fermenting

Thinking back on the long weekend, I’m not sure which brew day I enjoyed more. They were both laid back in their own way. Ian’s was pretty easy, but a fair few things on one after the other. And once it was all done we hung out for a while which was fun. The brew day at Michael’s was a lot longer. And as a lot of steps took a chunk of time there was plenty of down time. That said it was also a lot more complex and a few things were nearly missed. One thing I know for sure, brew days are fun.

-Mikey

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Correction, beer reviews were wrong

Sorry Ian. I stuffed up your beer reviews.

The last couple reviews I did were for the wrong beers. The 2014 APA was reviewed as ESB 2014 and and ESB 2014 was reviewed as Another APA. Whoops.

Ian corrected me yesterday. Those two reviews have now been edited to the correct beer names. In sort, 2014 APA is not so great and ESB 2014 is very good.

In my defence of the mistakes, the labelling system put me off. Rather than putting codes or name of what beer, Ian uses date bottled. And I’m always putting on date brewed. Anyway.

On a side note, I now have a proper bottle of Another APA. Hoping to get a review of that up within a week.

-Mikey

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ESB 2014 – Review

UPDATE: 10 June 2014.
Whoops, I originally thought this was the Another APA. I’ve recently found out this was actually the ESB 2014. Review updated to reflect that.

ESB 2014 ready to drink

ESB 2014 in the glass and ready to drink

My good mate Ian made few brews earlier this year that he wasn’t so happy with. Then in March he made some more beers that he was happy with. The second one that I’ve tried is the ESB 2014.

Really nice tropical smell to this beer. Hints of pineapple with nice floral sweetness.

Smooth up front. Sweet and rounded. Good fruit salad tastes. Bitterness isn’t that strong as the hops are more about the fruit and wood flavours. Malt is a light pale and helps support the malt. Sort of caramel hints. Very easy drinking.

This is a very good beer. I’ve liked it from the start. As it’s warmed up it became softer and smoother, making it even easier to drink. Not sure if I’d call this an ESB as there’s a lot of fruit and isn’t that bitter. That said once warmed up it is a lot closer.

Food matching, I would say some kind of lightly grilled or barbecued meat. Something like lamb with herbs. The sweetness of the lamb would match the soft sweet flavours of the beer.

Good beer. Ian, make more of this.

-Mikey

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2014 APA – Review

UPDATE: 10 June 2014. Whoops, I originally thought this was the ESB 2014. I’ve recently found out this was actually the 2014 APA. Review updated to reflect that.

2014 APA ready to drink

2014 APA in the glass and ready to drink

My good mate Ian made few brews earlier this year that he wasn’t so happy with. Then in March he started made some more beers that he was happy with. The first one that I’ve tried is the 2014 APA. That stands for American Pale Ale.

First thing I notice is the aroma. There’s a bit of egg smell in there, but also the soft malt with a hint of earth smell and hint of stone fruit.

First flavour hit is an earthy malt bite with a touch of sweetness. The bite is clearly from the hops and comes in on the side of the mouth rather than the front. The eggy smell comes out a bit in the flavour. This isn’t something you would expect in an APA. The hop flavour here is both a mix of earth and spice. No real big bitterness feel, but sort of still there. Some very soft sweetness from this as well. The flavours are a complex mix.

Early on, this beer wasn’t doing much for me, but the impressive thing about this beer is what happens when it warms up. It gets a fair bit better. For an APA that’s not necessarily a great thing. The complex mix settles down a fair bit and becomes a lot easier to drink. There’s even an soft apricot flavour finish on this. This is hard for me to match to food. I would have to say Sheppard’s pie or similar big pub food.

-Mikey

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