Tag Archives: Taste

Matt’s Pumpkin Ale – review

So it’s a new year and it’s time to get brewing again, and reviewing some new brews.  My mate Matt made a pumpkin ale awhile ago and gave me one to try.

Matt gave me the beer well before Christmas and told me I wasn’t to drink it until after the New Year, this was tough at first but then I forgot that it was in the cupboard conditioning.  I remembered it a couple days ago and put it in the fridge and forgot about it again!  Then I remembered it today while at work and dreamed about tasting this beer for the rest of the day.  I was not let down.

I was a bit worried at first because there was very little carbonation and no head when I poured it.  I had trouble at first getting any real aroma…

After giving the beer a minute to breath, the scent really came through though.  The beer was sweet and fruity with quite a bit of apple; it almost smelled like a cider.  I had to look hard but I found a little bit of pumpkin in there too.  The smell of the beer was very crisp.

This crispness continued in the first sip.  For an ale this was a very crisp beer, it was almost like a lager in its crispness.  That being said there was still a lot of body in the beer and it was surprisingly thick and full.

In the flavour, I still had trouble finding finding pumpkin but the fruit flavours continued, especially the apple.  The beer was quite sweet and this interacted well with the hops.  The bitterness had a long feel to it and sat nicely at the back of the mouth while I was sipping the beer.  The sweetness would come through while the bitterness just sat there to counteract it.  Because of this the beer was really pushing towards feeling like a pilsner rather than an ale, but the body gave it away.

The overall hoppyness was great and quite big, which is only to be expected from someone like Matt: he loves his hops.  It was very well balanced between outright bitter and fruitier flavours.  Hints of floral were in there as well.  Matt really selected his hops well and I think he’s got a talent for it.  The hops seemed very intentional and well thought out.

I think this beer would be very sessionable, even though it is fairly heavy and surprisingly bitter after knocking back a bottle.  I was also amazed at how refreshing it was; I think this was due to the beer being just bitter enough to have a bit of a zing but not being overpowering.  Given the style, I was quite surprised.

The only criticism I have is that the sweetness could be dialed back a little bit.  Perhaps the pumpkin contributed to the sweetness, but unfortunately I couldn’t find much pumpkin.  Maybe if the pumpkin was prepared a different way it would make all the difference.

I’d like to try this beer with pork belly and apple sauce.  It would go well with any heavier white meat really, or a gamey white meat as well.  But pork would be optimal!


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Mangrove Jack’s Mildy Dark – review

While I was on my holiday, Mikey did a brew of Mangrove Jack’s Mildly Dark all on his own.  This was a simple extract kit with a few other things thrown in to make it a dark.  Judging from the recipe, Mikey threw a couple extra malts in here, and, if I remember correctly, Mikey mentioned he had trouble getting everything to ferment.

Because of this, the beer took a little longer than usual to condition in the bottle as well.  We tried it a couple weeks ago and it wasn’t quite ready.  We tried it again over the weekend and it was definitely ready.

mildly darkOn the colour, it was a good dark brown with a bit of red when held up to the light.  Dark, but not murky.  It was almost a brown ale in colour, but I’d consider it over the line to be a “dark” ale.

The smell was great and interesting, with quite a bit in there.  The main things in there were toffee, citrus, and apple.  The interaction of the apple and the citrus was great, and really complimented the toffee smells well.  When I really stuck my nose in there, I also was able to find a little bit of chocolate in there too.

The taste was great and easy.  The beer was quite obviously hopped, but mildly so, with the malt really taking the foreground.  Gladly, the apple came through in the taste as well, which interacted with the malt quite well.  Mixed in among this was a bit of a licorice taste  with a tiny bit of molasses as well.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot at the end to really round out the flavour, which I would have really liked to see; just something to round everything out.  I think if an additional taste hop had been added, a little bit of complexity could have been added in the finish.  The kit that Mikey made didn’t call for any additional hopping, but had he added something mild, it would have been welcome.

I think this beer would go well with a nice hard cheese.  It’s a fairly sweet beer, but not overly so.  A hard, but fairly mild cheese would be a great way to accompany this beer.

– Chas

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Chocolate Paradise Porter (with coffee) – Review

A little while ago, we modified the standard BrewSmith Chocolate Paradise Porter to contain coffee.  For those interested, the original Chocoalte Paradise Porter brew is here, while the review is here.

Overall, the beer turned out great.  We only made twelve bottles, and by the time tasting day came around, there were only three bottles left because Mikey’s wife (AKA Manager for Change Management/Director of Art Direction for this blog) had made her way through the rest of it!  I think she enjoyed it…

Anyway, the original taste prior to bottling was encouraging, although there was a lot of coffee in there, and it was slightly overwhelming.  After the beer was allowed to condition for a few weeks in the bottle, the overpowering flavours calmed down quite a bit.

20130707_153019The coffee was still quite obvious at first, and it really sat in my mouth.  This died down after awhile though and I started to get used to it, which allowed the other flavours to come out.  As the coffee died down, the brown sugar (which was another addition to the recipe) began to come out, but only slightly.  The brown sugar was more of a tease than an actual taste: it never came to the front.

The smoke, which was apparent in the original recipe, added a great twist as well.  It really began to compete with the coffee and add some a great interaction of different flavours.

Unfortunately, all of this tended to mask the chocolate somewhat.  The chocolate was still, but hard to find, and didn’t come out until the beer was allowed to breath for a bit.

In regards to smell, the beer was nowhere near as fragrant as it was with the original recipe.  As I mentioned, the taste before bottling had quite a bit of coffee to it, but the strong coffee smell went away with conditioning; I was really hoping for lots of coffee and peat to it, but it wasn’t there unless you really went looking for it.  There was also a little bit of spice and brown sugar in there to.  Although very subdued, the beer smelled fantastic.  I would have liked the nose to be bigger though.

All in all, this beer was full of great things, and they all complimented each other well.  It was great that there were different layers of flavour, some very obvious, some very subtle.  Sometimes the taste of something would come out of nowhere, and then wouldn’t return on the next sip.  It was a great and surprising beer.

Finally, it was great to see how a few very simple modifications could dramatically change a beer.  The original was good, the modification was better.



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Thomas Coopers Heritage Lager #2 – Review

While Mikey has been quite good with his updates lately, especially with his ongoing Journey to Home Brew story, I have been quite slack.  We hadn’t done a proper brew in a couple weeks (I did bottle the Friedlieb Porter last weekend though), and I’ve just been generally busy/worn out.

Anyway, I got through all of that and had a weekend of home brew!  Not only was a hopped cider AND a stout made, but we also managed to bottle some brown ale, and the remainder of the lager, plus we tried four brews that are finally ready for drinking.  Mikey will be writing up the stout brew and reviewing two of the beers, I’ll write up the cider and reviewing the other two.

So, rather than one huge update with all of this, I’ll be trickling the updates out, starting with the review of the Thomas Coopers Heritage Lager here.

Mikey and I both got the same starter kit that came with the same can of Thomas Coopers Heritage Lager.  We made my can first and followed the directions to simply add a kilogram of dextrose to the wort.  While the beer turned out fairly OK, it wasn’t the most amazing thing either of us ever had.  So since Mikey had the same kit, we decided to try it with some malt rather than dextrose.

All in all, the addition of the malt made for a much better, more well rounded beer.20130707_151143

The beer was a fairly standard lager: there was nothing that stood out or was of any amazing interest.  The body was quite good though, there was a nice finish, and quite a lot of fragrance.

On the nose, there was a ton of fruit and a bit of sweetness.  This fruit continued on the first impression of the taste.  It was almost a passion fruit taste, but without the typical sourness associated with passion fruit.  With this was also the distinct taste of melon.

The beer had very little bitterness to it.  In my opinion, the addition of some bitterness would have been beneficial.  While the fruit was a lot of fun and made the beer light and easy to drink, that’s all there was to it.  With the addition of some bitterness, the dominant fruit flavours would hopefully have been countered, adding a little complexity to the beer.

On that note, the beer tapered off quite quickly after that.

Overall, the beer was simple, but very easily drinkable.  A lager can be difficult to rave about or go to deeply into.  They generally lack complexity and this beer was no exception.  I’ll happily continue to drink it though!


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