Saturday, June 15, 2013

My First Homebrew! (Which doesn't suck!)

Today I'm going to change things up just a bit, for I will be looking at my very own homebrew! As for a review, I have something special in-store so stay tuned!

For my birthday last year, I received a homebrew kit from Northern Brewer and it came with a starter kit for some Caribou Slobber, which is Northern Brewer's clone of Big Sky's Moose Drool. Well, about 3 weeks after I got it, I tried my hand at homebrewing. Upon taking my first sip, I quickly realized something went horribly wrong. I was expecting a nice brown ale, but instead I got a rather sour, lemon-like flavor that reminded me of a Berlin Weisse. I love my Wild Ales and all, but this was horrible! Using my CSI-like detective work, I pinpointed where I had botched it up completely.

Amongst my missteps:
  • Boiled for way too long
  • Possible contamination of equipment
  • Improperly bottled the beer, caps were attached loosely instead of being secured properly
  • Left it in the below freezing temperatures of our garage.
Reeling from my failure, I sort of forgot about homebrewing and moved on with other things that were happening in my life at that point.

Fast forward 6 months later, I am moving my stuff around the house and noticed my homebrew kit was amongst the boxes I was moving. I opened the box, saw my equipment, which had gathered dust and I said to myself "Eh, why not?" I made the drive over to Northern Brewer and picked up a couple of kits to try out and experiment with. I picked up a Sierra Madre Pale Ale & White House Honey Porter kit to experiment with, so I decided to try out the Sierra Madre kit first to see how it would go this time.

Sierra Madre is Northern Brewer's answer to the West Coast Style Pale Ale. When brewing this, there were 4 hop additions added into this. Since I'm not 100% familiar with what hops do what or what they taste like (aside from Fuggle Hops), I could only assume it would have a citrus like characteristic to it.

Even though it's wort, it's already better than my first failed batch.

After letting it boil, cool off and siphoning the beer into the jug (AND making sure that I avoided the pitfalls of before), I wiped the sweat off my brow and had a beer after the process. 2 weeks later, it came time to siphon the beer into the bottle and bottling it correctly.

Well, here we are 4 weeks after I first started the brewing process and finally able to try out the result of my efforts.


Well it certainly has a different smell to it; It has some very strong caramel malt notes and the hops are very fresh-smelling! But I'm not getting any sourness, so....yay for progress? Well enough stalling, let's taste the damn thing; You know.....for science!

Pretty much like the taste, very strong caramel malts up front and the citra-hop taste is very fresh but not quite as strong as the caramelized malts, in fact the combined flavors give it an almost Mango-Like quality to it. Fruity-tasting with a bit of caramel and piney hops! Body is more on the heavy side, and the carbonation is mild.

I thought it was pretty good, all things considered. It tasted like a Pale Ale, albeit a bit more fruity than I'm used to. I'm also not sure what the ABV on this is, but I got a good buzz going after having a bottle of this stuff.

Wanting a second opinion on my efforts, I gave one to my stepdad to see what he thought of it as he has homebrew experience. His verdict? For a first timer, very good and tasty. A little maltier than most Pale Ales out there but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Overall, I'm glad it turned alot better than my last effort. This Monday I will be bottling my White House Honey Porter and will have a look at that once it's been bottle conditioned long enough.


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