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Archive for the ‘Tasting’ Category

As we had some guests round on Tuesday, we opened one of the half bottles of Strawberry wine, os that the girls could have a glass each with their meal:

(Please forgive the quality of the last few images on here – my camera is still full of holiday pictures and I keep having to delete pictures to make just enough space for the odd beer blog picture. They all looked ok on the little camera screen, but I didn’t have the space to take 2 or 3 like I normally would, just in case.)

After only a few days, its no surprise the wine tasted much as it did on bottling day. Its definitely not a wine lovers wine, but its sweet and tasty, though still with a very slight chemically after taste. It certainly went down very well with the girls.

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Tasting the Merlot

As intented, with today’s Sunday lunch, I had a glass of the Merlot that I bottled yesterday.

As you can see, it looks the part. Tastes pretty good too 🙂

I am really pleased to report that this is definitely a decent quality Merlot. I’m very pleasantly surprised. It already has a complex, fairly deep flavour with a pleasant oaky after taste. There is a very very minor chemically taste right at the end, but I’m sure this will fade completely as the wine matures. If the flavour improves further it really will be a great wine.

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Tasting the IPA

My first brew has now had over two months in the bottle. After throwing away the Light as detailed in the post below, I decided to see how the IPA is now. I opened one of the beers bottled in the cheap lager bottles (and my initial suspicions with these bottles is that they don’t develop the flavour quite as well as the thicker bottles, but its too earlier to tell really – and Im not sure if there could be any logical reason for this). The initial sweetness had mellowed nicely, so while still a little sweet, it is no longer overly so. It is definitely a refreshing summer beer. There is a noticeable subtle taste that reflects the fine flavour Phil’s IPA produced, but mine doesn’t have the depth or breadth of flavours he produced from the same kit.

Overall, I’m not too disappointed with this brew. I was my first brew, it suffered from major temperature problems because of the heating issues in my house, and it has still produced something pleasant and drinkable.

The real test will be of the stout that I will hopefully bottle at the weekend – another brew where Phil and I have done the exact same brew. If this one doesn’t turn out similar to Phil’s, I will start playing around with my brewing, warm week and maturing temperatures to see if I can improve the final product.

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Oh dear 😦 Phil and I cracked open the first 2 bottles of the 3 week old Linthwaite Light. It is not good. I find it hard to describe it, other than to say it had a very cheap beer taste and smell. There was a, perhaps yeasty, taste that hits you almost before its even in your mouth and then very little else after that. Phil politely finished his pint, but I ended up chucking mine down the sink. It doesn’t really have much of a green taste so Im not even that hopeful tat it will improve dramatically with age, but I shall leave it well alone now for probably another month and see if anything good comes of it. (My judgement probably wasn’t helped by having just finished a bottle of Phil’s Colne Valley which was really good, and having just returned from a trip to Brussels and all the fine beer that comes with that.)

[edited]

I forgot to mention that this was the brew that spent 6 weeks in the fermenter – I don’t know if this could be part of the problem with this brew.

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With Phil and another mate, Chris, round on Tuesday, I decided it was time to crack open a few more bottles of the IPA, and see how its doing at the 4 week (since bottling) stage. I seem to be swinging back and forth with my thoughts on my first brew as I’m back to being a bit disappointed. It hasn’t really changed since last week, so while it is nicely fizzy, and with a pleasant and mild taste, it still doesn’t have the depth of taste that Phil’s IPA had. I’m comforting myself with the fact that the best of his were at least a couple of months old. It still looks pretty good though:

3rd Taste of Munton’s IPA

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Three weeks after bottling the IPA, and a couple of weeks since the first (very early and slightly disappointing) tasting, I decided it was time for another go. I hoped this time, given we are approaching the 4 week mark where some suggest the beer should be at its best, the beer would be much more enjoyable. Phil (of Phil Norton’s Brewing Blog in my blogroll) had come round for the evening, so I popped open a bottle and poured the contents into two rather unmanly glasses and took a picture:

Munton’s IPA Second Tasting

With the previous tasting, I took one of the beers which was bottled last, and so contained a great deal of sediment. This time, I went for one of the first to be bottled. The cap came off with no noticeable fizz, which concerned me, given my fear that all the sugar had dropped and so the earlier beers might not have been primed, but as I poured a very pleasant head appeared. The beer had also cleared nicely, giving what I felt to be a very attractive looking beer, all be it a little dark for an IPA.

The beer had only a subtle smell, but still a pleasant slightly fruity smell as before. Now for the tasting… mmmmm, thats a tasty beer 🙂 I am really pleased with the results. While it is a fraction sweeter than I would choose, it is a really nice tasting IPA. It is nicely fizzed, though I hope it doesn’t get any fizzier. The taste is subtle but very enjoyable. There are plenty of flavours, but none are too strong or overpowering. Only the sweetness prevents you from considering it for a heavy session, but I could easily see mates downing a few over a relaxing evening. In fact, having had just a small glass each, I cracked open another bottle for Phil and I shortly afterwards. (This second bottle was the other silver topped bottle, so the last one bottled, but it was fairly indistinguishable from the first bottle to be honest.)

I am putting the slight over sweetness in the beer down to the boiler related temperature issues preventing me quite reaching the target gravity. However, this simply makes it a pleasant and relaxing post-meal kind of beer, which I am sure I will enjoy over the next month or two. I now intent to dig up a box or two to put away perhaps as many as 20 bottles so that I cannot be tempted to drink them all over the coming months. This should free me up to pick from the rest as I wish. I will also be taking a number of bottles to a family do towards the end of March, and will be interested to see how they go down.

Over the coming months I will continue to monitor and report on the beer as it matures. As always this will serve as a record to myself, and hopefully will be of interests to readers of this blog too.

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First IPA Tasting

I debated when to open the first bottle of my very first home brewed beer. I had intended originally to leave it at least one month, but some expert advice stated that it could be at its peak after as little as 4 weeks. This advice went against my experience when tasting Phil’s homebrew (see my blogroll), as it seemed to get better and better up to at least 9 months in some cases, and not being close to its best until it had been in the bottles for 3 or 4 months.

My uneducated theory on these time differences is that it may be the case that after around 4 weeks, some of the strongest flavours like the hops and bitterness begin to fade slowly. However, other flavours grow as the beer matures. Therefore as time goes by you get a deeper, more blended and more well rounded beer, which to my personal pallet, is much more favourable.

Getting back to the point, I decided that as this is my first beer, I need to learn as much as possible about the phases the beer goes through, so opening a few of my 42 beers before the beer is at its best will be worth it. So, on Friday, 10 days after the beer had been bottled, I opened my first one.

First IPA Taste

I opened the very last bottle I bottled (one with a gold cap if you read the bottling post here). This would therefore have had a number of the lumps of yeast in. There was also the chance that it had extra priming sugar in, given I had intended to leave the beer with the priming sugar mixed in for around 30 minutes, but it had well over an hour as I cleaned all the bottles.

There was a pleasant fizzing sound as I popped off the cap. I poured it carefully and no head really appeared until I straightened the glass to pour the final third in, but even then it was just a very short-lived co2 head and was gone in 30 seconds. There were lots of bubbles rising in the beer to start with. As the picture shows, the beer was very dark, and not very clear at all. The aroma was pleasant, though very mild. I would say it was a slightly fruity smell.

When I finally tasted the beer, I was rather disappointed. It had very little flavour at all – barely anything to have an opinion on. It was pleasantly fizzy, but perhaps already slightly more fizzy than I would want an ale like this to be. There was a very slight after taste to the beer. It wasn’t very noticeable, but I might describe it as a slightly yeasty taste. The beer was also quite sweet. This made it hard to drink.

My overall feeling currently is disappointment, but I still have some hope for this beer. This was after all the last beer bottled, so the the yeasty taste, the fizz and the sweetness could all be explained by this. The desired flavour I hope will come with time, as will clarity. I intend to leave it a couple of weeks before opening another one, which will be one of the first I bottled.

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