Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reviewing Homebrew

Up until now the only homebrew I have tried is my own, of course not including my father's efforts when I was about 11 - I did enjoy pouring half pints from the polypins! However, when my friend Saruman came over from Ireland last week he brought the following homebrew with him:
  • BitterBock
  • Dark Cerveza
  • Wheat

Saruman has recently upgraded his brewing operations from kits, which the three beers above are based on, to extract with speciality grains. At present my beers are extract with speciality grains and although I plan eventually to go all-grain, I like the ease of this method while I get the hang of the boiling and fermenting stages.

Anyway, on to Saruman's beer, which I have again used the Cyclops system for evaluating.

Bitterbock - an interesting idea where he mixed together a bitter kit and a bock kit, then fermented it with a Danstar Windsor Ale yeast.

  • sight - very dark, brown at the edges, tan head
  • smell - cocoa, citrus, floral
  • taste - bitter, crisp, dry
  • sweet - 2/5
  • bitter - 2/5

An interesting beer, almost like a lemony porter which would be, as Ron would take great ironic delight in saying, "not true to style", but still drinkable and as I put it in my notes "porter-lite" (yes Americanisms are creeping in to my world).

Dark Cerveza - again Saruman messed around with the kit, and instead of using sugar as instructed, he halved the fermentables between light and dark dry malt extract.

  • sight - dark orange. slightly off-white head
  • smell - malty, light fruit, oranges
  • taste - tangy, marmelade
  • sweet - 2/5
  • bitter - 2.5/5

On a hot summer day, a few of these straight from the cooler (more Americanisms!) would be very refreshing. I am not sure if sour is a normal thing to find in a Mexican cerveza, but it worked quite well in this beer.

The last of the beers was a wheat, which we included in our Eurovision Wheat Contest - more of which tomorrow.

  • sight - light orange, thin white head
  • smell - slightly smokey, mild citrus
  • taste - malty, quite syrupy
  • sweet - 2.5/5
  • bitter - 1/5

This was probably the weakest of the three as I felt it was somewhat flat and you could tell it was from a beer kit, however it would make a decent drink over a barbecue (random thought - can you barbecue black pudding?).

One thing that came up with each of the beers was a certain maltiness, almost sweetness, which belied the fact that the beers were made from a kit - I also found this with my EDM. I am sure than Saruman will derive greater pleasure from going to extract and speciality grains, and look forward to seeing what he comes up with.


  1. Most Mexican beers (that I've had) don't have much sourness. They pretty much mirror the typical American lagers albiet some are slightly better. I enjoy Bohemia (guess that could be a nod to the Czech Republic) and Negro Modelo. Not great but enjoyable.

    I've never had any homebrew but am trying to remedy that.

  2. Negra Modelo would be my beer of choice at a Mexican restaurant in the US.

  3. Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Amber are two decent choices at the Mexican dining establishments over here. I'd stay away from the pale lager stuff.

    And Al, if you're interested in going all-grain, there are a ton of online resources that will help you along the way, and if you're looking for sources or have questions you can always give me a shout. There can be a lot to sort through, especially online, but if you don't complicate things it's still just as fun as extract/specialty. And there's more to geek out on.

  4. I opened my bottle of Limelight when I got home. It was sunny out and I had just brought home a 5L keg of Grafenwalder wheat beer from Lidl and tapped it (but need to let it settle in my cooler till later). Anyway it put me in mind of a wheat beer so I opened yours and the force almost took my eye out and it started foaming out. The carbonation was perfect but perhaps there was a little more liquid in this bottle which is why.
    Anyway the point is, It was lovely and even my wife liked it this time.

  5. The second batch was certainly much better.


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