Monday, September 14, 2009

Dropping the baton, taking up the Challenger

I am not the kind of person to only talk about my successes, I am perfectly happy to admit my failures as well. The fact that my Copper Head Pale Ale turned out so poorly is not something for me to worry about unduly, but rather an opportunity to try and do it better next time because I am convinced that I have a good recipe in the making. Where did it go wrong? Well if I want to use the passive voice I could simply say that the yeast didn't do its thing, if I want to be honest about it, I probably failed to give the yeast good conditions in which to do its thing. Leading contenders at the moment are pitching temperature and aeration, too much and too little respectively. As you no doubt recall, I decided to bottle half the batch anyway and see what happened in the three weeks it usually takes to condition properly. So here goes.

The colour is just what I wanted, a nice rich amber which almost makes me think of breakfast marmelade. Not much head to speak of, and that which was there disappeared fairly sharpish, but the carbonation was decent. The nose is dominated by malt, which is not what I was looking for having used Amarillo hops. In fact it kind of reminds me of the smell you get from a beer soaked rug, not good but redolent with happy, if drunken, memories. Tastewise, very bland, nothing really going on at all, except for a light orangey citrus thing in the finish. The body is a rather thin, something I generally don't like in a beer, so this is not something I would happily drink. A failure for sure, but then it is only brew number 4 in my career so far, it is about time I had something bad happen - especially given the fact I have a somewhat rough and ready approach to brewing and have yet to afford some of the fancy gizmos that seem to be de rigeur.

Undeterred, I am plotting my next couple of brews, having decided to go back to really small batches of about 6.5 litres at a time so I am not throwing money and beer needlessly down the sick. One of the beers likely to be made in the next round of brew days will be an homage to Pete Brown's Hops and Glory, Challenger IPA. For some reason Northdown hops are not available in my local home brew shop, or through Northern Brewer, so I will substitute the Northdown used in his Calcutta IPA with Challenger. Obviously I won't be booking myself on a cargo ship to go to India, as tempting as that would be, but it will be aging for a few months in my storage room, ready I guess for February next year.

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