Last Monday, James from A Homebrew Log wrote about three of my beers I had given him, and so today I return the favour and write about three of his beers. When we traded beers, he gave me a bottled conditioned saison, an award winning Octoberfest lager and his amber ale featuring homegrown Galena hops. In my fridge, I still had James' Inferno Chili Lager and his cider (proper cider that is, you know, the kind with alcohol).
James had given me a heads up that the saison had only been in the bottle a couple of weeks, so I am leaving that to condition further, and the cider I am planning a comparative tasting next to our cider, which is now a year in the bottle, and of the still variety rather than sparkling. That left me three beers to sample, so without further ado.....
First in to the ring is the Inferno Chili Lager.
If you read this blog regularly you'll know that I tried Eric's, of Relentless Thirst renown, poblano honey chilli ale a while back, so I was expecting something similar here - gently heat rising as the drinking went on. The beer poured a light copper colour and topped off with a thinnish, but persistent white head. The aroma was pure chilli, backed up by a touch of caramel sweetness, but it was chilli in the driving seat. Oh boy, clearly the driving seat this chilli is sitting in is for an Aston Martin because the flavour ramps it up big time, this is a spicy beer. Again there was a toffee thing in the background which just took the heat off a smidge, but hot chillies is the order of the day, a warm start which just builds and builds. If you like chillies, which thankfully I do, this is a really good beer.
Round two was James' American Amber Ale. As you can see from the picture, the beer is a dark amber with a billowing off white head. As you would expect from a beer using American hops, the nose was dominated by pine and citrus, but there was a sweet fruitiness lingering in the background. Tastewise, the beer was malty up front, the sweetness of caramel malt coming through and then being balanced out nicely by a healthy hoppy bite. This was a beer I could happily drink all night in the pub and drink plenty of, a very nice beer again.
Yesterday after working in the Starr Hill tasting room, I got home to a ready cooked dinner and decided to launch into the third of James' beers - the other two were enjoyed on Saturday. The Octo-Berfest, which won silver at the Virginia Beer Blitz, is obviously an Oktoberfest style lager, and had a fun label that made me wish I had an ounce of artistic ability. The beer itself was deep copper, the ivory head fed by a constant stream of carbonation. The nose was the classic noble hop aromas, floral and grassy with a slight edge of lemon, there was also a touch of caramel sweetness coming through as well. The malty, caramel sweetness was a major player in the drinking, backed with a firm bready quality that really worked well. Infinitely easy to drink and the alcohol was very well integrated. I don't often do this, but this beer would pair very well with a curried pumpkin soup and pot roasted venison served with fresh green beans, which is just as well, as that was dinner last night!
Once again James has come up trumps with his homebrew and more than ever I am glad that the entries I took down to South Carolina for him are not in the same categories as any of my beers! One thing I am learning is that Virginia is not only blessed with excellent commercial breweries, but also some excellent homebrewers as well.