Surprisingly Not Bad (Q3 Tasting Notes)

A half-pint of Q3

So my grocery store challenge beer – named Q3 (q-cubed; Quinoxic Quaffable Quinoa), has been kegged for two weeks and is ready for a first sampling.  The official ‘unveiling’ to my brew club is still three weeks away, but I had a half-bottle left and wanted to be sure I wasn’t poisoning my fellow homebrewers.

This does not smell at all like a beer – not that I expected it too.  Because this was brewed without hops, there is no hop aroma; nor is there much of the maltiness you would expect.  Much to my delight, there also was not the strong lactic acid odour I was expecting, due to the lactic acid fermentation that occurred during malting.

So what does this smell like – much as you’d expect from the recipe.  The aroma is not strong, but anise and sage are the predominant notes.  The combination is citrusy, reminding me a little of a orange liquor.  Honey is detectable in the back-notes, providing a bit of sweetnesss to the aroma.

This beer has a nice golden-coppery colour, and is cloudy like a hefeweizen.  The beer pours with a thin, short-lived head (this will hopefully improve with age).  In the glass, this looks more like a sparkling wine or cider than a beer, as the bottom of the glass gets layered with a thin films of bubbles while little accumulates on top.  The little bit of head that forms is comprised of larger, coarser bubbles than would be normal for beer.

The flavour of this brew is surprising – not at all the barely palatable beverage I was expecting. The flavour is mild and easy-on-the-tongue.  Honey and anise are the major flavours, although small amounts of sage come through.  These are layered over a unique flavour that I can only assume comes from the quinoa – almost a weak nuttiness or bread-like flavour.  The yeast don’t seem to have imparted much of a fingerprint on the beer – none of the flavours I would associate with yeast (esters, diacetyl, etc) are apparent – unless they are part of the spicy/fruity flavours imparted by the sage & anise.

The mouthfeel of this ‘beer’ is most un-beerlike.  It is very thin – similar to a cider or mead – but was expected given the low finishing gravity of the beer (1.006).  The carbonation is much finer & more effervescent than a beer, producing a sensation more akin to a champaign, cider or sparkling mead.

Overall, I’m not entirely sure I made a beer – this is not an overtly beer-like concoction.  But it is not unpleasant – in fact, if it wasn’t so much work & so damned expensive, this would make a nice summer drink to enjoy on the dock while watching the sunset – with ice.

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