This post is one part of a two-part piece (the other being a video) I’ve put together as part of my 20th anniversary as a home brewer – a milestone I hit a few weeks ago – December 5, 2016 to be exact.
To celebrate this milestone I set myself three goals – to prepare a video looking back on 20 years of brewing (embedded below, or available at my youtube page), to brew a 20% ABV beer to drink on my 20th brew-versary (recipe/brewday here, detailed brewing and tasting notes below the fold), and the biggest challenge of them all – I rebrewed the first beer I ever made, applying my 20 years of experience, to see if I could make a palatable version of that venerable brew (the brewing of which can be found in the video embedded below, tasting notes to follow sometime in early 2017).
Ironically, somewhere along the line I lost track of the true date of my brew-versary, and in many previous posts listed it as December 9…turns out the true first brew day was on a loose-leaf piece of paper jammed in the back of my old log book – a page I found with only weeks to spare, and containing a completely different (yet equally cheap) canned-malt kit beer.
If you don’t want to listen to me ramble on for 20-ish minutes about brewing, that take home from my retrospective video is:
- The on-line brewing community has grown dramatically, and for the better.
- Ingredients are better and more plentiful.
- Equipment and techniques have evolved, generally for the better.
Ambrosio, The Fallen Monk
|Starting a 4 hour boil on the stove, because its too|
cold outside for propane
The goal of this beer is pretty straight forward – I wanted a Belgian-inspired beer with 1% ABV for every year I’ve been a homebrewer. As described in the recipe/brew-day post about this beer, I over-designed this beer so that I would get a 22-24% ABV beer if it attenuated as per the norms of the yeast I was using…an unlikely event given the high gravity (I ended up with 20.65% ABV…so its a good thing I over-brewed).
Days 6 and 8: Yeast was roused as on days 3-5.
~10 days post-brewday: WLP099 starter was decanted and added to the beer, along with 2 teaspoons of wyeast yeast nutrient.
25 days post-brewday: Beer’s gravity had stabilized (with ~ 10 points left to go), so beer was transferred to a carboy and capped the carboy with an airlock.
5 months post-brewday: Beer had fermented the final 10 points, and as such the beer was moved to my cellar (~10C) for long-term aging.
1 year, 8 months post-brewday: Beer was transferred to two purged kegs and force-carbonated to 2.5 volumes. Once carbonated, beer was bottled and placed back into the cellar for long-term storage.
1 year, 9 months, 20 days post-brewday: My brew-versary, and the “theoretical” first taste of this beer.
Aroma: An intense malt character dominates the aroma of this beer, behind which a plum-like fruitiness is apparent. Despite the high alcohol, there is no “hot” aroma or solvent-like notes.
Flavour: When cold, this beer is intensely malty, dominantly sweet, with only subtle hints of any yeast character in the background. As the beer warms these yeast characters come out more – dominated by stone fruit character (plums or dates), but with some subtle pepper-like phenolics. When you first take a sip the only indication of the high alcohol content is a subtle tingling heat on the back of your tongue; when swallowed this turns into a lingering heat in the back of the throat and a warm feeling in your belly. Overarching all of these flavours are flavours typical of vintage beers – notably a combination of sherry and port note from oxidation, and a more dried-fruit character to the ester component of the beer. The aftertaste is a long, lingering sweetness and a warmness in your stomach that can persist for hours.
Mouthfeel: Thick and luxurious, with a slight tingling sensation from the carbonation and alcohol.
Overall: The high sweetness and complex flavour of this beer makes it a great digestif to follow a meal, or to enjoy late at nigh while listening to music in the dark. The same characteristics make it a difficult beer to quaff a pint or two – a half-filled wine glass is the idea serving size. I do wish this beer was a little less sweet – something that could have been achieved by using simple sugars for 20% to 30% of the fermentables – but otherwise this beer came out much as I expected. An enjoyable beer – and one which should age well and be enjoyed for many years. I guess 20 years of brewing experience does pay off!