We come to the final beer. Always a sad occasion but in this case happy because this is my favorite of the quintet.
It is the boldest of the group. The spice is there on the nose and follows through with a bang in the flavor. Some might find the nutmeg and clove too much or cloying but I think it works. It is a bit on the soda side because the base beer isn’t muscular (which is the tweak I would recommend).
Why I like it is because it delivers on the promise of the name. The other four had failings of not enough. Which is not a problem here. Plus I like the spice profile already so I was inclined to like this one the most.
What I love about tasting home brew is to see the idea of a beer at the beginning. I certainly saw more germs of a finished beer that I liked than didn’t which I was not surprised about considering the source. All of the beers just needed tweaks. No tear downs here.
The tour of home brew continues on with the Coffee and Donut Milk Stout. Hopefully it is meant to pair with and not taste like, the name.
This is the murkiest pour of the bunch so far. Brown and black swirls with an espresso head to it. Big pop when the Grolsch top was opened. The initial hit was quite carbonated but it calmed down as it warmed. Bit of a tar taste to this one. Less coffee and donut and more coffee and cigarettes. Not in a disagreeable way though. There is also an undercurrent of sweetness here too.
And that is the one-two combo of this beer. Tar roast and a bit of sweet. Maybe paired with a BBQ or as an after dinner in a snifter beer.
Our next stop is also in DTLA but this beer hall / home brew store seems closer to coming to fruition. It is Barrel Down and let’s hear what they have to say about their plans……
Of the three home brews that I have tried in January, this is the best. By far. The cardamom is here! Unlike the absent spruce and sage from earlier beers.
This ale is less carbonated and zippy but also has much less of the honey that pulled focus from the first two beers. And as you can see from the photo, it was a bit of a gusher. A slow one thankfully. The aroma is a hit on the sweet side. Nice cereal taste here. The color is a bit fuzzy but with home brew that isn’t as much a concern as flavor for me. This is nice and simple but I wish the spice was even stronger. These days it takes a lot to break through my worn out palate and I could use an extra burst of cardamom.
Next up in the home brew reviews of January is the Honey Sage Saison
This concoction pours a lovely orange mimosa color. With a bit of haze and a prettu cap of foam on top. The aroma is a mixture of bread, honey and yeast. A mixture that doesn’t quite work for me. The taste veers from a splash of orange to farmhouse before settling in on honey. It isn’t thick or sticky like honey on the palate but it is close, (saved by some bubbly carbonation) and it certainly reminds me of opening the bear shaped honey container.
Much like the previous spruce ale, I’m afraid that the spice component, sage that I was looking for has gone missing though. It would have added a nice counterpoint / compliment to the honey. Surprisingly more dry than sweet, which I like.
Of the two, I would choose the Spruce over the Honey Sage. I am looking forward to the darker beers coming.
So, the backstory. A dear friend has been home brewing all of last year and (hopefully into) 2015. For Christmas, I received bottle after bottle. OK, five all told. It was an awesome gift. I highly recommend giving that gift to me even if you don’t know me.
I will be reviewing all of them this month and first on the docket is the Spruce Ale.
The label is a bit smudged but believe me, it is a spruce beer. The beer is a hazy orange/red mixture with a big ol’ head of foam on it. The smell is a bit too sweet. Almost like a cough syrup. Any spruce notes have to be waited on but really only emerge a skosh in the taste. The taste is sweet as well even after warming. Not quite cherry but maybe spiced holiday cherry flavor. Little bit of fruitcake notes as well.
Overall, it needs more spruce and the sugar is too high. A little recalibration and further taste testing are in order.
Each year at the Great American Beer Festival, the new winners of the Sam Adams Longshot competition are unveiled. Below are the three beers that we will see and taste in 2015.
Greg Rasmussen’s Robust Porter: “This traditional robust porter is full of complex malt flavors. The variety of malts in this beer contribute flavors of cocoa, coffee, toffee, and slight vanilla to create a wonderful roasted yet balanced beer. This gorgeous mahogany porter has a roasty and chocolate aroma. The beer is complemented by slight citrus and earthy notes from the US and UK hops.”
Matthew Knott’s Classic Rauchbier: “This deep copper colored Rauchbier has all of the flavors you would expect in this traditional style: smoky, slightly savory with a malty sweetness and roastiness. The smoky flavors are balanced by a light toffee malt character and slight citrus from the hops. The brew finishes with a lingering smokiness, sweetness and subtle hop character.
John Marra’s Dunkelweiss: This beer is brewed with a traditional Bavarian yeast that contributes to the variety of aromas and flavors. The aroma is characterized with notes of tropical fruits and clove. The malted wheat contributes a bright clean cereal note, which complements the spicy flavors of clove, nutmeg, banana and a slight sweetness.”
The Dunkelweiss is the one of the three that I am most looking forward to but kudos for selecting a Rauchbier.
A) I know the home brewer whose recipe this beer is based on
B) I had this beer at the Kick-Off Festival for L.A. Beer Week (at the end and my taste buds were shot) and I wasn’t blown away by it.
That being said, I wanted to go back and re-visit this beer with a fresh palate. So here is a second taste and first review on the blog of Longevity Baltic Porter from Eagle Rock Brewery & the Maltose Falcons home brew club.
The Porter pours a dark and inky black with streaks of brown to it. There are a mixture of roast, tobacco and chocolate notes on the nose that are quite nice. It did take a few sniffs to figure out exactly what was coming through to me even though the aroma is fairly potent.
The texture is quite light and very drinkable. The most dominant flavor to me is smoke with hints of a sweet cola underneath. This is no rauch bier by any means but that taste of smoke is certainly there.
This is one of those styles that may not be to my taste. It is well done but the smoke notes are a distraction to my palate.
If you are in the mood to try other Baltic Porters then check out Flying Dog’s Gonzo Porter, Victory’s Baltic Thunder or Baltika #6.
Last year, Angel City Brewery received 270+ ideas for their first ‘What Would You Brew?’ contest. The winner was one of my favorite beers and it was Mexican Cola inspired!
This year’s winner will be selected in October 2014 and that lucky brewer will have:
A) “opportunity to spend a day in the brew house brewing alongside the Angel City team”
B) “have their beer featured during LA Beer Week 2015
C) receive a custom kegerator, complete with a case of pint glasses, tap handle and tin tacker sign. Ideas can be submitted here: . Entries will be accepted through September 30, 2014.
Emily Finch, and her Mexican Cola beer will make a return in a “rum barrel aged version” at the LA Beer Week Kick Off September 20th at Old Chinatown Plaza, as well as on tap at the Angel City Public House.
With the unlikely selling name of PicoBrew, this automated home brewing system may tempt many a person into the brewing at home game. As they call it, “the espresso machine of beer”. Technology is advancing to the point where even I might be able to brew at home.