Before our porter tasting up in Santa Barbara, Gray and I met up at Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria for an ocean view and a preparatory pint.
A beautiful day, as usual, on the coast.
I got a small pint of their Nut Brown Ale – a light, slightly thin-bodied brown ale with a toasty back-end and crisp finish with a gentle hop bite.
I also got a preview from the brewer, Shaun, of their upcoming Big Island Imperial Pale Ale straight from the fermentor. Dave, the guy working the taps, polished up last year’s bottle for me. This beer is brewed on the first of the year, every year. It’s a smooth sip with a nice punch of hops in the end and will be pretty high up there in ABV. I think I heard someone mention it’ll end up around 10%?
Grayson got Jubilee Ale – a sweet, malty beer with a full aroma of caramel and dried fruits.
After enjoying a relaxing hour and a half there, we headed off to stuff ourselves with mass amounts of Indian food and ready our stomachs for a night of porter tasting!
I’m fairly certain that we got an affected Anchor Porter – all I could smell was green apple (acetaldehyde – the sign of a young beer that hasn’t matured fully) and the taste was similar to the aroma. After reading about it on Beer Advocate and seeing everyone list it as “coffee, chocolate, roasty” I’m fairly certain that something was wrong with it. I’ll be going to another store to try this one again in the future. My favorite of the evening was Shipyard’s Imperial Porter – a rich porter that pours a dark mahogany with a long lasting tan head, a sweet aroma of brown sugar and currants with a matching flavor full of burnt sugar, hints of mocha and dried fruits with a slightly spicy finish. This beer also fit the BJCP descriptions almost to a tee, which is one of the purposes of these tastings – trying to distinguish between the sub-styles of so many beers.
Now back to burying myself in Tasting Beer and the draft system manual again! So much to learn!
On Monday, Cyrena Nouzille offered up an off-flavor tasting at Ladyface Alehouse to those who were serious about learning. Needless to say, I was in attendance in preparation for my Cicerone test and just because I love learning everything beer.
I came geekily-prepared.
Unfortunately, my notes were not enough to prepare me for the horror that was ahead. We began with oxidation in Ladyface’s La Blonde. Have you ever chewed on an old tube of lipstick? Well, why haven’t you? Do that and you’ll know exactly how this beer smelled and tasted. Horrifying.
DMS – This one was tough for me. I couldn’t really smell or taste the cooked-corn/canned vegetable when the beer was cold. After about ten minutes, the beer started to warm up and I got a disgusting facepunch of DMS.
Diacetyl was another one I had trouble with when it was cold. The only thing I could notice was a slickness on the tongue. Once it warmed up, the aroma of butter and buttery popcorn flavor was impossible not to notice!
The Siebel kit comes with 24 different off-flavor vials. We went through eight of the most common.
Acetaldehyde – an apple aroma/flavor: sign of a young or “green” beer. Mercaptan – sewage aroma/flavor: sign of autolysis (death of yeast). Metallic – metallic (durr) flavor: sign of minerals in the brew water/old brewery equipment. Isovaleric – sweaty socks aroma/flavor: sign of stale and oxidized hops. Microbial infection – slightly sweet/sour funk (actually similar to some saisons I’ve had): sign of nasty bacteria . Papery – stale lipstick aroma/flavor: sign of oxidization. DMS – cooked corn/vegetal aroma/flavor: sign of wort that’s been cooled too slowly/closed kettle during the boil. Diacetyl – buttery/butterscotch aroma/flavor: sign of weak or stressed yeast.
We had a group of about eight people for the tasting, plus another three who came in later to partake.
For some reason, the pitchers didn’t get finished. No idea why that was.
After the trauma had worn off a few days later, I worked an event with Enegren Brewing out in downtown LA.
Just for kicks, here’s a picture of me carrying a 50lb keg on my (now bruised) shoulder whilst wearing heels and a skirt. I’m bomb like that.
Happy Saturday! I’m off to a client’s house for gourmet food and red wine!