Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tasting Notes of Kathleen Round 2!

I'm finally getting around to posting the tasting notes of the latest batch of Kathleen.  I've been very excited with how this beer turned out.  The brewing notes and recipe can be found here.  I bottled a portion of this beer clean just how it fermented out.  I also blended four gallons of it with a mature eighteen month old "lambic style" pale sour.

Fresh Unblended portion:

ABV: 6.1%
SG:  1.048 or 11.91°P
FG:  1.002 or 0.51°P
Apparent Attenuation:  96%
Actual Attenuation:  78%

Appearance:  Straw yellow and slightly hazy.  Solid white head full of very small bubbles.  Pretty good head retention as I drank through the glass.  Average lacing as well.

Aroma:  Light hay, a bit of grain, hint of green grass and a touch of citrus.  Slight herbal, or medicinal aroma but nothing overpowering but just there at a lower level.

Flavor:  Pilsner grain, soft lemony tartness,  green grass, and a touch of pear.  The pear is like really unripened pear or other green fruits. 

Mouthfeel:  Medium to medium full mouthfeel.  Good carbonation that cleans the palate. Really dry with a sort of slickness to it.  Reminds me of 3711 in a way.  

Overall:  Very drinkable beer with a lot of great notes.  I would like a little more hop presence but overall, I really enjoy this beer.  I think with 3726 or 565 it will really shine.  ECY-08 is a great yeast but I think I prefer the flavor profiles of the others more.  The yeast blend really reminds me of 3711.  It is very good but the fact that it is hard to get regularly and that I prefer my other strains means I probably won't spring for it again.  I am glad I was able to finally get a vial to try out.  I have ECY-14 that I will look forward to using as well.  I'll keep the 08 around for some other potential projects.

Bière de Coupage portion:

The blended portion came in just under 6% around 5.88% ABV.  It consisted of 4 gallons of fresh Saison and 1 gallon of mature sour blonde.  The sour blonde was 16 months old and had a grist of 60/40 Pilsner and white wheat.  Fermented with Wyeast Lambic blend and a plethora of bottle dregs from that brew day.

I thought the light was better when I took these pics.  Apparently I was wrong.

Appearance:  Light golden in color with a pure white head that starts strong and fades to a cap as you drink.  Surprisingly clearer than the unblended portion.  Decent lacing but both head retention and lacing could be better.

Aroma:  Green grass, hint of tropical fruit like pineapple, dry hay, touch of pepper, and a light lemony tartness.

Flavor:  Earthy and a bit of pepper spice are the first noticeable things.  Then a bit of citrus flavor and slight tartness again like a lemony flavor.  Pear and more tropical fruit notes than in the nose or the unblended portion.  Pineapple and maybe a bit of other tropical fruits.  Very slight hint of funk but more earthy than anything.

Mouthfeel:  Medium mouthfeel.  Slightly less full than the unblended portion.  The slickness is not as apparent though.  Carbonation is nice and lively.

Overall:  I'm very happy with how this blend turned out.  I think the base beer is great alone but the blending of the mature beer adds a brightness to it with the hint of acidity and also added in an earthiness that wasn't as prevalent in the unblended part.  Fruity tones seem to be amplified as well.  I'm curious as to how this will age so I'll keep a few bottles back and see where it is down the road.

The base recipe for Kathleen has gone through many changes.  Before I even gave it a name, I had brewed this beer with varying portions of specialty grains and even different base grains.  I know now that I want to always stick with Pilsner for the base grain.  The notes here confirm that I am happy with that for a base.  The pale ale base malt left way too much residual sugars and sweet flavors even when the beer was very dry and well attenuated.  I'm also fairly happy with the specialty grains as well.  Using either rye or spelt around 10% mark adds very nice mouthfeel when paired with the flaked oats.  The torrified or raw wheat also adds body and a decent amount of head retention.  The specialty grains allow the beer to not feel overly thin or watery since apparent attenuation usually reaches high 90s.

A few changes I would like to make to the base is to increase the bitterness and hop presence.  Both the unblended and the blended portions lacked a bitterness I would like to have.  The hop aromas are there but could stand to be a little more apparent.  I have altered the hop bill to reflect this and will be brewing it again with these changes.

A bit on Bière de Coupage:

The blending or "cutting" of fresh, hoppy beer with a portion of mature aged beer is a process called Bière de Coupage.  There are a few breweries that practice this technique.  It adds a layer of complexity and the blend can often bring out qualities of each beer you didn't notice before.  It will also alter the evolution of the beer in the bottle.  You can start out with a fresh, hoppy, bitter beer that has a hint of tartness in the background.  Over time the beer will go through stages of change.  The hop presence will fade, bitterness will soften, sourness can increase, and a character of funk from brettanomyces (if it's used in the blend) will begin to come forward.  It is a very fun process to watch the beer go through.

After Garrett Crowell and Adrienne Ballou were on the Sour Hour, I shot an email over to them as I was not able to ask my question about their Bière de Coupage process while the show was on air.  Garrett was very helpful and gave me a look into their process.  You can find what Garrett said on the Jester King page in the Milk the Funk wiki.  Very interesting stuff!

Amos Browne of Browne and Bitter has also done an article on blending beer and highlights a bit of Bière de Coupage in his posts here.  Amos, Michael Thorpe of Spontaneous Funk, and Ed Coffey of Ales of the Riverwards all have some great posts and information on blending beers.  Some of them are fresh beer blended with mature beer and others are on blending different ages of sour beers together clean as well as with different fruits.  Check them out!


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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