Sunday, January 22, 2012

My First Homebrew - Red Ale

Ever since I discovered craft beer, I have had an urge to try and make products in the comfort of my own kitchen that could rival those produced by the craft breweries that I love. This past holiday season I received a homebrew kit from my awesome and truly understanding wife and I couldn't wait to put it use. Along with the kit, I received a red ale recipe and quickly went to work following the new year celebration. As this would be my first time brewing, I employed the help of two friends who had brewing experience to walk me through the intricacies and nomenclature of brewing. The afternoon of steeping grains, obtaining a rolling boil, cooling the wort, and transferring the liquid to the fermenter went very well with little in the way of obstacles. 
After waiting impatiently for fermentation to began, the air gauge began to bubble with the presence of carbon dioxide signifying the beginning of fermentation. Fermentation lasted for 3-4 days and then it was time to bottle. The bottling phase proved to be the most difficult of the entire process because I am a complete newbie to homebrewing and I was trying to do something by myself that I had never done before. After many tries to create a bottling siphon and being unsuccessful, I went and read Charlie Papazian's book, The Joy of Homebrewing. Now, feeling more composed and relaxed, I returned to the kitchen and the siphoning process went more much smoothly and I filled sixteen bottles with a very light red-brownish liquid. 
Since this is a blog about beer and beer reviews, I thought it would be appropriate to put my own brew up to the criticism and judging process that I apply to American and International craft breweries.
As I poured my first homebrew, I was presently surprised with its appearance. It was a coppery brown with very noticeable carbonation. The body was hazier than I expected, almost reaching light-blocking opaqueness. The head was very light and frothy dissipating to a half-finger head. 
The smell brought forth the image of grapefruit or orange concentrate. After getting past this dominating aroma, I was able to pick out two additional aromas: light malts and bready yeastiness. 
The taste profile had two very distinct phases. The first phase was an explosion of citrusy oranges, while the second phase contained a very sweet malt finish. I think this sweet finish was due to the ample amount of priming sugar I used during bottling. 
The mouthfeel was light, but I enjoyed the amount of carbonation. 
Overall, I am pleased with certain aspects of my first homebrew. First, I made through the process without having the pot overflow and having a major clean up session. Second, the color of the beer was its best feature and matched BJCP guidelines pretty well. Third, I really enjoy carbonated beers, so the level of carbonation in my homebrew was pleasant. With all those positives, there were some definite flaws in my red ale. The two major flaws were aroma and taste. The aroma resembled sweetened orange juice and the taste lacked a true presence of malt or hops. If I brew a red ale again, I am going to try and make something that rivals: Red Rocket Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Company or Hop Head Red from Green Flash Brewing Company.   

Rating based on BeerAdvocate's rating system:

Appearance: 3.5/5
Smell: 3/5
Taste: 2/5
Mouthfeel: 3.5/5
Drinkability: 3/5


1 comment:

  1. Hell yeah, Charles! I can't wait to try some with you!