11 July 2008

A Witty Tasting

I will never again shortchange the "wait 3 weeks before trying your homebrew" rule. I never cease to be amazed how such amazing transformations can take place in the span of just a few days.

I broke out one of the Wittes yesterday evening with dinner, but didn't feel like reviewing. I'm glad I did wait, because even in the space of 18 hours, it has improved even more. The early-sample off-putting nose has vanished, and the resulting brew is well-nuanced and quite tasty.

Here's the breakdown:

Appearance: Very cloudy, with thin white lacing. It looks somewhat like liquid peach in the glass. The photos keep coming out with a redder hue than it actually is -- a nice shade of orange tan. 3.5

Aroma: A fruity bouquet! I promise that no fruit flavorings were added past the organic peel (3/4 oz, added in the last 10 minutes of the boil). Banana, pomegranate, lemon, orange, peach, apple, strawberry -- they all make a cameo. Also, notes of honey, with a tinge of sweet-and-sour. 4.0

Taste: Not as strong as the nose, but let it breathe for a couple of minutes and it opens up very nicely. Refreshing for sure. The coriander (I used 2 teaspoons, added with the orange peel) comes right on through. There's a citrus edge, some floral action, and a nice mild and gentle hop finish. This is one well-balanced package. 3.7

Palate: Just a tiny bit syrupy on the way down; past that it's mostly great and definitely thirst-quenching. 3.0

Overall: I'm damn proud of this one and impressed with myself. In retrospect, I probably could have boosted that coriander on up to a Tablespoon, and next time I'll get a bit more creative with the spices (cardamom? chamomile? definitely.) I'm imagining all sorts of food pairings, not the least of which being some sweet-and-sour bird action (duck, anyone?), seafood (lemon-butter lobster or crayfish), and even fruit dessert (warm apple pie or peach custard with some vanilla ice cream). 3.7

Overall Score (out of 5): 3.8

10 July 2008

Inspiring words from my favorite Roman....

I just stumbled across this quote from Thomas Merton (1915-1968):

"I drink beer whenever I can lay my hands on any. I love beer, and by that very fact, the world."

It has that certain Mertonian straightforwardness about it that makes me very reluctant to doubt its authenticity. I'm sure it's straight from the source.
What a true sage.
Contemplating the Real Presence, or a Cold One?

Homebrewing: At Wit's End

I think there is something inherent in being a classically-trained musician that lends itself to a penchant for puns. I have known quite a number of conductors, theorists, composers, and church musicians over the years who all had something of a soft spot (if not an obsession) with the games of wordplay. And those of you who know me even a little realize that I am not immune to this disease (or is it a gift...?). In fact, one reason for my choice of Brewery nomenclature was the vast array of punning potential. (Just wait till I get my lagering fridge -- you know that Johann Sebastian Bock is on the way!!)

When one is handed the gift of a beer style most often called Wit, it seems indeed that the paronomasial gods are smiling. I finally decided on subtlety for this one -- Wit (also Witte), after all, is simply Flemish for "White." Hence, the little-known Robert White, of Lamentations of Jeremiah (should-be-) fame. Once I discovered, however, a 17th-century Flemish painter named Edouard Witte (a near-contemporary of White, and best-known for his perspective canvases of brightly-lit church interiors), I knew what was going on my label.

The beer itself? Well, I once again made the mistake of sampling the brew too early, before giving it ample time to set itself up in the bottle (the result: a hugely powerful and overwhelming nose of musty cellar, and something soapy. The same thing happened with my IPA, and the only thing it took to remove it was time). My plan is to do a genuine sample-tasting this evening. Hopefully the neonascent aromas will have dissipated themselves by this point (nearly 3 weeks since bottling).

Next up: a mostly-organic Nut Brown Ale.