Sara and I cracked into the final 4 remaining IPAs (from April). Three words: At Their Peak. I believe, over the entire course of my share of those bottles, I continually uttered the phrase, "Damn! I brewed THIS." Brewing note to self: 4-5 months is apparently the moment d'or for IPA. It's well known in cellaring circles that hops fade with cellaring, but apparently there's something of a bell curve at work, because the profile was hops all the way for these babies. I have a renewed energy for homebrewing -- and letting my brews sit for a few months -- after tasting those luscious treats. Wow.
II. The Waiting Game.
The Howells English Mild Ale is in the bottle and waiting to mature. I broke a couple out tonight to sample: very basic, very pleasant (read: almost boring in their straightforwardness). They need to sit maybe a week or so more to get really good, but my preview-tasting at least tells me that they're not duds. When I went to bottle them, I noticed a thin layer of hop/yeast trub on the surface of the brew, which is not really common -- it concerned me just a little bit (mold?? could mold have gotten in there??? Did it not ferment at all?) but after pouring into a glass and sampling, my fears were laid to rest.
With this one weighing it at just over 3% ABV, I figured that the obligatory put-6-aside-in-the cellar habit might be suspended for this brew. After the glorious IPA discovery, though, I think I owe it to myself to keep some aside until midwinter. I'm pretty sure they'll mature nicely.
III. Things to Come.
I've brewed my first Irish Stout (I'm very proud -- in my nerdy sort of way -- at the label I've devised for this one. Coming soon to a blog near you.) and racked it into the secondary fermenter. It's due to go into bottles this weekend and get broken out maybe on 1 October, as a reward to myself for surviving the dentist that day.
For this one, I've returned once again to my friends at Asheville Brewers' Supply for the ingredients and recipe:
6 lbs Northwestern Dark Malt Extract syrup
1 lb Briess Dark DME
1 lb crushed grain (.75 English black patent malt, .25 American roast barley)
1 oz Challenger hops (added @ 10 minutes)
1 oz Irish Moss (added @ 55 min.)
1 oz East Kent Goldings hops (added @ 60 min.)
Total boil = 70 minutes.
White Labs Irish Ale Yeast pitched @ 85 F.
OG = 1046, so we're looking at something in the 5.x% range, depending on the final gravity. So, it'll be stronger than Guinness, and one of the strongest ones I've brewed thus far...