Homebrew Advent Calendar: Day 1

Everyone that has heard me speak of The Homebrew Advent Calendar has been asking all sorts of questions even before I knew all the answers. The easiest thing I have found to tell them is, "Well, it is kind of like a chocolate advent calendar... kind of like my 12 Days Of Beermas, but this time with 24 (actually 25) beers, and instead of them all being commercial(again, like Beermas), they are all Homebrews!

Now, how might this work? Do I really have to brew 24 different beers to be able to enjoy one a day until Christmas? The beauty of this calendar, set up by Bull City Homebrew, is that I only had to contribute 1 beer to the calendar... well, 24 beers but you know what I mean. Totally takes out a lot of the work. Now that we have finally reached December 1st, it is time to enjoy the beers.

One thing I failed to mention, just like a true advent calendar, you do not know what you are going to get until you open up the door/bottle. Keeps you on your feet and it is a big surprise. More fun than blind pickups at the store. The guys at Bull City gave us two options of how to access the beer information. Everyday there is a thread posted to the forum we are using for the organization of this calendar. The thread contains all the information about the beer we are to be drinking on said day. The part that is up to you, do you want to read the description first? Or do you want to drink the beer first? Which did I choose? Well, it is easier to writ these post while looking at the description and tasting the beer. So that is the route I went.

The first beer is a Belgian Special Ale... Not my beer and not really sure what exactly that is, but I attributed it to the Belgian Pale Ale category. ~Shrugs~ The beer started around 1.060, finished 1.010 6.7%abv, used Wyeast 1214 which is a Belgian Abbey yeast and it had a fairly simple base recipe with only bittering hop additions. Notes from the brewer: The yeast should shine through with a nice red color and decent body for a winter version of a beer I've tried before.

Lets Dive In!!!

Right as I opened up this bottle esters filled the room. It had a very big banana aroma. There was a slight phenolic presence but it was very light and hard to come by. You could also pull out a light beady character but not much at all. No hop aroma as well. I thought the aroma was pretty one dimensional but, again, BIG! A short lived, creamy, very small white head formed on top but it dissipated just as fast as it came and a hazy copper color is what presented itself in front of me.

The very first, and most prevalent taste throughout the beer was a yeasty character. I don't mean like yeast flavors, I mean a big yeasty taste. Past that you get a slight toast in the background, no hop flavor, a bit on the maltier side of the spectrum, light phenols, and a bunch of banana esters. Working with the toasted flavors it was kind of like banana bread. I enjoyed that because I enjoy banana bread and also Wells Banana Bread. I thought I caught some light citrus flavors toward the finish but nothing distinguishable as the hop bitterness began to show its way through.

A slick, oily mouthfeel, very low carbonation level, a medium body with a dry finish but it proceeded to seem a bit astringent. Slight warmth in the finish as well, but at a very low level.

Overall, I thought there were some pretty strong characteristics that detracted from the overall experience of this beer, but it was not a bad beer to start the calendar out on. I thought the flavors seemed pretty one dimensional. The banana and bready characters is what stuck out the most, other than the yeast characteristic that held overhead. The astringency in the finish was also something that detracted from the overall experience.

I suggested, as well as a few others, to the brewer that he pitch a higher concentration of yeast/make a starter when brewing this again and maybe take another look at the base of the recipe. I am not sure much about the recipe, i.e. fermentation temperature, mash temp, etc, etc, but these are also issues that can possibly be looked at for various reasons in the recipe.

Anyway, Day 1 is down! 23/24 more to go! I wonder what else is in store!


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