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Day of Reckoning: Trying my First Homebrewed Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/19/2012 at 07:52:42 PM

After a full seven weeks of waiting - fifteen days in primary, fifteen days in secondary, and three weeks in bottles - I couldn't wait any longer...  it was finally time to try my Yorkshire square brown ale.  I expected it to still be slightly green; as I understand, normal gravity beers typically take three weeks at seventy degrees to fully carb up.  The closet where my beer lives usually stays in the sixty-four to sixty-eight degree range, and I pulled my first bottle to the fridge two days before the full three weeks had elapsed.  That being said, this was my very first homebrewed beer, and I believe that I have been far more than patient. 

As a recap, this ale came from an Austin Homebrew Supply extract kit with specialty grains.  It uses a White Labs limited edition yeast (whatever that means).  I opted for the dry extract version... and after dealing with liquid extract (and the associated mess and hassle) on another recipe, I think that I'll go with dry whenever possible in the future.

I had a little trepidation as I took the bottle out of the fridge.  On brew day, my original gravity measurement had been very high - though I now know that it had to be very close to correct; my samples were simply a bit concentrated.  The beer had fermented in that same closet that I would use for bottle conditioning, which meant that my fermentation temperature certainly got into the high end for this yeast - which can produce off flavors.  The two samples I took during fermentation had possesed a noticeable alcohol warmth - probably some fusel alcohols from those high ferentation temps.  The second sample did have less of this, so hopefully, it would continue to improve.  Another worry was that the beer had seemed pretty watery in the samples.  Would this persist?

My bottle had what appeared to be a very thin layer of sediment in the bottom; hopefully, that meant that the yeast had fallen out of suspension, and the beer would be clear.  Many homebrewers refridgerate their beer for anywhere from several days up to a week before they drink it,  but I had wanted to give mine as much chance as posible to carb up.  Regardless, I can (and will) try more of the beer next week; it will be interesting to see if there are any differences.

I broke out an English pub glass (part of a beer glassware set given to me by my wife for Christmas) and my cool little Darth Vader bottle opener (a stocking stuffer from the same woman... is she awesome or what?).  The moment was at hand...

Any worries about a lack of carbonation were quickly removed with a satisfying hiss from the bottle as I cracked open the top.  The intiial pour (which left all of the sediment behind in the bottle) gave me a nice, tan head of almost two fingers worth of depth.  The ale itself was exceedingly dark; it had always looked dark in the carboy, but apparently, beer always does (due to the larger volume, lesss light gets through).  In the glass, it was so dark as to almost be black, but was extremely clear (at least, when held up to the light).  The beer gave a pleasant malty scent laced with a floral aroma.  So far, so good.

An aside about my tasting notes: please realize that I am not a hardcore beer snob with a heavily refined palate.  I am, however, learning to discern some of the complexities in beer, and am enjoying it more now than ever before.

Do also note that at first taste, the beer was still rather cold from my fridge.  As for that first taste... well, I had to grin.  Was it the best beer I've ever had?  Nope.  Was it good beer?  Absolutely.

What I had was a quality brown ale.  It had a very nice mouthfeel; not at all watery, but not as thick as to be really chewy.  The taste was strong and malty up front, with some really nice roasted notes to it, and a bit of a bitter finish.  Not perfect, but I felt like it stood up very well to brown ales such as Goose Island Nut Brown or Wychwood Hobgoblin.  While the head was far from massive, the retention was excellent; I took my time and savored this glass, and still had foam all the way to the last of the dregs. 

I did notice a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mister Hyde situation with this beer as it warmed; the bitterness dissipated, but sadly, I felt that the full flavor and body likewise melted away a bit as it sat in my glass.  It still wasn't bad, but I felt like the quality dropped a bit as the beer warmed.  There was a slight bit of an odd, sweet, "twang" of a flavor to the beer that you could smell at all times, and became a bit more pronounced at warmer temperatures.

I'll definitely enjoy another glass of this beer today, and next weekend, I'll compare my observations to what I perceived this time around.  From what I read, I expect the beer to only get better; hopefully, the minor flaws that I'm finding (and to be honest, I am intentionally being harsh on this beer) will mellow out. 

No matter what, I am very pleased with this first batch.  This has been a tremendously fun experience, and it is very gratifying to end up with quality beer for my efforts.

One final note - I have been asked multiple times about my labels (obtained from  Many people want to know how difficult they are to remove.  When I was done with my beer last night, I ran the bottle under the faucet and fully soaked the label.  I was able to easily peel it off, leaving almost no residue behind.  What residue was there easily came off with a bit of rubbing; I expect that a soak in plain water will be enough to do the trick for future bottles.

Tags for this post: taste, tasting, first, beer, homebrew, homebrewing, yorkshire, brown, ale

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Congratulations - sounds like a success! Extract beers will typically be darker than all grain versions - it's the taste that counts, though!!

posted by Martin on 2/20/2012 at 04:07:17 PM

Saw your link on Home Brew Talk. Nice looking brew.

posted by StanJohnson on 2/20/2012 at 06:53:14 PM

Congratualtions! Sounds like it came out great. It looks perfect in your pictures. Great color and head retention. Whats up next?

posted by Atomic Donkey Brewing on 3/09/2012 at 09:42:56 AM

It's a satisfying feeling when your first one turns out good. I've found with mine that the serving temp really changes the taste of the beer. I find at typical fridge temps a lot of the flavours are hidden. I prefer to let mine warm up a bit so that it is just slightly chilled and I can saste much more of the hops and malt flavours.

posted by aidan on 3/27/2012 at 03:36:14 AM