I am blogging live from Iron Brewer Batch 3 Round 2!!!!! Though, I am not really sure if I can call it blogging live being I will not be posting this until after the tasting is over… hmmm…, well either way. It is time to get this underway!
Just as a recap, this is what Iron Brewer is straight from Peter Kennedy himself.
After a hugely successful Simply Beer Brew-off , Batch #1 & #2 of Iron Brewer™, we are going to charge head on into Batch#3 of Iron Brewer™! Same concept like the Iron Man Triathlon which features 3 unique events combined into 1 competition. The concept is simple, there will be 3 unique ingredients and you’ll need to combine them into a a one of a kind, unique, and most importantly delicious homebrew.
The ingredients for this round were C120, White Wheat Malt, and Faulkners Flight hops. You can check out all of the recipes here. These were simple ingredients but the use of them is what made it special. Creating something unique is a bit of a challenge when you are all under the same guidelines and restraints. Each brewer is different along with their experience, style, and taste in beer all together and that is what makes this competition unique. It is also really cool that you get direct, immediate feedback from the participants rather than just a score sheet in the mail. This is my first “competition” of sorts and it was interesting because I also had to judge myself.
The first beer of the night was a very interesting one. Glen by Phil Cutti. The first thing that caught my attention when I pulled it out of the box was the awesome label. It made me wonder why I couldn’t do something like this. So very simple and personal. Loved it. I felt the hops for this beer was very heavy on the nose. But what was great about that is that they smelled amazing!!! I guess they were not really that heavy, a bit of the malt still came through. Some of the key points to this beer that I liked was how its dryness… I guess maybe I should tell you the style. It was an Imperial Common. Check out the recipe, or use your imagination to determine what that means but he went ahead and fermented the lager yeast at ale temperatures. It was a bit fruity and bready. The ingredients came together well in this beer. I liked it very much. It is not anything that I would have brewed myself, though, I wish I had at least one or two more bottles of it just to have around.
The second beer of the night was White Falcon from Robert French. When I first looked at this beer… and first smelled it I was expecting a total hop bomb, wheat IPA… This beer was none of that… It had a really big nose. I mean, once you open the bottle the whole room fills up with hops. Insane. I have no other way to describe it, and me, not being one huge on IPAs unless they meet my “standard” was honestly looking down on this beer already. On my first sip, I was hooked. This is seriously one of the best beers I have ever had. It was not the wheat IPA I was expecting. It was a very tamed, while still having some bitterness and a lot of flavor, creamy textured, glass of awesome. I really don’t know how else to describe it. I looked over his recipe and it was really simple. I mean stupid simple. The majority of it was wheat malt, a little bit of base, the C120 and then the hops and yeast. Not saying you can’t make a good beer with so little, I’m just saying he knew exactly what to do with the little he used.
The third beer we had during the tasting was, well… Mine! Summer Starlifter, BY ME! I pretty much took this opportunity to do something I always wanted to do. Brew a Saison. My first instinct when getting the ingredient list was to brew a wheat ale but I thought that would have been too simple and too common. This recipe was born shortly after. I pretty much just took a few things I wanted to showcase and go went for it. Probably the least amount of time I took to write a recipe. I have this beer on tap at home but I thought I would fill a bottle for the tasting. I thought it was funny how clear the beer was in bottle. It was cloudy the whole process, even the ones I have aging on fruit right now but upon my pour, it was crystal clear. I was not expecting this… Oh well. The thing that stood out the most to me was the citrusy flavors. They were really hard over the top. When I was talking to my buddy Louie about it a few weeks ago I described it as,
A LOT OF LEMON! lol I wanted more spice and maybe more wheat.
The wheat was lost to the background pretty much and it was hard to pick out the crystal. Which is sad because that is my favorite crystal to play with. I use it in everything lol Not really, but I use it quite a bit. Just like Special B. I love that one too.
The Fourth Beer of the night was Cranberry Wheat from Rob Kriegel. This was another interesting one because I am not usually too keen on Fruit Beers… Then again, I have a record of all the fruit beers I have had, and liked, so I guess maybe I like them more than I think I do. Though, this one did not seem like your typical fruit beer. He only added some extract at the time of bottling to get a bit of that flavor into it. The cranberry flavor was actually pretty light. It was almost hard to pick out on the initial pour. It took the beer warming up a little bit for it to really come out. Though, I could really feel the dryness that it left behind. I thought this recipe looked really good when I was checking it out on the website. It really didn’t come together like I thought it was going to though. I guess that is part of the different brewers, different style thing… or maybe I am not that good at anticipating what something is going to taste like lol It was a really good beer though. Funky hops up front, a bit of citrus to follow and light bitterness before you get the cranberries and the malt backbone. Very nice.
The last beer of the night was from Pat Walsh. It didn’t come with a name so I don’t know what to call it. One of the things that was really hard for me and this beer is the use of the Nelson Sauvin hop, I believe it was. There are several commercial beers out that that use it that I did not like. Then again, there are a few that used it and I did… I am not sure it is this hop, but now that I have had it and know for a fact that this was it, I kind of believe that it was. I did not expect this beer to come out so dark though. I guess maybe I should have paid attention to the recipe to see that it had about 2 pounds of C120 in it. That is pretty insane if you ask me. Though, it did not seem to complicate this beer at all. The hops and alcohol nose is what stood out most to me at the start. It was hard for me to get past the Nelson though. It did not present as I thought it would have and I was able to drink it down. Still tasty, but it just lingered with me. I don’t know what else I could have done.
Anyway, at the end of the tasting it came down to the judges and all of the brewers to pick a winner. They asked us for our rank of the beers. Mine was White Falcon, Cranberry Wheat, and Glen for number 1, 2, & 3. It kind of sucked that 2 people fell out of this round, but what can you really do about that. Overall, great feedback was received by all about all and from the judges. It was a great help for me since I plan to start entering into competitions. The feedback that was given was not just, “Oh, your beer is good yada yada yada…” They actually hit on points that I feel are important to know. I honestly thought my beer may have been a little undercarbed but they all agreed that it was more so over than anything. I guess it is just a case of, The more you know… Anyway, the winner by majority vote was White Falcon by Robert French. A great beer. Seriously. I am glad to have had it.