Tag Archives: bitter

Case Swap #14: NTC ESB

This post is part of a series of twenty-three discussing beers brewed by members of the Merri Mashers brewing club for their 2015 case swap celebration.

This beer is labelled as “an ESB variation with an experimental upped hopping schedule”.  It has an OG of 1040, 39IBU, with Windsor yeast and was brewed by Merri Masher Baz Fletcher.

This odd ESB settled in the glass with a bright orange colour under a patchy head that quickly disappeared. Little aroma announced itself, perhaps faint notes of grassy hops, a little non-descript malt – but thoroughly low levels. A medium body carried great peppery notes that controlled the beer’s flavour with fresh spicy hops – that are almost herbal – in second command. The malt contributions are muted and disappeared in the dry, medium-bitter finish.

Good work Baz, this is an interesting take on an ESB.

Colonial Bitter

I’ve called my most recent brew a Colonial Bitter as it approaches a traditional English-style pale ale style but uses Australian hops (only for bittering – it was not intended to be a “New World” take on the style like Hargreaves Hill’s famous ESB, for example). There were no hiccups with the brewing and I split the batch to try two different Mangrove Jack’s yeasts – they both finished at 1010FG. This batch was done with their British Ale yeast.

Colonial Bitter
1040 OG, 1010 FG. 4.2% bottle ABV. M07. Melbourne water, dechlorinated.

Fermented at 18°C from:

36% :: American Ale Malt
36% :: Pilsner Malt
16% :: Raw Cane Sugar
08% :: CaraAroma
04% :: Gladiator Malt

60m single infusion mash at 65°C.
60m boil with 31 IBU of Victoria’s Secret hops added at 60m.

This beer presented with a very small head and a delightfully robust dark chestnut red colouring. Carbonation appeared low, with small bubbles freckling the sides of the dimpled beer mug. It smelt of delicious caramel, toffee and mild pear. On drinking, a thin body delivers a harsh bitterness that is out of balance for the style. I fear I used too much of the Victoria’s Secret, a hop known for its acerbic bitter character. Obviously this was a mistake; there was no reason to use this hop except laziness. And I get to call it the Colonial Bitter.

I have had beers with this kind of bitterness come up trumps with time, so a couple of months down the track it will probably be a nicer beer. The flavour profile is solid: a smooth, toffee malt character, not offensive like Gladfield toffee malt can be. It is rather restrained and moderate. The more I drink it, the more I can’t wait for the bitterness levels to reduce. I hope it keeps that fantastic aroma courtesy of the solid CaraAroma quantity in the grist. Yum.

Heavy Seas Double Cannon

Another maritime-themed beer comes ‘atcha today from Baltimore, MD. Heavy Seas (previously known as Clipper City, I think this is still the parent company) proclaim typical craft beer individuality in their mission statement: “Heavy Seas is about adventure, challenge, risk taking, rebellion, and an active lifestyle … We love people who have the courage and character to challenge what life has to offer, aware of the risks, and who embrace it anyway. We make beers to celebrate both the people and their adventures. It’s an attitude, a lifestyle and who we are.”

The brewery has a range of six core beers with seasonals on top. Their Double Cannon is a double IPA at a hefty 9.5% ABV and is derived from the brewery’s regular Loose Cannon IPA.

I drank this beer out of a delightful polystyrene cup provided by an equally delightful suburban hotel (many an insightful conversation with Latino grandmothers were had, though I do not recommend the breakfast). Polystyrene somewhat obviates my usual notes on appearance. I can say that this beer had head, that it was white and that it retained. End appearance notes.

A curvacious, clean hoppy aroma surrounds this beer: soapy rose, orange rind citrus and candle wax. Bitter, plump flavours of basic malt and apricot are sleek and delicious. The mouthfeel is medium to thick, alcoholic, mildly burning the tongue as it goes down – but in a welcome way. This is an outrageously delicious beer and very bitter. The high ABV is initially off-putting but only adds to the beer’s special character, convincing you to have one or two rather than three or four. I would buy this at home if I could.

This bottled beer was given to me by a friend and I drank it at the Super 8 Waldorf, Maryland.

Dainton Bastard Brother

The Dainton brewery is one of the funnest outfits in my home state of Victoria. Their attitude is positive but harbours a dark, edgy theme right across their beers. They are also one of the only Australian microbreweries to stress the “family” nature of their operation; reminding me of the millions of “family” restaurants dotted across the United States. It’s taken me a while to write a tasting post for these guys, but I picked a winner: their latest beer is the Bastard Brother Belgian Rye IPA. It’s big and it’s good!

However, it’s neither particularly “Belgian” or “rye”. Instead it feels more like a typical U.S.-style double IPA. I don’t know if this is simply another case of naming the beer after the wrong ingredients i.e. it is meant to taste this way, or if they were were simply subdued by the brutal malt and hop bill. Regardless the beer presents the grandest, tightest head I have seen in a while. It neither thinned nor changed in the twenty minutes it took for me to drink my pint: it just sat, dense, foreboding.

The beer is a piercing orange with a whopping citrus hop aroma, bringing pineapple, grapefruit, cane sugar and wet carpet in equal measures. It’s a phenomenal aroma pushing into barley-wine territory: rich, rich, rich. It wafted across the table, it swirled through the air, it thickened the very atmosphere of the place. Gooood.

A haze is definitely present. The beer is not clear at all – my glass was ice cold, so it could be chill haze, but is more likely from wheat in the grist given the Belgian designation. A super bitter punch of hops still manages to sit under a sickly cordial sweetness – there are a lot of residual sugars, nothing dry about it. Hints of orange peel but so so so small you wouldn’t notice if not looking.

This is a punishing IPA perfect for winter’s eve. I got nothing interesting from the supposedly Belgian yeast, and it could be a touch drier, but it’s a damn fine drop and comparatively cheap to boot.

I drank a pint of this draught beer at Carwyn Cellars, Thornbury.