Tag Archives: oak

Case Swap: Cherry Ripe Porter

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.

The description of this beer states it is a brown porter recipe base that was split, racked onto 1kg sour cherries, 1l sour cherry juice, 60g toasted coconut, 100g toasted cacao nibs, 2 tsp raw cacao powder, one vanilla bean then blended back with the rest of the beer that was racked into an oak barrel in the meantime. A bit confusing. OG of 1.052, FG of 1.014, not taking into account fruit sugars.

This porter is an auburn-hued dark brown and is well carbonated, but produced no head. I may have used an oily glass unintentionally. There is definitely a huge cherry bomb in the aroma, with a sort of blue-cheese thing going on in the background. Only the faintest hint of malt is there.

The mouthfeel is quite thin but delivers big fruit flavours. Sumptuous cherry juice merges with a nice dry chocolate porter base. This is much better than a cherry ripe; in fact it puts confectionery to shame. The only thing that could improve this beer is a big, rocking head. I don’t know if its absence can be attributed to the cherry juice or the glass or something else.

Case Swap: New Brown

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 is a sour beer by one of the club’s aficionados. The label states that it is a 5.6% ABV fresh tart brown ale with French oak and Pinot noir, brewed from 2-row, Caramunich, Special B, Wheat, Saaz and fermented with Lactobacillus Plantarum and WLP575. Then additions of medium toast French oak and 2014 Dead Mouse Pinot Noir. Sounds interesting!

The beer slid into the glass hesitantly with delicate carbonation and a muted red EBC. No head was present at all, nor any hops on the nose. The aroma was vinegar and lumber, with a bit of cherry or something behind the wood. Slightly citrusy flavours and generic malt tried to make themselves known on drinking, but to my palate these notes were hammered into submission by an aggressive sourness that was definitely to the detriment of the beer.

I am not a huge sour beer drinker but I know the ones I’ve loved – for instance all Russian River and Berlinner Weisses. I struggled with this particular beer – I think it’s the vinegar, which reminds me too much of pediococcus infections I’ve had in the past when brewing.

Jack’s Abby Vanilla Barrel-Aged Framinghammer

Jack’s Abby is a well-known brewery in Massachusetts that is already in the process of expanding to a new site, although they only got started four years ago. The brewery markets itself as a family business founded by three brothers who all remain heavily involved. Jack’s Abby are one of the few American craft breweries that put lagers front and centre of their range and marketing. In fact, some of their advertising claims they only brew lagers – which is obviously false, given the success of their porter.

This is a big chunky beer at 10% ABV. It’s a derivative of their seasonal Framinghammer Baltic Porter, which Jack’s Abby supplies in “standard” fresh form as well as aged in barrels with vanilla (this review), others with cocoa and also coffee. Four beers from one super high-gravity wort! Why not?

This porter has a strong beige frothy head with thick lacing. I had to drink it in hotel polystyrene, so no further appearance notes unfortunately. A typical malt aroma, sweet and to style, merges with distinct bourbon whiskey on the nose. There’s no real vanilla aroma to mention. The vanilla instead takes over in the mouth, with a strong punch covering roast malts, timber, bourbon smokiness and warm alcohol, with a little salt behind it all. Bitterness is restrained and in sync in this big, risky beer.

With a smooth mouthfeel and rounded texture it’s a winner of an ale, but one to share or spread out over a long meal.

This bottled beer was a gift and I drank it at a motel in Maryland.