Clearing out the homebrew

I took stock of my cellar* the other day, and found a few old orphan bottles of homebrew. I haven’t been drinking much at home lately other than some shower beer lagers from work, so have been bringing them to friends’ places for testing.

Blood Orange Saison

I made this back in March 2016. I was quite proud of it when I made it – it had no discernible off-flavours, was quite effervescent, and the blood orange flavour was subtle but present. I was fully expecting it to be oxidized and awful after almost a year and a half, but was surprised to find it delicious. The orange had faded to just a slight orange blossom aroma with none in the flavour. The colour had deepened somewhat, and the beer had an amazing honey and jasmine flavour to it.

Lychee Gose

I had made this in September 2016 for the GTA Brews Brew Slam competition. The taste was exactly what I wanted when it was fresh. After almost a year, the lychee aroma had faded significantly. The salt was quite dominant at first taste, but quickly faded leaving a slight lychee candy-like aftertaste.

Wild Thing Blonde

I made this in February, using a Magnotta Blonde Ale kit with Escarpment Labs Wild Thing yeast that they had isolated from an apple orchard in the Niagara region. It started at 1.048 OG, and fermented down to 1.002. I was expecting it to be dry, but it still had a good mouthfeel. The yeast gave it a marked apple taste, like a semi-dry cider. Quite delicious!

Double Oatmeal Stout with Toasted Cocoa Nibs and Niagara Cherry Juice

I am the least happy with this one. There was a bit of oxidation in both bottles we tried, and one of them was a gusher. The cocoa nibs lent a really smooth chocolate aroma and flavour to the DOS kit from Magnotta, but the sour cherry finish seemed off to me. My friends who tried it quite liked it, so it could be just me. Still, I’m going to make it again and use the whole cherry not just the juice left over from making a pie.

*and by cellar, I mean hall closet where we keep the vacuum and old crap.

Day 184

We looked at decoration in Packaging class, ie labeling. there’s a lot of information has to be put on a small space, from product & manufacturer information to health, regulatory and/or religious info. All aspects of labelling were covered: paper & glue composition (must adhere, but still be able to be removed easily especially on reusable bottles), printing and dye-cutting (finally, an aspect of brewing I know something about!) and the machines used to apply them. I will admit to zoning out a bit during the machinery discussion, as I was very busy sketching out an idea for a label for my beer that I haven’t made yet.

Sensory was next, after a walk in the sunshine between classes. So many cool places to explore near school! I headed to Woodend Conservation Area and stomped around in what remained of the melting snow and tried to stay out of the puddles as I walked around the old house and looked out over the lake.



But I digress.

Today was several of my favourite styles, English Brown Ale, Porter and Stout. I discovered I like the sweeter Southern English brown better than the drier Northern one, and that Dragon Stout (Foreign Extra Stout) tastes just a fruity and delicious as I remembered. We did not get to the American or Russian Imperial categories, which goves me something to look forward to next week.

Day 84 – Tuesday, Nov. 24

On the craft side today, which means more bottling and labelling after the mash is prepared. I’m getting really good with the label machine.

The other group was making an oyster stout on the pilot system, and we had Chef Peter Blakeman come in with some lovely PEI oysters (I think he said they were Malpeques, but I could be wrong). He told me the best oysters to look for were “a D cup in a C cup bra”, meaning a nice, deeply rounded shell will have the plumpest oysters. We got to sample them raw, and then later after they had been poached in the sweet stout wort. So incredibly delicious.

Plus, it was finals for the chef school, so we got to go and scavenge the leftovers – empanadas, Jamaican patties and an incredible Moroccan chicken dish with cinnamon, almonds and eggs. Free lunch, FTW!

Oysters after being in the mash for an hour.

SOBDL’s First Bevy

bev·y, ˈbevē , noun
a large group of people or things of a particular kind.

Jen Shute, from Ltd Supply, and I were at The Hole in the Wall bar in the Junction one snowy night, talking about life, the universe and everything over a few beers, as one does when one is in a good bar with good beer and good company. She mentioned the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies during one of our conversational swings, and told me how her and four of her friends who work in the industry were starting up a tasting group with the first event being the end of January. They envisioned it as a bottle-share/tasting group, small and private, to be held in someone’s house.

I was excited. I know of a few other bottle shares, but my desire to go hasn’t quite overcome my social anxiety of being a female n00b in a room of men. I bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale after New Year’s.

Social media spread the word of the Inaugural Bevy, and the event was featured in Toronto blogs and papers. The number of attendees grew too big for a private home and an event space was found. Due to the liquor laws, it was sadly no longer possible for the event to be a bottle share, and several local breweries donated kegs, growlers, bottles and cans of small and big batch beer for the ladies to imbibe.

Kudos to the Ladies: Jen, Erica, Magenta, Renee and Jaime! You can tell a lot of planning and elbow grease went into making this a great time for the 90 women who bought tickets. There were tasting note card, pins, name tags with conversation starters, a candy buffet and a great music playlist in a rustic loft space above Merchants of Green Coffee.



It looked like everyone was having a blast. I wish I could say that I was one of them, but I just wasn’t feeling it. My own fault really – I’d slipped on the ice and wrenched my bum knee, and no amount of Voltarin or ibuprofen was enough to make a dent. I went anyway, and sat on one of the few chairs not covered by coats and watched the party swirl around me. I couldn’t help notice that I was the oldest of the revelers by a fair amount, a fact that normally wouldn’t bother me but on that night just combined with the aching knee to bum me out. I used my three tickets to get a big glass of the Great Lakes Brewery Harry Porter and the Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Bean (so delicious, I went to GLB the next day to get a bottle of my own to make proper notes on and enjoy), and then headed home to an ice pack and a cup of tea made for me by my beloved.

Prud’homme Beer Specialist, session 4

Draught was the lesson for today, and I think the main thing I learned from it is that I am never ordering draught again unless it’s from a place that takes their beer more seriously than the corner sports bar. Does that make me sound like a beer snob? I’m trying to avoid that. It really is no biggie as I am not inclined to to to my corner sports bar to drink anyway.

Also wrote a test on history, and got the test on ingredients, fermentation and ageing/packaging back that we wrote the week before. I am so focused on getting this grade 12 chemistry done that both tests caught me unprepared. So imagine my surprise to find I got 13/15 on the first one! Not sure how that happened…obviously more things are settling in my memory than I’d thought.

Sensory Evaluation:

Style - Brown AleNewcastle, 4.7%Black Oak Nut Brown, 5%
Appearancemahogany, brunette, quick headcocoa, nut, wood
Aromacereal, brown sugar, raisins, root beercocoa, hazelnut - Ferrero Rocher
Tastesweet, honey, cracker/toastpumpernickel, molasses
Finish thin, quickdry, quick
Style - PorterLondon Porter, 5.4%Black Oak Porter, 5%
Appearancemahogany, red tintmahogany, red tint
Aromacoffee, vanillacherry, chocolate
Tastetoast, wood, walnutcherry cola, molasses
Finish dry, creamylonger finish, creamy
Style - StoutLost City, 8-Ball 5.8%Mill Street Cobblestone Draught, 6.5%
Appearancemahogany, quick headmahogany
Aromacurrant, fruitcake, vanilla, datessmoke
Tastelicorice, fruitcake, warmingmild, not complex
Finish softthin, creamy
Style - Imperial StoutWellington Imperial Stout, 8%Dragon Foreign Extra Stout, 7.5%
Appearanceblack, dark black cherry pop
Aromabanana marshmallows, datescherry, red fruit, spiced rum
Tastesmoke, dates, molassescherry pie, almond extract
Finish smooth, bittercreamy, smooth