Beer notes

Page last updated: 12/4/21.

Beers from the Ardivachar Brewery:

Gun Ainm (so far…): oatmeal stout – brewed 08/08/20; bottled 26/08/20 (now finished)

Cap pops with a gentle hiss, reflecting low (and probably below) levels of carbonation. Full bottle pours with very little, and a quickly disappearing, head, reflecting carbonation level as well as oat content. Colour as black as a starless, moonless night. Aroma faintly of licorice, faintly of sage. At room temp, silky smooth effects of volume of oats used more evident, with better appreciation of malt content as well as strong chocolate and coffee notes coming from this; with the hops and the malt in good combination. Mistakes were made and lessons learned!

Raspberry Beret: raspberry oatmeal stout – brewed 04/09/20; bottled 23/09/20 (now finished)

Pours with a thin head which quickly disappears. Aroma a combination of malt and rasps but quite separated. Mouthfeel good as a result of the oats and initial taste is as a typical stout, quickly descending into a quite bitter finish, although hop notes not otherwise evident. Rasps come through quickly at the back end and are absolutely dominant in the (reasonably lengthy) aftertaste, but strong, tart and slightly artificial tasting. Not a particularly pleasant beer, but with quite clear learning points as regards fermentation and flavour addition. With these in mind, would brew again, but would also consider switching to wheat to make a wheat beer (as standard), plus use fewer (and fresh; not frozen) rasps.

Black Coffee in Bed: breakfast stout – brewed 19/1/21; bottled 8/2/21 (now drinking)

Even When I’m Blue: oatmeal stout brewed with a single hop (Mosaic) – brewed 5/3/21; bottled 25/3/21 (now drinking)

Sweet Little Rock’N’Roller: vanilla bourbon stout – brewed 87/21 (now fermenting)


Beers from all-grain kits:

Belgian Blonde (ABV 7.7%) – brewed 10/6/20; bottled 28/6/20 (now finished)

Beer presents well, with decent head and some evidence of lacing down the side of the glass, and dark gold in colour (not quite amber), with a fair bit of murk (see picture below – though AWB incorrect, giving false impression of colour). Phenolic aroma with clove present, the beer is indeed both fruity and spicy on the tongue, bitter orange and coriander suggested, albeit somewhat flat – good, but not high, levels of carbonation – and probably somewhat under-carbonated for the style. Beer has a lengthy finish, with plum notes coming to the fore. Adding the bottom of the bottle intensifies the yeast notes, as expected, as well as the plum tartness of the finish. Really good beer, all round.


Black IPA (ABV probably above 5.1%) – brewed 6/4/20; bottled 23/4/20 (now finished)

Woody, slightly minty aroma; poured with a decent head which left some lacing down the glass; and, when free of sediment and chewy hop debris arising from mistakes in the dry hopping, was a good bitter. Strong grapefruit flavours from the hops, particularly in the finish, and very dry – hop flavour absolutely dominant with very few notes from the malt other than in the simple brown-black colour. Pre-carbonation, beer had a sweet maltiness so perhaps slightly over-carbonated.

Brewdog Elvis Juice (grapefruit IPA) (ABV 4.6%) – brewed 29/5/20; bottled 13/6/20 (now finished)

Unfortunately, every single bottle was a ‘gusher’, likely to be the result of excessive carbonation levels on top of a lower than expected yield. Aside from that, once settled, beer had a citrusy aroma, but faint and more predominantly pine; on tasting, orange citrusy flavours were more apparent, but not overly so – the grapefruit addition (deliberately omitted when I constructed the beer) is clearly key – and was somewhat swamped by a surfeit of Simcoe: if I’d used grapefruit, its distinctive notes would have been stepped back a little. Not unpleasant, and a beer that was reasonably balanced between malt and hops, but not a great kit.

California Common (ABV 4.5%) – brewed 1/5/20; bottled 19/5/20 (now finished)

Amber colour, clear ale with strong hop-based, fresh grassy, aroma. Pours with good head; very little sediment. Proper lager-like level of carbonation accurately reproducing the style. Dry but not too bitter taste, balanced between hops and malt, with gentle citrusy tang at the back of the throat at the finish. Head holds down the glass (though no lacing). Good beer delivering fine refreshment. Sediment-heavy, which added different, heavier hop characteristics and a thicker taste as well as changing the colour – picture below is after adding full bottle).

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Hefeweizen (ABV 5.1%) – brewed 4/7/20; bottled 18/07/20 (now finished)

Beer presents well, pouring with a thick, and lasting, creamy head, with decent lacing down the glass. Colour of light honey shading lighter down the glass; darker once the full bottle is poured including sediment. Gentle aroma points to a taste predominantly of cloves but also of a sweetness. Silky smooth mouthfeel as a result of the wheat and with a taste profile exactly as planned on pitching the yeast – cloves at the initial approach but with banana at the back end. Could perhaps have done with a bit more carbonation to be a typical hefeweizen, but ‘fizz’ quite sharp on the tongue and fast rising bubbles evident in the glass when held to the light. A really good beer.

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Pale Ale (US style, and supposed to be ‘session’ though turned out at ABV 5.1%) – brewed 25/6/20; bottled 12/07/20 (now finished)

Beer presents very well with decent amber colour but quite a thin, and quickly disappearing, head. Good, but not over-powering, aroma of lemony citrus notes and clean (‘piney’) smell. Beer is somewhat over-carbonated for a classical pale ale – though in keeping with the current style – but has a dry, hoppy flavour and with a decent length finish, pine notes predominant, reflecting a good bitterness in the mature ale ale after conditioning. Not at all a session beer – too strong for that – but highly drinkable.