After a few years of brewing infrequently, I began 2016 with a bold goal, to brew a batch of beer every month of the year. Remarkably, and somewhat unexpectedly, I managed to meet my goal. In the process, I learned quite a bit about how to brew faster and better, or at least be more consistent about hitting the original gravity a recipe calls for.
I also dabbled in growing hops for the first time, planting Sterling, Cascade and Centennial rhizomes. Sadly, only the Centennial hops took hold. Likely I put the others in bad soil, bad light, or, in one case, planted it too late in the season. The Centennial vines grew like mad. I wasn't expecting many cones this first year, so I was happy to see how many healthy and fragrant ones popped up.
Then I screwed up and forgot to harvest the hops. By the time it occurred to me, in mid-September, the hops were dry and browning, past their prime. Next year, I'll try to grab them up earlier.
Finally, on Dec. 31, I installed a fourth tap in my kegerator, a forward sealing faucet that won't get stuck shut.
But back to the matter at hand. What became of all that brewing in 2016? Here's a brief overview of each batch I made and how it turned out. In retrospect, the tasting notes, which I jot down on my phone, don't make a whole lot of sense much of the time, but I'll share them nonetheless.
|Enjoying a pint of my chocolate milk stout while brewing a Kölsch. From Carboy|
Tasting notes: Smell the chocolate. Deep burnt malt taste with notes of chocolate and coffee. Sweet creamy. Rich. A little bitter at the end. Quite good for late winter/ chilly springtime
Tasting notes: Beautiful reddish amber brown. Nice, almost sweet with a lingering malty after taste. Super drinkable. Great complement to soda bread and corned beef. Very popular at our St. Pat's dinner.
Tasting notes: Dry, grapefruit tang. Cloudy golden hue. Spritzer, effervescent. So sparkling.
Tasting notes: Cloudy and strawlike hue. Smells a bit sour of tannins. Bitter lager taste with a tad of astringent. Hops on the aftertaste. Almost a grapefruit sour to it. Way too hoppy for my taste. A bit of a letdown
A month or so later: Pilsner mellowed well. Still bitter and cloudier than I wanted, but the taste has improved with time. Not too bad, especially on a hot day.
Tasting notes: Light, golden amber hue. Wheat and sweet with a taste of raspberry that's not overpowering or cloying. Smell the raspberry wafting off it. Pleasantly surprised with this one.
Tasting notes: Brown caramel. Sweet. Solid märzen. Very drinkable. Went in one day at our Oktoberfest party.
Tasting notes: Light. Cloudy golden. A little pine-y and bread-y. Good for a hot day. Sweet.
Tasting notes: Dark mahogany, golden brown. Delicious and bitter. Hoppy. Strong alt, but not high abv. Malty, almost chewy.
Tasting notes: Higher octane. Deep brown. Rich, malty. Closer to a tripel than a saison. Slight sweetness in the backend. Almost boozy. Good for cold winter nights.
Tasting notes: A bit dull and flat. Bitter. In some ways perhaps a good English bitter but I may be serving it too cold, honestly. Not bad but a bit underwhelming.
Tasting notes: Orange-y brown. Light. Sweet. Clean and citrusy. Lovely for a very light Belgian Pale.
Tasting notes: Review TK in 2017
My favorites of 2016, in no particular order, were the Kolsch, the Raspberry Wheat, the Oktoberfest, the Chocolate Milk Stout and the Saison de Noel.
For the new year, my goal is to continue to brew, albeit at a less breakneck pace. It's great to have fresh, homemade beer on tap year-round. If I can make seven to nine batches in 2017, I'll be more than happy.
Rest assured, I'll let you know how it goes. Until then, happy New Year and sláinte.
By Tom on 12/31/2016