Saturday, October 31, 2009

123. Bristol’s Smokebrush Porter

Our second beer from Bristol’s Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, CO—our last beer by them was Red Rocket Pale Ale. Smokebrush is a robust porter.

Smokebrush Porter pours a deep brown with red highlights and a creamy tan head. The nose has a sweet roasted character to it with chocolate and crystal malt aromas in the background. The front is dry and chocolaty with some dark sweet malt flavors that lead into a roasty middle and finishing with a return of the dryness and some light smoke flavors. Smokebrush has a light body that is initially creamy with the chocolate, but the creaminess dies towards the middle and end of the beer. Carbonation is present, but not obtrusive—it’s mainly neutral, like Switzerland. This tastes quite a bit like a Schwarzbier, which may be why I like it so much & why Elli doesn’t; it could use a bit more complex of a malt profile to create a wider range of flavors. Overall, I give it a big thumbs up, but Elli thinks it stinks. And yes, I know that rhymes.

From Bristol’s website: “Our city would be a bland and humorless place without the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts. Since 1992, their random acts of creativity have made us smile, made us think, reminded us of our better selves. Besides, any group that could bring us both a gallery of contemporary art and a giant, drivable toaster has our enthusiastic support. That’s why 100% of the profits from this beer will go to support Smokebrush's Creative Community Efforts, like the Uncle Wilber Fountain. So enjoy this mahogany-hued blend of richly roasted malts and subtle smoke character. We call it art for art's sake.”

ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 30
Malts: 2-Row, Crystal, Chocolate, Smoked Malt, and Peated Malt Munich
Hops: Mt. Hood & Columbus

Today’s BJCP class focused on off flavors and troubleshooting, and specifically on learning to identify the different types of faults that can emerge while brewing beer. Today’s class was led by Gordon Strong (yes, that Gordon Strong). His basic advice was to learn to see, smell, and taste faults in beers, and to learn the proper ways to describe these faults. He further advised learning about what part of the brewing process creates particular types of faults (i.e. is it related to initial production, like with the mashing or from the boil, related to fermentation, or due to infection), and a reciprocal knowledge of styles for where particular faults are appropriate and where they are not. We spent a good portion of the time discussing the tensions between perceptions and adherence to guidelines/judging beers. Our tasting list for the day included:

Rolling Rock: fault example: DMS: light sulfur-based smell; canned corn juice flavor; overcooked vegetable taste. DMS is a volatile, and can aerate off during the boil.
Budweiser: fault example: acetaldehyde: yeast derived flavor; found in the finish; Budweiser calls it part of their “snappy” finish.
Moosehead: fault example: skunky: also known as light struck; this is a chemical reaction caused by the reaction of bitter compounds in hops with sunlight, which transforms compound into the chemical that skunks spray; commonly found in clear and green glass beers.
Samuel Smith Pale Ale: fault example: diacetyl (vs. caramel): fermentation flaw caused by premature separation from yeast; is a by product of yeast metabolism; can be induced by pumping O2 into beer while fermenting; in nose, it is diacetyl, while it emerges as a caramel butter flavor in the body, which helps build toffee flavors.
Old Speckled Hen: fault example: skunk/stale/oxidized: some paper flavor; flavors get muted and dry.
Gueze Girardin 1882: fault example: sourness: lactic sourness; flavors include grapefruit zest and woody characteristics.
Schneider-Weisse fault example: cloudy/phenolic: clove in nose and taste; yeast suspended in beer.
Green Flash West Coast Ale: fault example: bitter/astringent: hop derived; volume of vegetal matter leads to astringent bitter flavor, while astringency or drying in mouthfeel created by residual bitterness that is harsh.
Harvest Ale ’99: fault example: sherry/alcohol/fruity: sherry flavors created by oxidation; good oxidation improves with age; melanoidins oxidize to make sherry and dark fruit flavors.

Much of this discussion was designed to prepare us to answer the main troubleshooting question on the BJCP test: T1. Describe and discuss the following beer characteristics. What causes them and how are they avoided and controlled? Are they ever appropriate and if so, in what beer styles? (three will be given)
a) cloudiness
b) buttery
c) low head retention
d) astringency
e) phenolic
f) light body
g) fruitiness
h) sourness
i) cooked corn
j) bitterness
k) cardboard
l) sherry-like
m) acetaldehyde
n) alcoholic

See? I told it wasn't just drinking beer and hanging out...


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