So March came around quickly, and that leads us to tasting and scoring session number 5. This month we were looking at red, brown and Scottish ales, with a full scoresheet for an American brown ale. The technical session was on yeast and fermentation, and I have to say the bar was raised on this one. We had an excellent discussion and handout on the different strains of yeast, how they compare to each other and the characteristics of each. It would not have been out of place in any microbiologists study notes.
On to the blind taste test, we had a variety of styles across the British Isles and the US.
- British Brown Ale (13B) – Wychwood Hobgoblin
- Scottish Export Ale (14C) – Belhaven Scottish Ale
- Wee Heavy (17C) – Orkney Skullsplitter
- Irish Red Ale (15A) – Kilkenny Irish Beer
- California Common (19B) – Anchor Steam
- American Brown Ale (19C) – Torrside Bugbear
Belhaven Scottish Ale
Toffee, caramel aroma with a definite alcohol presence. Hints of fig. Copper colour, light-medium body. Dark fruit flavours – raisin and fig. Medium carbonation. Short finish with the bitterness coming through. Sherry-like alcohol warmth.
Kilkenny Irish Beer
Copper colour. Low aroma of light toast. Quite dry. Has an almond nutty flavour. Almost no hop hop character. Low-medium body. Light stone fruit esters. Short malt finish, though fairly evenly balanced.
Gold colour. Dark fruit aroma. Medium hop bitterness with a floral hop flavour and some raisins. Finish is short and bitter. Overall toffee sweetness and slightly spicy.
Light brown colour with an off white head. Has a pear-drop aroma, fusel alcohols. Medium body and bitterness. Light toffee flavour but not sweet. Short malty finish.
Alcohol very evident. Strong toffee aroma and flavour, has a creaminess. High alcohol flavour and low carbonation.
Chocolate malt aroma with some floral hops. Alcohol is evident. Dark brown colour and fairly hazy with a low, off-white head. The chocolate malt comes through in the flavour with a dry roasty finish, which adds to the level of bitterness. Medium body and medium-high carbonation, with a slight astringency. Dry finish.
To me this came across more like an American porter than a brown ale. It was too dry and too high with roasted malts flavours. A brown should be more towards caramel/toffee without the chocolate-to-coffee roasted malt flavours. I scored it 28/50 overall.
Next week it’s stouts and porters, my favourite styles.