Blending into Autumn

 

Since the last post the seasons have shifted into autum, the valleys have been cloaked in mists and now the first frost has come.  The blackbirds chime together a tinking call like an engine cooling down after hard effort.  The leaves have turned through a spectrum of colour and now mostly fallen, as have the apples, starting with our early tree and finally the cooker.  I’ve retained some for cider if time permits.  The woodland trails are a wonderland to run through; the hollow-ways carpeted in leaves, providing a secret solitude.  Beachy Head Marathon was an exhilarating highlight of the last month.  The view from the top of Windover Hill was stunning, with clear cold blue skies and the perfect undulations of the Downs unfolding to the sea.

 

 

The ale has been biding its time, slowly changing it’s character. A pellicle formed on Blend 1. I think this was because I ran out of carboy bungs so for a few days it was sealed with cling film allowing some oxidation. Some fermentation recommenced as different gravities combined with the different strains of yeast.

 

In the last month I have opened bottles of Gorse, Primrose, Wild Apple, Blackthorn and Dandelion, which were bottled on the 9 September. My tasting notes are below.

 

Date Originating Flower Tasting Notes
13 Oct 17 Gorse Low – moderate carbonation. Pale gold. Aroma of heady funk. Floral, marzipan, coconut, pea flower – gorse. Not distinctly sour.
21 Oct 17 Primrose Moderate carbonation. Pale gold. Floral and something almondy like meadowsweet – an astringent raw nut.
28 Oct Wild Apple Moderate carbonation. Gold. Fruity, clean.
4 Nov 17 Blackthorn Moderate carbonation. Pale gold. Marzipan, softened by the carbonation
6 Nov 17 Dandelion Yellow gold. Indistinct but floral aroma. Bitterness.  Spiciness. Slight astringent aftertaste. A bit acidic – slightly mouth-watering pH 4.3 however.

On the 4 November, after two months in the carboy I bottled half of Blend 1 into 32 375ml bottles. At this stage it had a gravity of 1.003 and a pH of 4.25. There were aromas of marzipan as well as some higher alcohol /estery notes. The flavours were of pale fruit like apple or grape. The other half of the blend was split into two demijohns: one with 8g of medium toast American oak chips and one to eventually blend with Blend 2 and 3 once they are ready.

The same day I sampled and blended the next four demijohns – Garden Apple 2, Broom, Hawthorn and Rowan. They were sampled first at room temperature and then chilled.

D6A1A217-66BA-4471-A9CD-39CD3B816FC6

 

Originating Flower Gravity pH Tasting Notes
Garden Apple 2 1.003 4.0 Clear. Golden. Hoppy, floral aroma. Dryer than the other samples.
Hawthorn 1.004 4.3 Clear.  Rose gold colour.  Not distinctly aromatic. Stone fruit. Creamy flavour.

 

Chilled – Deep fruity.

Rowan 1.004 4.3 Clear.  Straw gold. Subtle roselike aroma, stone fruit. Spicy

Chilled – Astringent

Broom 1.007 4.0 Clear.  Straw gold. Honey aroma, pea-flower. Tangy compared to the other samples.

Chilled – Some medicinal, petrol aromas

4 x 375ml bottles of Garden Apple II, 4 of Hawthorn, 3 of Rowan and 2 x 330ml bottles of broom were taken from the demijohns. I bottled straights from the demijohns with granulated sugar in the bottles. While I normally decant what I’m bottling into a bucket with sugar syrup, it seemed logical with such small quantities to add dry sugar to each bottle. I also filled the bottles first so as not to disturb the trub at the bottom of the demijohns. I took a different number of bottles from each demijohn because I saw, half way through, that I was not going to fill the carboy if I filled 4 bottles of each.  This left 2.5l of Garden Apple II, 2.5l of Hawthorn, 2.875l of Rowan and 3.34l of Broom to fill the 11.4l carboy.  I was not aiming for a specific ratio for blending because each ale had a similar acidity and structure.  The dregs from each demijohn were combined for the next brew. As I wasn’t able to brew the same weekend I have prepared a 500ml lightly hopped starter.

I’ve also retained the dregs from Blend 1 and a third of the dregs from the four demijohns (Blend 2) and fed them with 250ml of lightly hopped malt extract for the BrewCon London Megablend. Also, as part of brewCon London’s Homebrew Week , I’m taking a bottle of Gorse and a bottle of Dandelion along to Bring the Funk at Redchurch Brewery. I love their Urban Farmhouse range so it will be interesting to hear what people think of my brews.

Over the year I have recorded notes in this blog but it’s difficult to quickly reference and see how one observation has flown into the next. I have created a flowchart to chart my sensory tasting notes and brewing and blending process. I hope this creates a visually clear reference. A pdf is here and I will keep it up to date.

Sensory testing flow diagram_V4

 

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